Krakow, Travel Guide
Krakow (also written Cracow) is the former capital of Poland and still one of the country’s most important cities. It is also considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe thanks to the excellent preservation of its buildings and its rich artistic cultural heritage.
Krakow’s Old Town, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is packed with exquisite Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance-style edifices.
Over two million tourists visit Krakow every year, not only because of the kindness of its inhabitants and the allure of the city, but also because it is very close to the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
Kraków may no longer be Poland’s political capital, but it makes a strong case for being the country’s cultural capital. The annual list of festivals and events is as long as your arm, and every week, it seems, brings another celebration of theatre, the arts, music, film, dance, literature and, yes, food. Did we mention there’s even a pierogi fest? Outside the festival calendar, Cracovians are inveterate theatregoers, jazz aficionados, poetry lovers, film buffs and klezmer listeners, and seemingly every corner of the city, every dark basement and hidden garden, buzzes with artistic anticipation.
Architecture buffs will think they died and went to heaven. Over the thousand years of Kraków’s existence, all of the great European architectural styles – Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and art nouveau – have cycled through and left behind traces that prove the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of the parts. Find the world’s largest late-Gothic altarpiece within the darkened interiors of St Mary’s Basilica, and then step out into the sunshine to see the gleaming 16th-century Renaissance Cloth Hall, built at a time when Kraków’s royal authority was at its apex.