European Quartet One Melody

 
Krakow, European City of Culture, with a population of nearly one million, is the most frequently visited city in Poland. It is situated in Southern Poland on the banks of the Vistula River. Krakow is an important centre of science and learning and is home to the renowned Jagiellonian University (est. 1364), which is one of the oldest universities in Europe. A further 24 academic schools provide education for nearly 170,000 students. The old city centre has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is very rich in historical buildings and sites, exceptional architecture, and a great number of world class fine art pieces.
Krakow - the Remuh Synagogue / © A.Olej – K.Kobus/TRAVELPHOTO │Polish Tourist OrganisationKrakow - Wawel Cathedral - interior / © Fotopolska │Polish Tourist OrganisationThe Wawel Hill in Krakow / © Polish Tourist Organisation
Wieliczka salt mine - chapel / © Polish Tourist OrganisationFloriańska street and gate in Krakow / © Grzegorz Źak │Polish Tourist OrganisationKrakow museum / © Polish Tourist Organisation
Fireworks in Krakow / © A.Olej – K.Kobus/TRAVELPHOTO │Polish Tourist OrganisationKrakow / © A.Olej – K.Kobus/TRAVELPHOTO │Polish Tourist OrganisationKrakow - the Gothic Barbican / © Polish Tourist Organisation
Krakow - the Royal Castle / © A.Olej – K.Kobus/TRAVELPHOTO │Polish Tourist OrganisationKrakow - historical festival / © Janusz Leśniak │Polish Tourist OrganisationMarket square in Krakow / © Polish Tourist Organisation

The city’s rich cultural and artistic life contributes to the fascination as much as the genuine character of its streets and little squares, lined as they are with restaurants serving local delicacies. The choice of accommodation and gastronomic services is very large, which makes planning a trip to Krakow very straightforward. It is also a great base from which to visit the mountains in Southern Poland, and the mountain capital of Poland – Zakopane. It is also a great base from which to explore other interesting sites and cities, such as the Wieliczka Salt Mine, or Wroclaw.

The Main Market Square
Krakow’s Main Market Square is the largest medieval urban centre in Europe. The centrally positioned Cloth Hall, a construction from the turn of the 12th century, was originally designed for the cloth trade and greatly modified over the centuries. Overlooking the square from the east is St. Mary’s Church with its magnificent high altar carved by the Nuremberg sculptor, Veit Stoss, known in Poland as Wit Stwosz. Every hour, the hejnał or bugle call is played from the higher tower to commemorate the Tatar raids on the city during the 13th century. Its basement contains a very well preserved medieval torture dungeon, a theatre and a café. Many restaurants and cafés offer savoury meals in the splendid interiors.
 
The Royal Way
The Royal Way was followed in the old times by monarchs, deputies and other eminent guests. Today it is the traditional route followed by tourists and enthusiasts of old Krakow. It begins in the Matejko Square and leads through the Gothic Barbican and Florian Gate into the Main Market Square via the Floriańska Gate and down Floriańska Street, past the Renaissance facades and attics of the Market Square, along Grodzka Street and the Church of St. Peter and Paul. Following the medieval Kanonicza Street, you will eventually reach Wawel Hill. The Barbican is a masterpiece of medieval fortification art. It is one of three such structures preserved in Europe, but none of them can match its beauty, its perfect design and dimensions. The Florian Gate was part of a system of defensive walls circling Krakow. Trees were planted on the site of the former city walls, creating a beautiful park known as the Planty. The Royal Way continues along Grodzka Street passing a number of historical buildings and enters Kanonicza Street, the most picturesque street in Krakow, leading to Wawel Hill, the former residence of Polish kings.
 
The Royal Castle
On the Wawel Hill stands the Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral which has witnessed royal coronations and funerals. It was there that the most important decisions determining the country and its people were taken. The origins of this magnificent structure date back to the year 1000. Every visitor to Krakow should see the Renaissance cloister in the castle and the beautiful royal chambers, decorated with tapestries manufactured by Flemish masters. Wawel Cathedral is not only a splendid historical building but also a functioning church. It is the national pantheon containing the tombs of many Polish kings, national heroes and poets of the Romantic Period. The showpiece of the church interiors is the Renaissance Zygmunt Chapel.
 
Kazimierz – the Jewish District of Krakow
Kazimierz is a historical municipality on the outskirts of Krakow, and is today one of the city’s most up and coming districts. Kazimierz was home to a large part of the Jewish population of the city until 1939. Here you’ll find the famous Remuh Synagogue and the Alte Schule, Poland’s oldest synagogue. A visit should be made to the Temple founded by the local Association of Progressive Jews and the Wolf Popper synagogue. Kazimierz is an important site containing Jewish and also Christian historical monuments and cultural artifacts. The Jewish and Polish influence is present everywhere, showing how well the two cultures blended together. Every year in June and July, a world famous Festival of Jewish Culture is held in the Kazimierz district.
 
The Krakow Area
About a dozen kilometres south-east of the city centre is the town of Wieliczka, famous for its salt mine which has been in operation for about 700 years. Wieliczka has been recorded on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The highlight, however, is the underground museum and gallery, created partly by nature and partly by the very capable hands of the Wieliczka miners. A sanatorium has been established underground, where respiratory diseases, and rheumatic conditions are treated.
 
The area around Krakow has several other UNESCO World Heritage sites: the pilgrimage centre at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, the museum at the former German Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz - Birkenau and the 15th century Gothic wooden churches in Dębno, Binarowa, Lipnica Murowana and Sękowa. While in Krakow it is also worthwhile visiting places linked with Pope John Paul II, such as the town of Wadowice 40km from Krakow, where he was born and spent his youth. Zakopane, nestling at the foot of the Tatras, approximately 100km south of Krakow, is the country’s winter sports capital. The International Festival of Mountain Folklore in late August is the town’s leading cultural event. In winter Zakopane hosts such sports events as the FIS (Fédération Internationale de Ski) Championship, the New Year’s Run, the Continental Cup and the National Winter Sports Championships.
 
Culinary Specialities
Maczanka is very typical of the city`s cuisine. This is made from slices of pork stewed with onion and cumin, served with sauce in a special roll. Roast duck with mushrooms served with buckwheat is another popular speciality. Oscypek and bundz, the only two original Polish sheep cheeses, are made in the Podhale region near Krakow. Vanilla-flavoured cheese cake is also a delicious dessert. Two other tasty desserts served in cafés here are pishingier, a wafer cake with liquor chocolate layers, and the famous cream cake, a favourite of the late Pope. You can find obwarzanki or cracknels are often dusted with coarse salt or poppy or sesame seeds.
 

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Krakow - The Jewel in the Crown : Location

Poland GPS latitude/longitude: 50.07124 , 19.94018

 

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