Old town. Krakow

Holidays, Kouvola, Travel

Vol. 26, Issue 05, 20 October 2023

Krakow is a charming old town on the banks of the Vistula River, in the valley in front of the Carpathian plateau in southern Poland. In the Old Town you can see about 6 thousand buildings in the Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic styles, as well as more than 2 million works of art. Krakow is the only major city in Poland that was not destroyed during the Second World War. Today Krakow is a well-preserved city with picturesque cobblestone pavements, many churches, museums, cafes, restaurants and bars.

The old Town is surrounded by a ring of wooded park called Planty – there were once old city walls and a moat here. In the southern part of the park is the ancient, fortified hill of Wawel. This is a symbolic place of great importance for Poles since both the royal castle and the Gothic cathedral are located here. The Mariacki Church, one of the main attractions of Krakow. The church began to be built in the XIV century, but it was completed and rebuilt more than 500 years.

The facade faces the Main Market – the central square of the city. In addition to the church, there are also Cloth rows on the square – shopping malls or numerous living courtyards. The Town hall tower sticks out above the rows – the only surviving part of the Krakow Town Hall, destroyed in 1820. To the south of the castle is located Kazimierz, a former Jewish quarter, which interestingly combines the old and the new. Its quiet synagogue recalls the tragic events of the Second World War, while the narrow streets and low houses in recent years have been in the center of a lively nightlife. There are more than 125 churches in Krakow — 60 in the Old Town alone. Here, in the very center of the square, there is a red brick tower – the City Hall. Interestingly, the Krakow Town Hall has a huge dungeon – once prisoners were tortured in it, and now a part of the Krakow Historical Museum is located.  The richest merchants lived in the colourful buildings located around the perimeter of the square. In front of the Sukennice building, you can also see the partially buried Church of St. Wojciech and the monument to the Polish poet Adam Mitzkiewicz, which has become a traditional meeting place for Krakow residents.

Near the old city market there is another square, smaller – the Mariatskaya, which faces the second elegant facade of the church. From here begins the main pedestrian street of the city – Florentine. All the main shops of the city are located here, interspersed with coffee shops and pubs. After a walk, there is the ancient city gate – the Florentine Brama. Immediately behind them is another medieval defensive structure – the Barbican fortress of the 15th century.

According to my own assessment, I liked Krakow more than Warsaw. It is this city that is imbued with tranquility, peace and some kind of quiet spiritual happiness. Thus, everyone should visit this city and feel the ancient atmosphere and plunge into the memories of the past.

Kseniia Parshina
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