Krakow Journals

Krakow - History, Culture and Legends

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An October 2006 trip to Krakow by mightywease

Krakow Photo, Krakow, Poland More Photos
Quote: Krakow is a wonderful, impressive, historic city with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Days were spent wandering around churches, galleries, and beautiful medieval streets, while evenings were spent eating fantastic food and enjoying hearty glasses of warming--and strong--vodka.

Krakow - History, Culture and Legends

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Overview

Krakow Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
We were on a fairly short break to Krakow – four and half days, barely enough time to scratch the surface -- so we stayed mainly around the central area, exploring the Old Quarter, Wawel Hill, Okol and Stradom Quarters and Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter. There was certainly plenty to see -- The Castle and Cathedral on Wawel Hill are well worth lingering in. You may find you want to linger longer than you should over coffee while watching the world go by in the Rynek Glowny (Market Square). While the dignity and peace of the Remu'h Cemetary( will make you want to stand in quiet contemplation. The majesty of Kosciol Mariacki (St. Mary’s Church), with the wo...Read More
Hotel Wit Stwosz Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Hotel Wit Stwosz is in a perfect location for exploring Krakow being a very short, less than 5 minute walk from the Church of St. Mary, Rynek Glowny (the Market Square), the Cloth Hall and other sights in the Old Town with the Castle and Kazimierz a longer but pleasant stroll away. The Planty is basically at the end of the road and the hotel is also about a 10 minute walk from the railway station and bus stop providing access to and from the AirportThe rooms are high-ceilinged, of average size but with plenty of space for storage. As well as the beds (twin-beds pushed together) the rooms contain wardrobe and draw space, a small table and chairs and a TV, the furniture being plain...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 17, 2007

Hotel Wit Stwosz
ul. Mikołajska 28
Krakow, Poland 31-027
+48 (12) 429-60-26

Szara Resto & Bar

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Restaurant | "Szara"

Szara Resto & Bar Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Szara Restaurant is in an ideal location on the Rynek Glowney and in a rainy March it provided a warm, welcoming atmosphere to two tired visitors. Crisp linen, floral decorations, mirrors and crystal gives the restaurant a formal air. In fact in my jeans and boots I felt rather scruffy in such pleasant, smart surroundings. However, whereas in the United Kingdom smart and plush can sometimes mean stuffy and elitist Szara was nothing of the sort. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, we were made to feel very welcome and the service was exemplary. As for the food, well, that was pretty good too. In fact it was very good with a menu that included a mixture of traditional polish...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Szara Resto & Bar
Rynek Glowney 6
Krakow, Poland
+48 (12) 421 66 69

Farina Restaurant

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Restaurant

Farina  Restaurant Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Farina Restaurant, situated a couple of minutes away from Rynek Glowny, has a menu comprising Mediterranean dishes, pasta, traditional Polish cuisine and - its speciality - fresh fish. It’s a charming venue, the decoration is rustic with light green walls, wooden furniture, wooden shutters and subdued lighting - perfect for an intimate evening meal. The atmosphere too is lovely, welcoming and friendly, a lot of the credit for which must be given to the staff who were all excellent. While we were there a table of four rather demanding people arrived and the staff dealt with their ever-increasing requests with great patience and concern. More than I could have mustered - they wer...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Farina Restaurant
Św. Jana 13
Krakow
12 422 16 80

Pod Aniolami

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Restaurant

Pod Aniolami Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The ambience of this restaurant is amazing. Housed in an old cellar, you are welcomed by the sound of running water – courtesy of the small fountain on one wall – and bird song – courtesy of the caged birds singing to each other across the restaurant. We spent a good few minutes trying to decide whether or not the birds were real. They were real, or else they were extremely convincing automata.All this – plus the eclectic collection of bric-a-brac on the walls and the friendly and efficient waiting staff – helps to create an interesting and pleasant atmosphere in which to enjoy the traditional Polish food that is on the menu.We hadFish Soup – delicious‘Angels’ Pate (...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Pod Aniolami
Ulica Grodzka, 35
Krakow, Poland 31-001
+48 12 421 3999

Hawelka

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Restaurant

Market Square (Rynek Glowny) Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
Hawelka restaurant on Rynek Glowney has been serving food to Cracovians and visitors since the 19th century, when Antoni Hawelka opened a breakfast room in his shop. The ambience is European old-style elegance, with muted lighting, wooden partitions, crisp white napkins, and tablecloths. It appeared a bit forbidding when we first entered, but first impressions are not always the full story, as we found the service to be friendly and efficient (our waiter looked disturbingly like a good friend of ours!) and the atmosphere relaxed.As for the food, it was good, solid, traditional, and well cooked, something you can get your teeth into, as my husband put it! And though not the cheapest...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Hawelka
Rynek Główny 34
Krakow, Poland 31-010
+42 (12) 422 06 31

Restauracja Balaton

Restaurant

Restauracja Balaton Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
Situated along the walk from the Rynek Glowny to Wawel Hill, the restaurant Balaton at ul Grodzka 37 provides excellent value Hungarian and Polish cuisine.The surroundings are simple but pleasant: White walls, wooden chairs and benches, black and white photos on the wall, and an array of hanging wooden fish. The menu comprises a variety of soups, brought to your table in a metal dish suspended over an open flame from which you ladle it into your bowl. Herrings, salmon, and salami for starters are followed by main courses of meat (including veal and wild boar goulash), poultry, and fish dishes, many incorporating potato cakes and dumplings. There is, however, only one vegetarian dish: Potato ca...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 9, 2007

Restauracja Balaton
Ulica Grodzka, 35
Krakow, Poland 31-044
+48 12 422 0469

Restauracja Kawaleria

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Restaurant | "Restaurant Kawaleria"

Restauracja Kawaleria Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
I have to admit that when I read that Restaurant Kawaleria, “Cavalry” I believe in Polish, was equine themed, I was worried that I would be sharing a rustic space with a display of horse shoes, horse brasses, horse paintings and, worst of all, cartoons of robust girls on small ponies. I’m afraid I tend to view equine pursuits with ambivalence or bewilderment. However, Kawaleria proved to be an elegant, attractive restaurant specialised in contemporary Polish cuisine. The first two rooms – a bar and dining room - are quite intimate with cream walls, sepia photos, wooden furniture and subdued lighting. The room we were seated in is more of a banqueting space, very pleasant perfect for la...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 17, 2007

Restauracja Kawaleria
ul. Gołębia 4
Krakow, Poland 31-007
+48 (12) 430 24 32

Chlopskie Jadlo

Restaurant

Quote:
To be honest I didn’t really enjoy the meal I had here although I think that is probably due to the choice of dishes we made rather than the quality of the food.Firstly I really liked the interior of the restaurant, like the inside of a rustic country cottage with rough wooden tables and farming and cooking instruments decorating the stone walls. Service was efficient although I got the feeling we were being slightly rushed through our meal – which I would have understood if it was late or they were busy but it was 7pm on a weekday evening and there was only about 4 of us in the restaurant at the time. The food is well cooked, traditional Polish fare – you are given complimentary bread...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 17, 2007

Chlopskie Jadlo
Ulica Sw. Agnieszki, 1
Krakow, Poland 31-071
+48 (12) 421 8520

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral

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Attraction | "Wawel Castle"

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Royal Castle on Wawel Hill probably went through many manifestations between 1038, when Krakow was established as the Polish capital, to 1504, when construction began of the current Renaissance building. It has certainly seen many changes since then. It has seen the royal court moved from Krakow to Warsaw, which became the country's capital. It has been used as an army barracks and occupied by foreign powers. But it has survived and is now a wonderful museum. Entrance to the various parts of the castle i.e. the State Rooms, Royal Apartments, etc. is from the very attractive Italianate courtyard. Three tiers of balconies/colonnades lift your eyes up the building to the decoration below the roof. T...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 19, 2004

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral
Wawel 5
Kraków, Poland 31-001
(+48 12) 422 51 55

St Mary's Basilica

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Attraction | "St. Mary's Church"

St Mary's Basilica Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The construction of the gothic Kosciol Mariacki was begun in the 13th century. The two towers of unequal height, which gives the church its recognizable profile, were finished at different times. The taller of the two with its fairytale castle crown was completed in 1478 and was the city’s watchtower. This is the tower from which the bugle call (hejnal) is sounded on the hour. The shorter tower was finished in 1548. I am not sure that words can adequately describe the majesty of St. Mary's Church. Indeed, when we visited an awed silence was the first reaction to this glorious building. The towers give the outside of church an idiosyncratic air, this asymmetry prompting feelings of friendliness and c...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 19, 2004

St Mary's Basilica
Plac Mariacki 5
Krakow, Poland
+48 (0)12 4225518

Cloth Hall/Sukiennice

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Attraction | "The Cloth Hall and Cloth Hall Gallery"

Cloth Hall/Sukiennice Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Cloth Hall (Sukiennce) stands proudly in the centre of Rynek Glowny, the medieval market square at the heart of the old city. It is an impressive building and one you will probably find yourself coming back to, whether it is to stroll through its arcades, sit in one of its cafes or walk round and admire its facade.  Construction of the Cloth Hall began in 1344, a covered structure which would augment and provide protection for some of the market stalls which crowded into the square. The building was rebuilt, after suffering damage through fire, in 1555 with further reconstruction in the 19th century.  The long oblong building with its cream and brown stonework, internal and exter...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 2, 2004

Cloth Hall/Sukiennice
Main Market Square 3
Krakow, Poland 31-042
+48 12 422 1166

Remuh Cemetery

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Attraction | "Remu'h Cemetery"

Remuh Cemetery Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Remu'h Cemetery was established in 1533. The adjacent synagogue, Krakow’s only active Orthodox Synagogue, is named after Rabbi Moses Isserles (nicknamed Remu'h, the word his initials spell in Hebrew), whose grave is still in the cemetery and which is a place of pilgrimage for Jewish worshippers. Though damaged the cemetery managed to survive the Nazi occupation when other cemeteries were almost entirely destroyed. Excavations in the past years have revealed many buried gravestones and tombs and although it was suspected that this may have been due to neglect or vandalism it appears that they were deliberately buried to save them from an earlier threat, possibly Swedish invasion in the 19th centu...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 2, 2004

Remuh Cemetery
Ulica Szeroka, 40
Krakow, Poland 31-053

Gallery of 20th Century Polish Arts

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Attraction

Gallery of 20th Century Polish Arts Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Gallery of 20th century Polish Art in Krakow's National Museum is a wide-ranging and eclectic exhibition showcasing Polish Artists and the different influences and styles of art that have emerged or been reinterpreted since the beginning of the last century. The gallery is composed of a series of interconnecting rooms each with a heading such as "Avant Garde", "Colourism", and "This is what Poland is Like" under which the art in that room is grouped. Within some of the rooms are dividers which, I assume, are to allow more space to hang exhibits, but which also provide the viewer with pleasant little nooks and crannies to explore. It also helps to break the galleries into smaller, bite si...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 2, 2006

Gallery of 20th Century Polish Arts
National Museum
Krakow, Poland

Market Square (Rynek Glowny)

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Attraction | "Rynek Glowny (Market Square)"

Market Square (Rynek Glowny) Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Market Square in Krakow is the heart of the city—both physically and figuratively—in so many ways. Situated almost at the centre of the Old Quarter roads branch off into other areas of the city making it a good starting point to explore. In the summer, tables spread out from the cafes which surround the square turning it into an outdoor bar, towards the end of the year a Christmas Market brings stalls selling gifts, decorations, and hot wine to cut through the cold evenings. It’s a thoroughfare, meeting place, promenade, and—as we saw the last time we were there—even a racetrack for local school children.At 656 feet square the Rynek Glowney is the largest town square in Eu...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 2, 2006

Market Square (Rynek Glowny)
At The Center Of The Old Town
Krakow, Poland

Pomnik Grunwaldzki (Grunwald Monument)

Attraction | "Wyspianski Monument"

Pomnik Grunwaldzki (Grunwald Monument) Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
This monument to the great Polish playwright and artist Stanislaw Wyspianski shows him surrounded by characters from two of his plays. Apparently there was a lot of criticism of the monument when it was first unveiled. Not being familiar with any of Wyspianski's plays I don't know whether the criticism was levelled at the way the characters have been represented or the style of the sculpture. Coming to it from a complete uninformed viewpoint I rather liked the solid, stoic characteristics of the figures.The location, however, is pretty terrible. Outside the National Museum is fine but at the end of the car park outside the National Museum isn't! It simply doesn't do it any justice;...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 2, 2006

Pomnik Grunwaldzki (Grunwald Monument)
Plac Matejki
Krakow, Poland 31-157

Market Square (Rynek Glowny)

Attraction | "Rynek Glowny (Market Square)"

Market Square (Rynek Glowny) Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
Krakow is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year but being there just before Christmas was very special.

On one side of Rynek Glowny was a Christmas Market with stalls selling gifts, cards, and lovely wickerwork Christmas decorations. Entertainment came in the form of choirs and groups of musicians performing traditional songs and carols on a small stage set up near the centre of the market.

To warm yourself up there are stalls selling hot wine and, for the hungry meat eaters among you, huge pork knuckles and sausages which when combined with some bread and mustard, were—according to my carnivorous husband—“champion”!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 2, 2006

Market Square (Rynek Glowny)
At The Center Of The Old Town
Krakow, Poland

Wodka

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Attraction

Wodka Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
As the name of this cafe bar suggests it specialises in Vodka. Or, as the proprietors put it on their business card - "We just like vodka". We do indeed and, at Wodka you can sample various makes, flavours and types. So much so that I should try and ensure that your hotel is not too far away as you may find that walking in a straight line is rather more difficult after you leave than when you went in.It's a small bar with whitewashed walls, decorated by a few black and white pictures, a couple of tables down stairs and a few more upstairs, where you'll also find the space-capsule like toilet.The staff are young, friendly and helpful. Ask them to recommend a type of vodka, maybe by ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Wodka
Mikolajska 5
Krakow, Poland

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral

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Attraction | "Wawel Cathedral, The"

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Cathedral of St. Stanislaw was built between 1320 and 1364, on the site of two earlier churches, however, over the years various additions mean that the cathedral retains elements of Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance architecture and style.Before entering the cathedral walk across to the far side of Wawel Hill from where the view of the building, with its spires, towers and domes has a fairytale aspect. Move closer and the external decoration shows status and ornamental guttering. Just outside the entrance hang the bones of a "ancient creature" which if they fall, according to legend, will presage the end of the world.Inside the cathedral is quite small and intimate, ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 3, 2006

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral
Wawel 5
Kraków, Poland 31-001
(+48 12) 422 51 55

U Kacpra

Attraction

Market Square (Rynek Glowny) Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
If you like your beer cold and your music rocking then U Kacpra at ul. Slawkowska 2 is the place to be.It’s a fantastic, dark, vaulted cellar bar with brick walls, low lighting, wooden benches, stools and tables, and a pounding soundtrack of AC/DC, Nightwing, and others. Sit on the raised platform at the back—probably called a mezzanine in chicer places but you don’t go to U Kacpra for chic!—and you have a fantastic view over the often crowded floor below. Sit by the bar and you are truly in the thick of things and never much more than a nod away from your next Zywiec or vodka. The atmosphere is great and the crowd comprises a good mix of locals and visitors of varied ages. At weekends...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 6, 2007

U Kacpra
ulica Sławkowska 2
Krakow, Poland 31-014
+48 12 421 8826

Czartoryski Museum

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Attraction

Quote:
The Czartoryski Museum is an eclectic and interesting collection of artwork and curios begun by Princess Isabella Czartoryski in 1800 and continued by her descendants. Originally situated in the Polish town of Pulawy the collection was brought to Krakow in the early 1870s where is has remained since except for the disruption and removal of various pieces during the First and Second World Wars.The archaeology gallery contains an impressive selection of classical statuary, sarcophagi and - always a source of fascination - mummies including mummified cats and birds. There is also an exhibition of weaponry and armour, much of it Turkish captured after the Battle of Vienna on 1683.For many,...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 17, 2007

Czartoryski Museum
Ulica sw. Jana, 19
Krakow, Poland 31-017
+48 12 422 5566

Ethnographic Museum

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Attraction

Quote:
The Ethnographical Museum, situated in the Old Town Hall of Kazimierz, is an interesting look at traditional life, folklore and customs in Poland especially during the 19th and 20th Century.The ground floor includes detailed reconstructions of peasant cottages with traditional furniture, painted ceilings and large stoves – behind which was often a sleeping place for the young or old of the house. Inside these are displays of traditional cooking implements and house wares, including bridal chests, and tools relating to traditional crafts such as a spinning and weaving. The rooms are colourful – incorporating a lot of flower motifs – and give a good impression of what it must have been like to l...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 21, 2007

Ethnographic Museum
Plac Wolnica, 1
Krakow, Poland 31-160
48 12 430 5563