Kraków is a beautiful cultural city in southern Poland best known for its well-preserved medieval buildings and Jewish quarter, as well as many other wonderful sights.
As folklore goes, the Dragon of Wawel Hill lived in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill on the bank of the Vistula River in Kraków. The Wawel Dragon Statue can be seen at the foot of the Wawel Hill in front of its den and actually breathes real fire!
St. Mary’s Basilica sits in the Main Square in Kraków and was founded in 1221–22 by the Bishop of Kraków. The original building does not exist as it was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of Poland. Although a new church was built on the remaining foundations between 1290–1300, it was again completely rebuilt between 1355 and 1365. Many additions have been added inside and out over the years and the final Basilica built in the neo-Gothic design is stunning today.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the only mine in the world to run continuously since it was first mined in the Middle Ages. Today, the mine is both a monument and an art gallery where you will find historical tunnels, vast chambers, reliefs, chapels and freestanding sculptures carved from the salt rock walls. There are even chandeliers carved entirely out of the walls of rock salt as well as a large underground lake.
The images above are a chilling reminder of the Holocaust and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps which lie just over 50 kilometers west of Kraków in the small town of Oswiecim. It was established in 1940 and originally constructed to hold Polish political prisoners before becoming a site of the Nazi extermination of Jews transported to the camp by train from all over German occupied Europe. At the very least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz including Jews, non-Jewish Poles, Roma and Sinti people, Soviet POWs and many others from different nations. Since the war ended, the site has been preserved as a museum and memorial, receiving over a million visitors a year. To visit Auschwitz-Birkenau can be a very upsetting and moving experience, but maybe a necessity to be reminded to never let it happen again.
The Wawel Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church situated on Wawel Hill in Kraków, Poland and was first constructed in the 11th century. The present gothic Cathedral is actually the third construction on the site as the first and second were destroyed in the 11th and 12th century respectively. The Wawel Cathedral has been the main coronation and burial site for Polish monarchs since the 14th century and has been significantly extended to house additional burial chapels.
Kraków Old Town is the historic medieval central district of Kraków and one of the first sites chosen for the UNESCO’s original World Heritage List. The Main Market Square in the Old town is one of the biggest squares in Europe and has an abundance of horse and carriage rides to enjoy.
Soak up the atmosphere and embark on a truly extraordinary experience in Kraków.