The 10 Best Things to See in Krakow


Krakow: A Window into the Eastern European Past

Visiting Krakow was not the first time that I had visited Poland. In February, I was lucky enough to Warsaw. But for some reason, visiting Krakow felt like I was visiting Poland for the first time. The difference between the two cities is amazing. While Warsaw was heavily destroyed during the war, Krakow was not, allowing it to preserve many of its original monuments. So I felt like I was able to catch a glimpse of what Poland used to be like. And I got the feeling that it has a beautiful history.

The Barbican Gate
10. Salt Mines: a little ways outside the city you can visit the old salt mines. Inside these mines, small churches and shrines were built, offering a unique experience. With Mary and some saints carved into the walls or built out of the materials found underground, this has to be one of the most unique areas of worship in Poland.

9. Church of St. Peter and St. Paul: a simply beautiful outside is intriguing, but what makes this church so beautiful is its use of white and gold. Inside is a calm white with blasts of gold sculptures and paintings, giving you this calming yet energetic vibe. The church hosts many concerts and is a place to go for music.

8. Kazimierz: this was the old Jewish part of town, once a place where Christians and Jews were able to peacefully live next to each other. This part of town is different than the rest of the city, mostly because to the difference in religion. Instead of churches every block, its synagogues.

Oskar Schindler's Factory
7. Franciscan Church: this church dedicated to St. Francis was the home of Pope John Paul II when he was archbishop in Krakow. It was destroyed in the early 1900s and was rebuilt with a very art deco style, so the walls are all painted with intricate designs. It is a very interesting church to visit because of its very unique style.

6. Barbican and City Walls: the walls surrounding the old town really make you feel like you are still in medieval times. Walking through the Barbican, the main entrance through the walls, is like walking through a portal into the past. Of course Krakow is a modern town, but it seemed to have preserved and built around the old.

St. Mary's Basilica
5. Main Market Square: the main square is probably the most lively of the city. Its beautiful views of St. Mary's Basilica and the Cloth Hall are worth admiring. But its also a great place for a meal or maybe some entertainment. We even saw some Polish breakdancers.

4. Oskar Schindler's Factory: outside the center of Krakow, but still a walkable distance, is the original factory of Oskar Schindler. Today it is a museum on Krakow under Nazi rule, well done I may add. But you can still visit his old office which still has the original desk, map, and even flooring.

3. St. Mary's Basilica: on the main square, St. Mary's towers over everything. Inside is a beautiful mixture of calm blues and golds, along with the heavily detailed sculptures. Poland really knows how to do churches.

2. Wawel Cathedral: up a walled hill with a castle and an art museum stands a beautiful cathedral. And while Wawel hill gives you a great view of the city, the sights inside the church are even more beautiful with its sculptures, paintings, and golds. It is worth the climb up the hill.

Wawel Cathedral
1. Auschwitz: ok so not exactly in central Krakow, but its not like its a huge trek either. If you're in Krakow, this is an absolute must. The memorial center/museum is very well done, and while it may not be the happiest of things to do, its something that must be done. Its a way to never forget.

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