Krakow is a city with a thousand years of tradition, a former residence of the Polish kings, whereas today it is an important, European metropolis. The Old Town district is a unique treasury of works of art, historical mementos and historic buildings which represent almost all architectural styles, from the Middle Ages to the present
For centuries, the heart of the city was the Main Market Square – the largest urban square of the Medieval Europe, preserved unchanged since 1257 and entered in the first list of the UNESCO Global Heritage list in 1978. Also, a bugle call has been played every hour from the tower of the St. Mary’s Basilica to the four corners of the world for the last 600 years. Whereas the Cloth Hall – a Medieval covered market situated in the middle of the Market Square – are one of the most recognizable Polish monuments. Krakow can also boast the second oldest (after the Prague university) college in Central Europe – the Jagiellonian University (its students include Miko³aj Kopernik and the Pope John Paul II), as well as the Wawel Royal Castle – the residence of the Polish kings on Wawel hill date back to mid-11th century. Currently, the castle serves as a museum, offering as much as 71 exhibition halls, which display, for instance, unique antiques of the Renaissance. One particularly admirable feature is the arcaded courtyard of the castle – a gem of Renaissance architecture.
Apart from the monuments of the Old Town, the tourist are unvaryingly intrigued by the Kazimierz district – a place of centuries-old coexistence of two cultures – Christian and Jewish.
The area is filled with Judaic monuments of global significance, but mainly this is a place vibrant with life, where antiques and markets are held and live music can be heard in atmospheric eateries, restaurants and pubs.
Nowa Huta, the most interesting and complete accomplishment of the socialist realist architects’ plans, continues to surprise with its monumentality and symmetry.
Kraków is also a city vibrant with cultural life, which was elected as the European Capital of Culture in 2000. Every year, almost 100 festivals and other world-renown cultural events are held here. It is also a city of modern museums, where the visitors can be eyeball to eyeball with history.
Undoubtedly, Kraków enchants with its unique atmosphere – sometimes lazy, sometimes packed with events, but always exceptional and inspiring. The city, which for ages has been situated at the intersection of important trade routes, at the meeting point of cultures and political influences, is full of riddles and enchanting places, which give the hard-pressed citizens and the visitors plenty of occasions to slow down, stop and look.