A welcome change from the touristy havens of Europe, the quiet and unassuming Krakow slowly draws you in. While it has all the usual trappings of an European city – a winding river Vistula; an imposing Wawel Castle, a magnificent Brick Gothic church, St. Mary’s Basilica – making it one of the most beautiful cities of the continent; Krakow also has some of the most stark remnants of the Holocaust era – the Jewish district, the Jewish Ghetto, Schindler’s Factory- to name a few. If there is one city that transports you back and forward in time and sentiment with such fervent alacrity, this is it.
Main Market Square – the bustling city centre is perhaps the most convenient starting point for any city tour. Whether you prefer exploring the city on foot, cycles or even horse carriages (!), you can explore all tour options here.
St. Mary’s Basilica – Dotting one corner of the Market Square, you will definitely need to spend some time inside this marvellous church to absorb the beauty of the exquisite carvings.
Spires of Wawel as seen at dusk. This is perhaps the most significant landmark in Krakow. This complex also served as the residence of Hans Frank, the much vilified Nazi Governor General of occupied Poland.
A morning at Old Town, the historical and vibrant district of Krakow. It has been recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO and most of the Krakow’s prominent landmarks are in and around.
While in the Old Town, do try out a hearty Polish meal! My recommendation – Beetroot soup and traditional dumplings!
Planty Park – Once a moat encircling the Old Town, the Planty Park is now a green stretch running through the heart of Krakow. You will find all sorts of Cracowians here – the monk walking hurriedly to the church, a young couple taking their dog out for a morning walk or an odd old man sharing his bread with the birds…
Kazimeirz (Jewish district) – Famous for being the location where much of Schinder’s List was shot, this district is known for its prominent Jewish community. Dotted with numerous Jewish shops, restaurants, you may almost forget its history if not for the odd traces here and there (the Jewish population was almost wiped out during the Holocaust). Perhaps the most significant landmark being the old synagogue with inscribed dedications in memory of the families which did not survive the Holocaust.
Schindler’s Factory – Well, this needs to be on your checklist, isnt’s it? Though the factory is now a modern looking museum which showcases the journey of the Nazi occupation. The highlight is definitely Schindler’s room itself that remains unfettered with the creaky wooden floor, the world map on the wall, the mahogany desk with pictures scattered over it…
The empty chair memorial monument for the murdered Jews at the Podgorze Ghetto in Krakow. The Jews of Kazimierz were forced into the Ghetto during the Second World War, and ultimately taken to the concentration camps and eventual death…