Visiting Kraków, Poland: Part 2
Kraków is a really special city – with a perfect combination of history, architecture, lively squares, and green spaces. This is the second post to the visiting Kraków “series” – I have quickly fallen in love with Kraków and with what this city has to offer, and I wanted to share that with you!
There is so much to see and do in Kraków, so I broke it up into two posts. Part 1 was more of an overview of the main sites to visit and here, in part 2 we will explore Kraków “through the backdoor”: the local haunts, lesser-known sites, and hidden gems! Again, for the main sites and the historical Kraków, check out part 1!
Now, let’s visit Kraków!
Basilica of St. Francis (Windows of Awe)
The Basilica of St. Francis is located in the historical centre, but with a somewhat nondescript exterior, it’s easy to miss. However, upon entering you’ll discover the Windows of Awe by Stanislaw Wyspianaski. The stained-glass windows depict Creation and are probably some of the most beautiful in the world. (There aren’t many great pictures of the windows – you’ll have to visit them and see for yourself!)
Photo by TWojtowicz via Creative Commons
Kazimierz is the Old Jewish Quarter in Kraków. This district is now “the” spot to be in the city. In Kazimierz, you will find Plac Nowy, a market square with street food vendors, surrounded by pubs and bars filled with young locals (uni students, young residents, etc.). Continue strolling Kazimierz and you will find plenty of boutiques selling artisanal, specialty and handmade goods. Also in Kazimierz, you can visit the Nowy Cemetery (Nowy Cmentarz Żydowski) and Synagogue.
South of Kazimierz, you will find the old Jewish Ghetto. This area is where Polish Jews lived during early Nazi occupation. The area is slowly changing and is undergoing renovations, but you can still see evidence of the district’s hard past. For some sightseeing in the district, you can visit Schindler’s factory, and the “Under the Eagle” Pharmacy (run by a Roman Catholic Pole during Nazi regime, the pharmacy was somewhat of a safe haven for Polish Jews). Another site is the Plac Bohaterów Getta – the square where Jewish victims were gathered and transported to various concentration camps during Nazi regime.
A bookshop like no other – Mossolit is like entering a bewitched wardrobe into Narnia (but a Narnia full of books). The main entrance opens to the café (that has some vegan treats) – then follow the sign to “more books this way”. The books are mostly in English (as the shop is owned by an American couple), but believe me; the shop feels “other” and magical.
District of Zwierzyniec
Zwierzyniec is one of Kraków’s prettiest districts (Mossolit Books is located here). The area is just below Wawel Hill, and is lined with beautiful buildings, quaint shops and cafés (and home to huge park, Krajobrazowy).
The Cellars of Kraków
All over Kraków, there are medieval cellars that have been transformed into modern pubs and bars. Check out this post by the Urban Travel Blog for 5 great cellars to visit (while enjoying a drink).
Photo by Kraków and Beyond
Stary Klepartz (Famer’s Market)
Located just outside of Planty Park, to the north of Planty Garden Ring and Barbican Gate you will find Stary Klepartz. An old farmer’s market, since the 12th century – you can find fresh produce, baked goods, candied fruit, spices, handicrafts and other goodies.