Krakow is a magical city, made for those individuals who love to walk and explore. The highlight of Krakow is the Rynek Glowny (Main Square), the cultural and social hub of this historic city. Punctuating the square is the Sukiennice and the medieval Town Hall Tower.
Kazimierz, the south-east quarter of Krakow, was the historical center of Krakow’s Jewish religious and social life. Originally a separate town named after King Casimier the Great, it was incorporated into Krakow in the 18th c. Our tour of Kazimierz takes in the most important monuments in this area. Steven Spielberg used this area for his location shots of the Oscar winning “Schindler’s List”. Join us as we visit the most precious monuments of the Jewish culture in Krakow: the Old Synagogue (now the Judaic Dept. of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow), the Remuh Synagogue and the Remuh Cemetery.
Krakow has more to offer for the first time visitor than old churches and medieval buildings. Within the city and nearby vicities we will visit:
Auschwitz - Birkenau Concentration camps: The most well-known cemetery and place of genocide in the
world. Started in 1940 as a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners, Auschwitz became the center for extermination of European Jews in 1942. During 1940-1945, the Nazis killed about 1,500,000 here, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Gypsies, Soviet POWs and members of other nationalities.
Pieskowa Skala: a well-preserved Renaissance Castle along the route “Eagles Nests Trail”. High on a cliff over the valley of the Pradnik River, this 14th century fortification was rebuilt in the 16th century as a Renaissance residence. Today it is home to the Museum of the National Wawel Art Collections. Nearby is the Club of Hercules, a natural rock formation (25 meters high) characteristic of the Ojcow National Park in which the whole area is located.
The Gallery of Polish 19th century art: in the National Museum in Krakow has been associated with the Cloth hall from the very beginning. This medieval trading hall was decorated with an Italianate Renaissance attic by Giovanni Padavano in the 16th century and thoroughly rebuilt in the years 1875-1879.
Wawel Hill: is crowned by Wawel Castle and the Wawel Cathedral and was the seat of royal power up until the 17th century. The castle has been home to many Polish kings and queens and the royal crypts in the Cathedral their final resting place. The history of Wawel Hill is long. It was originally built between the 10th and 11th centuries. In the 12th century a fortified castle stood on the hill when Wladyslaw the Short sought to strengthen Krakow’s role as a capital city. The Castle courtyard is one of the finest examples of Italian Renaissance architecture in Poland. The three towers of the
Cathedral dominate the features of the Hill. The present gothic Cathedral is the 3rd on the site; first begun in 1320 and was consecrated in 1364. Enjoy your pictorial tour of Wawel Hill.
The Tombs of the Kings: the lower level of the Wawel Cathedral contains a rich collection of the tombs of Polish Kings and Queens, as well as notable Poles who carved out its rich history. The mortal remains of these individuals contained within their respective crypts are at times pilgrimages to the faithful. Every person of royalty who played an important part in Polish history is buried here. Without exception, the sculptural effigies on the tombs of the Polish Kings and Bishops are the most important
group of monuments inside the Cathedral. Their funerary chapels, together with their tombs, become objects of veneration.
Sigismund Tower: Let’s walk up the steep and narrow wooden steps to see and touch the various monstrously large bells housed in this tower. Tradition holds that if you touch the “heart of the bell”, the clapper, you are certain to return to Krakow.
Wieliczka Salt Mine: Legend has it that the salt mines in Wieliczka were part of the dowry
of the Hungarian princess, Kinga, when she wed Boleslaw the Shy over 700 years ago, making the Wieliczka Salt Mine, one of the oldest in all of Europe. Over the centuries, devout and superstitious miners have
carved out fabulous figures, monuments and altarpieces out of its salt walls. These amazing works of art, in addition to the mine’s historical importance, have earned the Wieliczka Salt Mine a place on the
UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list. The route through the mine leads through galleries and chambers
on three levels, from 64 to 135 meters below the ground, including the unique and richly ornamental Chapel of the Blessed Kinga. The route is 2.5 kilometers long and one must walk down 400 steps to reach the first level. A experience not soon forgotten.
Official web site (English) ... Wieliczka Salt Mine
Zakopane: Nestled at the foot of the spectacular Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is the winter sports capital of Poland and its famous resort. During the winter, plentiful snow and challenging runs make for excellent skiing while the summer months offer hikers mountain lakes, glacial valleys and waterfalls.