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  • 1. Fabrycka Emalia Oskara Schindlera

    This branch of the Kraków's Historical Museum houses an exhibition telling the story of the city under Nazi occupation, from 1939 to 1945. The story itself is well told and interactive, and visiting this museum is like walking through a meticulously crafted movie set. Although theatrical in form, it feels very true, with plenty of details about real people and their everyday lives. It is the location of the museum that may have a more personal resonance for some people: it's located in the former administrative building of the famous Oskar Schidler's Enamel Factory. In addition to the abundant factual information, around the museum you will find spots that inspire reflection, such as an art installation in Schindler's former office, or another called "The Room of Choices." Make sure to watch the documentary (with English subtitles) in the movie room, in which survivors remember Oskar Schindler back in the day. Allow plenty of time: two hours is the absolute minimum; more is better.

    Lipowa 4, Kraków, Malopolska, 30-702, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: zł 21; free Mon., Apr.–Oct., Mon. 10–4, Tues.–Sun. 9–8; Nov.–Mar., Mon. 10–2, Tues.–Sun. 9–6
  • 2. Nowa Huta

    Even for Kraków natives, a trip to Nowa Huta is something of an adventure. Though officially part of Kraków—and only a 20- to 30-minute tram ride from the city center—it is quite a different world. You'll feel the change not just in the sweeping scale of urban planning but also in the spirit of the place. Always the workers' town—and designed as such by rulers of the obsolete Communist Bloc—it remains mostly proletarian, although the area is also increasingly popular with students and bohemians. Although you could look at the neighborhood as a living museum of the former era, this is not to suggest that Nowa Huta doesn't have an interesting present and (hopefully) brighter future. Regrettably, its past is bleak indeed. In the 1950s, several villages outside Kraków were razed to build a huge steelworks and a steelworkers' town on the fertile farmland. The location of this "experiment" wasn't random: the "model socialist town," with its healthy social structure, was meant to counterbalance traditionally aristocratic and intellectual Kraków. In June 1949, the foundations were laid for the first residential block of Nowa Huta. Nearly a year later, construction of the steelworks began. The steel factory reached its apogee in 1970s, when it employed 38,000 and produced 6.7 million tons of steel annually, not to mention fantastic volumes of pollution, which nobody seemed to control. (Now it has been privatized—and modernized—with production down to 1 million tons per annum and the environmental impact greatly reduced.) Next to the factory, the workers' town grew where authorities hoped to build "a modern socialist society." Its ideological heritage notwithstanding, Nowa Huta is an interesting example of urban planning and architecture—so interesting that it was proclaimed a historical monument by the Polish government. The Central Square was modeled on that of Versailles, and the buildings that surround it are replete with echoes of the Renaissance and classicism. The street plan of the original residential areas of Nowa Huta is based on an American concept of "neighborhood units" first developed for New York City in the 1920s. Each block of Nowa Huta was equipped with all the necessary facilities to help the neighborhood function—shops, a school, a kindergarten, and so forth. One thing was missing, however: as a model socialist town, Nowa Huta was not supposed to have churches, so none were built. Yet faith and tradition were stronger than the enforced model, and people of Nowa Huta erected an "illegal" crucifix around which they gathered to pray. When authorities ordered its removal in 1960, the citizens came to defend their cross, and hundreds were injured in a battle with the government militia. The struggle continued off and on until the first church in Nowa Huta was consecrated in 1977. Shaped like Noah's Ark, it was a powerful symbol in the political context at the time. Paradoxically, the "model workers' town" played a key role in the downfall of communism, and became a stronghold of the Solidarity movement. Wide alleys of Nowa Huta were perfect for more than just May Day parades: in the 1980s, local residents people marched through them in antigovernment demonstrations. It is not easy to cover Nowa Huta sights by walking—it is better to use a bike, tram, or car. The Plac Centralny (Central Square) is a good place to start. Take a walk around the square, and check out the showcase Cepelia shop along the way. Then take a stroll through the residential neighborhoods on either side of the wide alleys leading from the square. Although you won't find the famous statue of Lenin that used to stand on Aleja Róż (Boulevard of Roses), some original establishments remain, including Stylowa restaurant and the most authentic milk bar in town. From plac Centralny, any tram going up aleja Solidarności will take you to Centrum Administracyjne (Central Administration Building), the impressive castlelike entrance and offices of the former Lenin Steelworks. Unfortunately, these days it is next to impossible to enter the steelworks as a visitor, but even a peek from outside can you some idea of the scale of this operation. A 10-minute drive or ride west of the steelworks is the Arka Pana (The Lord's Ark), an amazing modern church with facade made of round river stones. These were brought by the people of Nowa Huta to the building site when authorities cut the supplies in yet another effort to stop the church's construction. Needless to say, the government's efforts failed, and the Ark sailed above the sea of communism. To get to Nowa Huta, take tram numbers 4 or 15 from Kraków Główny, the city's main railway station. You need two to four hours to get a flavor of Nowa Huta, but bear in mind that there are considerable distances to cover if you really want to see the town. The company Crazy Guides offers tours to Nowa Huta in grand style—in an authentic Trabant car, a true wonder of the communist automotive industry.

    Nowa Huta, Malopolska, Poland
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  • 3. Rynek Główny

    Stare Miasto | Plaza/Square

    Europe's largest medieval marketplace is on a par in size and grandeur with St. Mark's Square in Venice. It even has the same plague of pigeons, although legend tells us the ones here are no ordinary birds: they are allegedly the spirits of the knights of Duke Henry IV Probus, who in the 13th century were cursed and turned into birds. This great square was not always so spacious. In an earlier period it contained—in addition to the present buildings—a Gothic town hall, a Renaissance granary, a large weighing house, a foundry, a pillory, and hundreds of traders' stalls. A few flower sellers under colorful umbrellas and some portable souvenir stalls are all that remain of this bustling commercial activity. Above all, Rynek is Kraków's largest outdoor café, from spring through autumn, with more than 20 cafés scattered around the perimeter of the square.A pageant of history has passed through this square. From 1320 on, Polish kings came here on the day after their coronation to meet the city's burghers and receive homage and tribute in the name of all the towns of Poland. Albert Hohenzollern, the grand master of the Teutonic Knights, came here in 1525 to pay homage to Sigismund the Old, King of Poland. And in 1794 Tadeusz Kościuszko took a solemn vow to overthrow czarist Russia here.The square is surrounded by many historic buildings. The Dom pod Jeleniami (House at the Sign of the Stag), at No. 36, was once an inn where both Goethe and Czar Nicholas I found shelter. At No. 45 is the Dom pod Orłem (House at the Sign of the Eagle), where Tadeusz Kościuszko lived as a young officer in 1777; a little farther down the square, at No. 6, is the Szara Kamienica (Gray House), which he made his staff headquarters in 1794. In the house at No. 9, the young Polish noblewoman Maryna Mniszchówna married the False Dymitri, the pretender to the Russian throne, in 1605. (These events are portrayed in Pushkin's play Boris Godunov and in Mussorgsky's operatic adaptation of it.) At No. 16 is the 14th-century house of the Wierzynek merchant family. In 1364, during a "summit" meeting attended by the Holy Roman Emperor, one of the Wierzyneks gave an elaborate feast for the visiting royal dignitaries; today the house is a restaurant.

    Kraków, Malopolska, Poland
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  • 4. Zamek Królewski na Wawelu


    The castle that now stands here dates from the early 16th century, when the Romanesque residence that stood on this site was destroyed by fire. King Sigismund the Old brought artists and craftsmen from Italy to create his castle, and despite baroque reconstruction after another fire in the late 16th century, several parts of the Renaissance castle remain, including the beautiful arcaded courtyard. After the transfer of the capital to Warsaw at the beginning of the 17th century, the castle was stripped of its fine furnishings, and later in the century it was devastated by the Swedish wars. In 1905, a voluntary Polish society purchased the castle from the Austrian authorities and began restoration. It narrowly escaped destruction in 1945, when the Nazis almost demolished it as a parting shot. Today you can visit the royal chambers, furnished in the style of the 16th and 17th centuries and hung with the 16th-century Arras-style tapestries from the Low Countries. Counted among the most valuable treasures of the Polish people, the tapestries were evacuated to Canada by Jan Polkowski (who had been appointed their guardian) during World War II in order to protect them against the invaders, and returned to Poland in 1961. The Royal Treasury on the ground floor contains a somewhat depleted collection of Polish crown jewels; the most fascinating item displayed here is the Szczerbiec, the jagged sword used from the early 14th century onward at the coronation of Polish kings. The Royal Armory houses a collection of Polish and Eastern arms and armor. The west wing holds an imposing collection of Turkish embroidered tents. For many Poles, the castle's importance extends beyond its history. Hindu esoteric thinkers claim it is one of the world's mystic energy centers, a chakhra. Some believers—and there have been many over the last few decades—think that by rubbing up against the castle wall in the courtyard they will absorb vital energy. To reach the castle, go to the end of Grodzka or Kanonicza streets, and then walk up Wawel Hill. The number of visitors to the royal chambers is limited, and entry tickets are timed; therefore, you should always try to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. Phone to make the reservation, and then collect your tickets from the Visitor Centre located across the outer coutyard, in the direction of Wisła river.

    Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

    Sight Details

    Royal Chambers zł 18; Royal Private Apartments zł 25; Treasury and Armory zł 18 Rate Includes: Closed Mon., Tues.–Sun. 10–5 (Nov.–Mar. until 4)
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  • 5. Bagelmama

    Kazimierz | Restaurant

    Bagelmama is a cozy little bagel shop—the only one in Kraków.

    ul. Dajwór 10, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland
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  • 6. Barbakan

    Stare Miasto

    Only one small section of Kraków's city wall still stands, centered on the 15th-century Barbakan, one of the largest strongholds of its kind in Europe. You can visit both the round, outer structure of the and a part of the defensive walls nearby on one ticket. Sometimes there are ticketed concerts or other events in the courtyard here.

    ul. Basztowa, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: zł 8, Closed Nov.–Mar., Apr.–Oct. daily 10:30–6
  • 7. Collegium Iuridicum

    Stare Miasto

    This magnificent Gothic building, built in the early 15th century to house the Jagiellonian University's law students, lies on one of Kraków's oldest streets. It's still part of the university, housing both the art history and law departments, but the charming courtyard is open to the general public. Hiding in the courtyard, you can find a striking sculpture by Igor Mitoraj, titled "Luci di Nara" ("The Lights of Nara"), which the artist donated to the university.

    ul. Grodzka 53, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland
  • 8. Collegium Maius

    Stare Miasto

    Jagiellonian University was another innovation of Kazimierz the Great. Established in 1364, it was the first university in Poland and one of the earliest ones in Europe. The Collegium Maius is the oldest surviving building of the university, though historians are undecided where the very first one stood. Jagiellonian's most famous student, Nicolaus Copernicus, studied here from 1491 to 1495. The first visual delight is the arcaded Gothic courtyard with a well and a musical clock. The clock plays the University anthem, while figures of royals and professors make a passage through two little doors below it every two hours from 9 to 5. Don't miss lovely college gardens, through the passage to the left. On the second floor, the museum and rooms are a must for all visitors to Kraków. They can only be visited on a guided tour (English-language tours are at 1 pm, but call in advance to confirm and make a reservation). On the tour you see the treasury, assembly hall, library, and common room. The museum includes the so-called Jagiellonian globe, the first globe to depict the American continents.

    ul. Jagiellońska 15, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Courtyard free; museum zł 12, Closed Sun., Mon. and Wed.–Sat. 10–2:20; Tues. 10–3:20
  • 9. Cricoteka—Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor

    Tadeusz Kantor (1915--1990) was one the most famous Polish artists of the 20th century, and one of the most versatile. He was a painter, theatrical director, actor, stage designer, poet, and performance artist. He once proclaimed that everything he did was art and described himself as a "total" artist. An experimentalist, he went against the official "socialist realist" prescription during Communist rule and couldn't exhibit his work in Poland for many years. Cricoteka showcases his work, but it strives to be as versatile as Kantor himself, opening its doors to a variety of events, including musical performances and educational programs. The building is an interesting example of contemporary Polish architecture (designed by Stanisław Deńko, Piotr Nawara, and Agnieszka Szultk). A former power plant was adapted and "wrapped" in a concrete and corroded metal frame. Attractively located on the bank of the Vistula, the building carries the reflection of the waves and catches the sunlight in the giant "mirror" of its ceiling.

    Nadwiślańska 2–4, Kraków, Malopolska, 30-527, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: zł 10; free Tues., Closed Mon., Tues.–Sun. 11–7
  • 10. Dom Jana Matejki

    Stare Miasto

    The 19th-century painter Jan Matejko was born and died in this house, which now serves as a museum for his work. Even if you don't warm to his painting, Matejko was a prodigious collector of everything from Renaissance art to medieval weaponry, and this 16th-century building is in wonderful condition.

    ul. Floriańska 41, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: zł 9, Closed Mon., Tues.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 10–4
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  • 11. Jama Michalika

    Stare Miasto

    How often do you have a chance to have a cup coffee or a glass of wine among museum-quality artworks? In the Art Nouveau café Jama Michalika (also seen as Jama Michalikowa), the walls are hung with works by its original customers—artists, who sometimes paid their bills in kind. The atmosphere is deliciously decadent: dark interior lit with stained-glass lamps, palatial chairs upholstered in green plush, and other fin-de-siècle attributes. Some evenings the café becomes a scene of a "Folk Show" for tourists, which some will find pleasant while others will prefer to avoid.

    ul. Floriańska 45, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Daily 9 am–10 pm, Fri. and Sat. 9 am–11 pm
  • 12. Katedra Wawelska

    Stare Miasto

    Wawel Hill, a 15-acre rocky limestone outcropping on the banks of the Vistula, dominates the old part of the city. The hill was a natural point for fortification on the flat Vistula Plain. During the 8th century it was topped with a tribal stronghold and since the 10th century has held a royal residence and served as the seat of the bishops of Kraków. Construction on the present Wawel Cathedral—the third cathedral in this very place—was begun in 1320, and the structure was consecrated in 1364. Little room for expansion on the hill has meant the preservation of the original austere structure, although a few Renaissance and baroque chapels have been crowded around it. The most notable of these is the Kaplica Zygmuntowska (Sigismund Chapel), built in the 1520s by the Florentine architect Bartolomeo Berrecci and widely considered to be the finest Renaissance chapel north of the Alps.From 1037, when Kraków became the capital of Poland, Polish kings were crowned and buried in the Wawel Cathedral. This tradition continued up to the time of the partitions, even after the capital had been moved to Warsaw. During the 19th century, only great national heroes were honored by a Wawel entombment: Tadeusz Kościuszko was buried here in 1817; Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki, both great romantic poets, were also brought back from exile to the Wawel after their deaths; and Marshal Józef Piłsudski, the hero of independent Poland between the two world wars, was interred in the cathedral crypt in 1935. Many feel that this tradition was disrespected when, in a controversial decision, Wawel received the body of Lech Kaczyński, Poland's President who died in a tragic plane crash in 2010.The cathedral also has a treasury, archives, library, and museum. Among the showpieces in the library, one of the earliest in Poland, is the 12th-century Emmeram Gospel from Regensburg. After touring at ground level, you can climb the wooden staircase of the Sigismund Tower, entering through the sacristy. The tower holds the famous Sigismund Bell, which was commissioned in 1520 by King Sigismund the Old and is still tolled on all solemn state and church occasions. Pick up an audio guide for zł 7.

    Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Cathedral free; bell tower/crypt and museum zł 12, Museum closed Mon., Apr.–Nov., Mon.–Sat. 9–5; Sun. 12:30–5; Oct.–Mar., Mon.–Sat. 9–4; Sun. 12:30–4
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  • 13. Kawiarnia Noworolski

    Stare Miasto

    One of the oldest cafés in town, this lovely historical spot, next to the entrance to the National Museum in the Cloth Hall, is a great place to sit and watch the goings-on in the square while enjoying a coffee. This is also a good vantage point from which to observe the hourly trumpet call from the tower of the Church of Our Lady. Be warned: the service can be really slow—don't go there if you're on a tight schedule. But if you're at your leisure, then what does it matter?

    Rynek Główny 1, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland
  • 14. Kopiec Kościuszki


    This mound on the outskirts of Kraków was built in tribute to the memory of Tadeusz Kościuszko in 1820, three years after his death. The earth came from battlefields on which he had fought; soil from the United States was added on July 4, 1926, the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The best place from which to get a panoramic view of the city, the mound presides above a 19th-century Austrian fort. With the same ticket, you can also visit an exhibition explaining the system and the history of the Kraków Fortress. The entrance to the exhibition is to the right, after you come back down from the top of the mound.

    al. Waszyngtona 1, Kraków, Malopolska, 30-204, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 12 zł, Daily 9 am–dusk
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  • 15. Kościół Bożego Ciała


    This 15th-century church was used by King Charles Gustavus of Sweden as his headquarters during the Siege of Kraków in 1655. Its austere gothic interior is filled with exuberant baroque furnishings, most notably the pulpit in the shape of a boat floating on the waves of the sea. The organ, with 83 voices, 5950 pipes, and 25 bells, is the largest in Kraków, and it consists of two parts: the historical side organ from 1664, and the main organ, fitted in 1963.

    Bożego Ciała 26, Kraków, Malopolska, 31-059, Poland
  • 16. Kościół Franciszkanów

    Stare Miasto

    The mid-13th-century church and monastery are among the earliest brick buildings in Kraków. The Art Nouveau stained-glass windows and wall decorations by Stanisław Wyspiański (dating from 1895 to 1905) are true masterpieces. The combination of austere Gothic and colorful Art Nouveau is surprising but harmonious. Wyspiański brought joy and emotions into the church, filling it with meadow flowers, of which its patron St. Francis of Assissi would certainly have approved. In the west window, above the choir, is a sight not to be missed: stained glass depicting God the Father creating the world.

    pl. Wszystkich Świętych 5, Kraków, Malopolska, 31-004, Poland
  • 17. Kościół Mariacki

    Stare Miasto

    Dominating the northeast corner of Rynek Główny is the twin-towered Church of Our Lady, which is also known as St. Mary's Church. The first church was built on this site before the town plan of 1257, which is why it stands slightly askew from the main square; the present church, completed in 1397, was built on the foundations of its predecessor. You'll note that the two towers, added in the early 15th century, are of different heights. Legend has it that they were built by two brothers, one of whom grew jealous of the other's work and slew him with a sword. You can still see the supposed murder weapon, hanging in the gate of the Sukiennice. From the higher tower, a strange bugle call—known as the "Hejnał Mariacki"—rings out to mark each hour, breaking off on an abrupt sobbing note to commemorate an unknown bugler struck in the throat by a Tartar arrow as he was playing his call to warn the city of imminent attack. The legend, which seems to have originated with Polish immigrants in the U.S., was captured in print by American author Eric Philbrook Kelly in his novel The Trumpeter of Krakow (1928). The church's main showpiece is the magnificent wooden altarpiece with more than 200 carved figures, the work of the 15th-century artist Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss). The panels depict medieval life in detail; the figure in the bottom right-hand corner of the Crucifixion panel is believed to represent Stwosz himself. A late 19th-century renovation added even more murals by artist Jan Matejko, who was aided by his disciples, Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański. From April to October it is possible to climb the taller of the towers (the entry costs 15 złoty), but please note this is an arduous climb, and for safety reasons, children under seven years of age are not admitted.

    Rynek Główny, tourist entrance from side of plac Mariacki, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Church free; altar zł 10; tower zł 15, Tower closed Mon. and Jan. and Feb., Altar Mon.–Sat. 11:30–6, Sun. 2–6. Tower Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Sat. 9:10–5:30, Sun. 1:10–5:30; Nov., Dec., and Mar., Thurs.–Sat. 9:10–5:30
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  • 18. Kościół na Skałce

    Stare Miasto

    Standing on the Vistula embankment to the south of Wawel Hill, this church is the center of the cult of Saint Stanisław. The bishop and martyr was beheaded and dismembered by order of the king in the church that stood on this spot in 1079—a tale of rivalry similar to that of Henry II and Thomas à Becket. The story goes that the saint's body was miraculously reassembled, as a symbol of the restoration of Poland's unity after its years of fragmentation. Beginning in the 19th century, the church also became the last resting place for well-known Polish writers and artists; among those buried here are the composer Karol Szymanowski, the painter and playwright Stanisław Wyspiański, and poet Czesław Miłosz.

    Skałeczna 15, Kraków, Malopolska, 31-065, Poland
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  • 19. Kościół świętego Andrzeja

    Stare Miasto

    The finest surviving example of Romanesque architecture in Kraków is this 11th-century fortified church. Local residents took refuge in St. Andrew during Tartar raids. The interior, remodeled during the 18th century, includes a fanciful pulpit resembling a boat.

    ul. Grodzka, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland
  • 20. Kościół świętego Piotra i Pawła

    Stare Miasto

    The first baroque church in Kraków was commissioned for the Jesuit order. It's one of the most faithful and successful examples of transplanting the model of the famous del Gesu Church (the "prototype" Jesuit church in Rome) to foreign soil. At the fence are the figures of the 12 apostles. The parish hosts numerous classical music concerts in the church.

    Grodzka 52a, Kraków, Malopolska, Poland

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