Poland’s most recognizable town

Once the royal residence, by far, the most visited city in Poland today.

The Old Town surrounded by the green belt of the Planty Park, the Jagiellonian University and the Royal Castle Wawel: these sights are the most strongly associated with Poland. All walking tours begin or end in the Main Market Square, near the Cloth Hall, a 16th-century market hall continuing the tradition of trade to this day. The upper floor of the  Cloth Hall houses the  Gallery of  19th Century Polish Art. Below the square, preserved vaults are a priceless repository of knowledge about the town’s history and its connections to Europe. Centuries-old artifacts are on display as part of this extraordinary archaeological multimedia exhibit. During the most momentous events and ceremonies, the Sigismund Bell tolls and its sound carries from the Wawel Cathedral over the Old Town.

The vaults of the Wawel Cathedral are the burial site of Polish kings, saints, poets, and distinguished military leaders. Under the golden cupola of the Sigismund Chapel, the last kings from the Jagiellonian dynasty lie interred. The cathedral vaults are also the place where many influential people, including poets, saints, and presidents, are buried.  A few steps away from the Old Town, Kazimierz begins. Nowadays a district of the city, it was once a separate town, inhabited mostly by Jews between the 14th and the 19th centuries. Orthodox Jews from all over the globe come here to pay homage to distinguished rabbis buried in the old cemetery in Kazimierz. For locals and tourists, Kazimierz is chiefly synonymous with clubs, pubs and restaurants, and a tremendous nightlife.

Greenery is no less vital to Kraków’s cityscape than its historical monuments. Kraków’s Old Town is surrounded by the impressive two and a half miles green ring called the Planty. This park was constructed on the site of the city’s medieval moats, which were filled in early in the 19th century. Forty species of trees and shrubs were gradually planted in their place. The most magnificent specimens, such as the hundred and thirty year old plane tree at the end of Wiślna Street, are natural monuments. Kraków is also home to Europe’s largest urban meadow. Drained in the 19th century, nowadays Błonia is a favorite place for walking, jogging, and cycling. In the past, the meadow was used for military exercises and served as a venue for momentous events. Today, it regularly hosts large-scale cultural and sporting events with thousands in the audience. Among the other green areas beloved by the locals, one has to name the two mounds towering over Kraków. They were built to commemorate Poland’s national heroes, Tadeusz Kościuszko and Józef Piłsudski.

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