Undamaged and attractive
Cracow is known as ‘the Florence of Poland’. This is not without reason, as the city has suffered little violence of war. The historical city centre is still largely in its original state and has therefore been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The centre of Cracow (Polish: Kraków) is diverse. Various architectural styles present themselves, although the Renaissance style prevails. The Great Market Square dominates. It dates from the 13th century and measures 200 by 200 meters. At the edge of the Great Market Square, the eye is caught by Saint Mary’s Church, the Cloth Hall and the Town Hall Tower. Saint Anne’s Church is located a bit further and is a paragon of classicism. A salient detail: this church is designed by the Dutch architect Tielman van Gameren.
Cracow is partly situated on the Hill of Wawel. The legendary Cave of the Dragon is found underneath this hill, whereas on the top the castle and cathedral of Wawel rise above the city. This castle was the residence of the royal family for a long time.
Excursions are organised from Cracow to the former concentration camp of Auschwitz. It does not make for a cheerful trip, but it is very impressive. Documents, photographs and other personal belongings bring history uncomfortably close to home.
Hundreds of pubs
Going out is a luxury problem in Cracow. There are more than 200 pubs in the centre, so where to begin? By the way, these are often piwnice (basement pubs). Via long staircases you descend to small underground cafes. Some pubs, on the other hand, are located in attics. In any case, Cracow is a student city and this means plenty of atmosphere and friendliness.