Krakow  (Kraków)

  Picture: cloth hall on Rynok Glowny

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» Barbican
» Cathedral
» City hall tower
» Cloth Hall
» Collegium Maius
» Corpus Christi church
» Florian gate
» Pauline church on the rock
» Piarist church
» Schindler's factory
» St.-Andreas' church
» St.-Anna's church
» St.-Bernardine church
» St.-Florian's church
» St.-Mary's church
» St.-Peter and Paul's church
» J. Slowackitheater
» Wawel walls
» Wawel Royal castle
» more..

» Czartoryski Museum
» Jagiellonian Univ. Museum
» Museum of contemp. art (Mocak)
» National Museum
» Schindler's factory Museum
» more...

» Kazimierz (Joods) district
» Plac Matejki
» Plac Szczepanski
» Rynek Glowny
» Ulica Florianska
» Ulica Kanonicza
» Volledig overzicht...

Krakow (Cracow)

General.  Krakow is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Europe and that can be clearly seen when you enter the old town center: tourist trains, horse carriages and touroperators are everywhere to please the thousands of tourists that visit the old town center.  Krakow has some very nice spots and striking buildings of which the cloth hall on the huge main square (Rynok Glowny) is probably the most eye-catching.  When exploring the old town, it will difficult to count all the churches, which underlines the importance this town had in earlier days.  Spared from major destruction during World War II, Krakow preserved much of its historical buildings and character.  In 1978 it was registered as a Unesco World Heritage site.

History in short.  Krakow is one of the oldest cities of Poland.  Early settlements date back to paleolithic times but the town was only first mentioned at the end of the 10th century.  By then there was already an significant commercial centre here.  In 1038, Krakow became the capital of Poland, with the Wawel castle being the residence of the Polish kings, which made the town grow and flourish.  The Polish kings were crowned and burried in Wawel cathedral.

The 13th century was a period of unrest by Mongol invasions, which resulted in the town being ravaged and plundered several times.  In order to protect herself, defensive walls and watchtowers were built around the town.

Krakow experienced its golden age from the late 14th till the late 16th century, starting with the rule of Kazimierz the Great.  He expanded the town and founded the Krakow Academy (Jagellonian University) in 1364.  During that golden age, the renaissance was introduced in Krakow.  Many new buildings were constructed and others were transformed.  Krakow's importance started to decline when the seat of government was moved to Warsaw in 1596, but Krakow remained the place where the kings were coronated.

The following period in history was marked by the subsequential invasions from foreign nations and the partition of Poland by it's conquerers: Swedes, Prussians, Russians, Austrians, Napoleon and again the Austrians.  Krakow became a centre of revolt and it's prosperity went up or down depending on the foreign ruler. 

In World War II, the town was captured by Nazi Germany in September 1939.  Professors from the Jagellonian University were emprisonned and the Jewish citizens (mainly from the Kazimierz district) were forced to move into a ghetto created in the Podgorze district.  Many died in the ghetto or were sent to labour or extermination camps such as Auschwitz.  Krakow was liberated in January 1945 by the Red Army, leaving most of the historic centre intact, miraculously.

Krakow's areas to visit.  The city is divided in several districts. The most touristic areas are the old town center, Wawel and Kazimierz district.


Picture 1: Rynek Glowny with the Cloth hall and city hall tower
Picture 2: Wawel with cathedral and castle
Picture 3: Rynek Glowny with in front the church of St.-Wojcieck and St.-Mary church in the back
Picture 4: Advertising for KL Auschwitz and the Wieliczka salt mines
Picture 5: Feeding the pigeons on Rynek Glowny
Picture 6: Market on Rynek Glowny
Picture 7: Street lamp in Ul. Kanoniczka
Picture 8: Horse carriages
Picture 9: Street view near Wawel castle


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