The Malopolskie Voivodship - Not only puff pastries with cream
..."Every evening in Krakow ended long past midnight! We walked from museum to museum, visited old churches and the magnificent Royal Castle on Wawel Hill.... and it still feels that we have only seen a small part of this unique city. The greatest discovery was the painting of the Lady with an Ermine, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. In my opinion, it is more beautiful than the
Mona Lisa! Only here, there is so much to see and you can have so much fun cheaply. It's a shame to waste any time sleeping!"
You cannot say you know Poland if you have not visited the Malopolskie (Lesser Poland) Voivodship. Krakow, the former capital of Poland can be found here. In the south of the region are the impressive Tatra Mountains, Poland's highest mountain range. This is also where Poland shares its border with Slovakia. On the Polish side the Region is surrounded by three other Voivodships, Silesia, Swietokrzyskie and the Podkarpackie. The region can also boast five sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Krakow, the capital of the Voivodship is the former capital of Poland and also the former seat of Polish monarchy. Its greatness is intertwined with the history of the city. Visitors are enchanted by Wawel, the royal castle with its cathedral. The former Jewish quarter of Kazimierz has the charm of "Montmatre" in Paris and the endless, grey concrete apartment blocks in the communist-built city of Nowa Huta have an atmosphere taken straight from George Orwell's "1984".
The Malopolska region was also the birthplace and home to the Polish Pope, John Paul II. The town of Wadowice was his hometown and today is still visited by thousands of pilgrims who queue in the local patisseries to buy the traditional puff pastry cakes with cream, the Pontiff's favourite cake. Apparently the demand for sweet products from Wadowice is so great that often they have to be brought in from Krakow.
The nature in the Malopolska region is much diversified. There are, of course, the Tatra Mountains, the only alpine-like mountains in the south of Poland. Further to the east, the Beskidy are gentle hills that are covered with forests and the rocky limestone Pieniny Mountains where rafting on the Dunajec River is a great delight for those visiting the area. Limestone crags, weathered canyons and water-eroded caves are some of the major attractions of the Krakow-Czestochowa Highland Region.
The climate of the Malopolska Region and its abundance of mineral springs aids greatly in the treatment of numerous ailments. Tourists can visit the salt mines in Bochnia and Wieliczka, which is the oldest salt mine in Poland. In Oswiecim, the Museum of the Nazi concentration camp reminds us of the millions of people, mostly Jews, which were murdered at this facility. The whole site has now been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Tradition is highly valued in the region. Passion Plays are performed regularly during Easter at the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. Singers perform in churches at Christmas and Corpus Christi festivities and the "Lajkonik", a reminder of the invasion of Poland by the Tatars, gallops around in the Main Market Square in Krakow. Every December a competition is also held here to find the best crib of the year.