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Centrum Turystyki i Edukacji Regionalnej Gaja - Cracow Guide

What's worth seeing in Cracow? - Cracow Guide

The Royal Way

In medieval times this royal way was the route the king and his court procession took from outside the walled city to the castle.

Today it’s a must for any visitor to Cracow who wants to retrace the footsteps of Poland’s ancient kings, queens, princes and princesses.

Some highlights of this route:

  • Original parts of the medieval city walls. St. Florian's gate which is the one and only remaining of the seven medieval gates in and out of Cracow. The Barbican – It was the first line of defense that lay just outside the city walls. It actually is shaped like a deep pot and this is where it gets its Polish name. To be stationed at this outpost was only for the brave.

    Legend says that the remaining part of the wall was kept intact to protect the women of Cracow from the strong and unpredictable north wind that could blow up women’s dresses and skirts.

  • The Market Square - The largest medieval market square in world. Nothing can compare to its vast expanse of space and history.
  • St. Mary’s Church - The famous burglar’s parish and the most characteristic church in Poland. St. Mary’s has the greatest medieval Alter in all of Europe This master piece was by Veit Stoss from the XV c. The Alter took 12 years to create and the price paid was equivalent to the entire city’s budget for a whole year. In retrospect, 600 years latter, it was more than worth the price, as art historians believe it to be priceless.

    From a top the church tower a trumpeter plays every hour his unfinished melody to all four cardinal directions. In fact the trumpeters have not missed an hour for over 175 years now. In the summer you visit the famous trumpeter of Cracow and ask him any question, that is if you are willing to climb all 239 steps.

  • Cloth hall – Shop in the oldest continually running shopping mall. Here you can find lots of tempting colorful booths with souvenirs sometimes at surprising low old world prices. Upstairs was the first Polish art museum. You can find here lots of tempting colorful booths with souvenirs.
  • Franciscans Monastery - Cracow actually has several active monasteries. The Franciscan one dates back to the XIII c. The church was a witness to many important historical events and perhaps more importantly centuries of untold stories of everyday people. The monastery's interiors are decorated with beautiful stained glass and paintings from the Polish artistic genius Wyspiański. Cloisters hide rare wall paintings from the XV c. Many of these paintings are undiscovered works.
  • Bishop's Palace with "Pope's Window", Planty – park surrounds the old town district like a ring. You can chill out here in the shadows of trees or... watch the walking people and absorb the town's atmosphere, Grodzka Street is one of the oldest and main street of Cracow. On Grodzka Street can find a quaint with the unique leather handmade accessories, such things as bags, shoes, belts, hats etc. or shop with artistic jewelery , St. Peter and Paul Church – considered as the first baroque church in Poland. If you are interested in archeology you can visit the Archaeological Museum.
  • St.Andrew's Church - Romanesque temple from the XI c., whose mighty walls allowed Cracovians to defend themselves against the Mongols attack in the XIII c. Next to the church, behind the monastery gate, Clariscians Sisters protect unique Nativity play's figurines from the XIV c.
  • Kanonicza Street – The oldest and charming streets of Cracow. Newly in the Palace of Bishop Ciolek, you can visit the exhibition "The Art of Poland. XII – XVIII c." It's one of the most distinguished collections of art in Poland.

Jagiellonian University

Jagiellonian University was sat up by the King Kazimierz the Great in 1364 and renewed thanks to the generosity of Queen Jadwiga. It is the oldest college in Poland, and one of the oldest in Europe.

The first women officially attended Jagiellonian university in the XIX c. ...However centuries before wearing men’s clothes, Nawojka, a polish girl, studied at Jagiellonian, with her gender remaining anonymous. So it could be said Nawojka was not only the first women university student, but she was centuries ahead of her time in terms of fashion trends.

We recommend you visit the oldest building of the university with its enchanting courtyard - Collegium Maius. It is worth to see the museum and go for a while on the interactive exhibition "The World of the Senses".

Just around the corner from Jagiellonian is the Church of st. Anna, a baroque masterpiece. It is said that "architecture is music frozen". If you experience St. Anna and its interiors you will know what this expression means.

For tourists, which have more time in Cracow and want to look at every nook and cranny of the university, we suggest to visit the Botanic Gardens, the Museum of Pharmacy, The Museum of Anthropology, the Museum of the Medicine History or the Anatomopathology Museum.

Wawel Hill

  • State Rooms

    Seeing the state rooms is a must. In the past it was where official,. the dignitaries and king's guests were received. In some of the rooms you can see even renaissance wooden ceilings and paintings. The walls are still decorated by a famous, priceless collection of tapestries from XVI c.

  • Royal Private Apartments

    The first floor of the castle held the private royal apartments, chambers for court members and guest rooms. The interior’s style can only be found here, they are very unique. You can see here: the Italian paintings from the Lanckoroński's family collection or the porcelain from Meisen.

  • Crown Treasury and Armory

    At the end of XVIII c. The Prussians broke into the Treasury and almost completely destroyed its contents. What exists in the treasure today is a mix of the items which survived the looting and a continuously growing collection from private donations, and acquisitions, include the sword of the Polish kings.

    The Armory features different types of the state weapons, suits of amour and shows their evolution over the centuries.

  • The Cathedral

    The place of the Royal's coronations and the polish crypts of Kings, queens, heroes and saints. As you walk from tomb to tomb which show the actual face of the kings, it is like strolling though the centuries of Polish history. You can also see here the famed Sigismund's Bell, which weighs 11 tones. There's a custom, if you touch "the heart" of the bell you will find the happiness. The bell jingles only on special ceremonies and great occasions.

  • Oriental Art

    Poland is at the cross roads between the ancient east and west. The exhibit presents carpets, silks, tapestries, weapons and armory, ceremonial horse saddles and equestrian equipment which eventually became items of everyday and ceremonial use by noblemen and the royal court. This art on exhibit reminds us of the rich trade routes and contacts with the Near East, Far east and the battles with Turks fought in XVII c.

  • The Dragon’s Den

    It's one of the most common points of curiosity in Cracow, often visited by the tourists.

    The popular polish legend says, that the cave below Wawel Hill, was a long long time ago inhabited by a very ferocious Wawel's dragon, which was aced at last by the smart shoemaker "Dratewka" (it means: "Twine").


Kazimierz was the king's quarter, actually a separate town, part of which became, in medieval times, the Jewish District. It is a place of amazing atmosphere and history, full of charming cafeterias, colorful streets and mysterious corners.

Places especially worth seeing:

  • Skałka – The National Pantheon
  • Gothic Temples of Kazimierz – St. Kathrine and Corpus Christi Churches
  • Jewish District - Place of very interesting past and fascinating colors. It is worth to walk though the route of Jewish Monuments. There are lots of synagogues; Jewish cemeteries and meandering streets and courtyards let you know the history of the ancient citizens and some of the Jewish traditions or customs.

    We suggest also, for organized groups of youths, Jewish dance and paper-cutting workshops. It is also possible to take a part in Hebrew or Yiddish language lessons.

    At the end of your sightseeing you can enjoy your time at one of the Jewish restaurant, with authentic Eastern European Jewish food. During the treat you can listen to the concert of klezmer music. It's also worth to visit the Museum of the Urban Engineering on Wawrzyńca Street. You can scour here in the numerous shops with old curiosities and antiques...

Nowa Huta

Nowa Huta – A place rich and very unusual history, still undervalued and undiscovered by many inhabits.

It is one of the oldest settlements in Poland from even the Neolithic time people live in Nowa Huta. In Nowa Huta lived Celtic and Slavic tribes. One of the most amazing places here is the Wanda's Maud, which is probably the ancient grave of the daughter of the founder of Cracow, Princess Wanda . In fact, the old settlement here was called "The Grave".

Here you can find here old and almost forgotten residences and manors, which belonged, in the old times, to rich and famous families. Now they exist as the testaments to a forgotten gold age.

If you are interested in history or military archeology you can find here lots of interesting things, such as... forts from the XIX c. and one of the oldest airports in Europe, which is today the Polish Aviation Museum. A very big attraction is the History of Communism.

Nowa Huta seems to be a little bit different world. Almost surreal. Why?

In the 1949 Stalin’s wanted to create a "new city" which would stand in opposition to the intellectual, conservative and pious Cracow. Many visitors to Cracow come to Cracow because they want to see a living monument to communist realism. Many locals are puzzled why would you want to see a Communist city, however, the answer the tourists give is ‘we have nothing even remotely similar to anything like this in the USA or UK. For tourists it is almost like visiting something in a science fiction movie.

Nowa Huta was the seat of a combined steel or metallurgical industrial complex side by side with an agriculturally rich and innovative farming complex. Stalin wanted to punish the artistic and freedom loving Cracovians with these bizarre monstrosities of industrialization. Nowa Huta purpose was to raise a new generation of Socialist Utopians. It was to be a city without God. Do you want to know, if he succeed ? You can ask any tour guide, while you tour its magnificent new churches, or when you are standing in the center at Ronald Regan Square.