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Cracow Local Tours

Cracow without secrets
Cracow is one of the oldest cities in Poland and there is no doubt that it is an obligatory tourist attraction not only for Poles, but also for foreign friends. Visit Cracow, the city of kings and artists, which was the capital of Poland to the year 1795, and for many people is still unknown. But what makes this place and its atmosphere so special and incomparable to any other? Let’s start with its history.

The royal city
Cracow performed and important function already in Middle Ages, at that time the Vistulans’ country. From 990 the city belonged to the Piast dynasty and was especially significant for Poles. According to a legend from that period, the Romanesque Church of St. Michael the Archangel used to be a pagan temple. It was at the Wawel Cathedral where the Polish monarchs were crowned. This tradition was initiated by Władysław I the Elbow-high and continued for over 4 centuries. In Cracow you can visit the oldest university in Poland, the Jagiellonian University, which is also one of the oldest universities in the world, a place where Nicolaus Copernicus, Jan Kochanowski or Stanisław Lem studied. Even today the Jagiellonian University is very reputable and it is classified high in the ranking of higher learning. The Cracow tour cannot be complete without visiting the Wawel Hill, where you can see the already mentioned Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus and the Wawel Castle. The Castle was a residence of the kings of Poland, beginning from Casimir I the Restorer. The Cathedral holds the tombs of persons important to the country. In the Bards’ Crypt you can visit the tombs of the most outstanding Polish poets, Juliusz Słowacki, Adam Mickiewicz and also Cyprian Norwid. The last of them was unfortunately commemorated only with soil from a mass grave. The Royal Sigismund Bell waits for visitors in the Cathedral. The Bell, which is a peculiar symbol of the city, requires from 8 to 12 people to swing it. The entrance to the tower and to crypts requires a ticket.

Legends hidden in a wall and rock
Passing from the Cathedral to the Castle, we enter a museum, which transports us to the period of the Piast dynasty, literally and figuratively. There we can get pleasure of visiting royal chambers, representative rooms and private royal apartments. In these places lived not only monarchs, but from 1929 also presidents of the Republic of Poland. Visiting the chambers will be undoubtedly a feast for connaisseurs of art. Everybody will find there something interesting, although the diversity of styles may be overwhelming. You can see there renaissance, baroque and later classical interiors. Because of the long history of Cracow, there are many legends attached to the city. One of them is connected with the Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, popularly called Saint Marry’s Basilica or Saint Marry’s Church, located in the center of the Main Market Square. Entering the Basilica, you can admire a gothic Altar of the Dormition of the Mother of God, by Veit Stoss. It is the biggest retable in Europe and it presents Jesus’ mother, Mary, with Apostles. The wings of this pentaptych show the following scenes of Mary’s life: Annunciation, Christmas, Adoration of the Magi, Resurrection, Assumption and Descent of the Holy Spirit. The wings of the closed altar present twelve low reliefs. Every day, on every hour a bugle call is played from the tallest tower of the Basilica, in each of the four cardinal directions. The melody played by a trumpeter ends suddenly before completion. The legend has it that the trumpeter was shot in the throat while warning his brothers against the Tatars. Let’s come back to the Wawel Hill, which is also associated with tales. The Dragon’s Den is a limestone cave, which according to a legend was inhabited by the Wawel Dragon. The unusual creature was first mentioned by Wincenty Kadłubek. Successive versions of the legend were written down by Jan Długosz and Marcin Kromer. The last of them placed the dragon in the Den. The route through the cave has the length of 82 metres and it starts at the Wawel Castle. Unfortunately, two corridors of the cave are closed to visitors.

Art above all!
Visiting Cracow can, or maybe even should start from the Royal Road. As the name indicates, kings used to travel this route. Walking along the path, we will pass the oldest and the most beautiful churches in Cracow: St. Florian’s Church, the Church of St. Wojciech, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Wawel Cathedral and St. Marry’s Church. The Barbican, which opens the Road, used to protect the city against invading troops already from the end of the fifteenth century. The enthusiasts of fortifications will never get bored on a Cracow local tour. For the enthusiast of art, such as painting or numismatics, the city has many attractions. The place you must visit is not only the already mentioned Royal Castle, but also the National Museum with its branches and galleries. We will focus here on its Main Building, but the Jan Matejko Manor and the Chartoryski Museum are worth a mention too. The Chartoryski Museum holds one of the most valuable works of art in Polish collection, the Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci. In the Main Building of the National Museum visitors can see three exhibitions, which are open permanently: the Gallery Arms and Uniforms in Poland, the Gallery of Decorative Art and the Gallery of 20th century Polish Art. Apart from permanent exhibitions, you can see temporary ones. The first one is connected with militaria, the second one with works of pre-Roman and Roman art. The last exhibition seems to be the most interesting not only for artists and art connaisseurs, but above all for everybody who loves beauty. It is an obligatory exhibition of famous paintings by Olga Boznańska, (Breton Woman, Girl with Chrysanthemums), Witkacy, or the collection of stained glass windows by Stanisław Wyspiański. The great ending of the Cracow local tour will be a walk across the Kazimierz district, a place where two cultures, Christian and Jewish, coexisted and mixed with each other for many years. What resembles the history of this multicultural city are historic churches and synagogues, which are not very common in other places.

The city of the young
Now let’s pass to the Main Square or rather to its basements. An underground museum has been open for tourists for some time. The exhibition “Following the traces of European identity of Kraków” is a real feast for archeologists, excavations’ enthusiasts and for everybody who wants to learn the history of Cracow thoroughly. An accessible, multimedia form will certainly appeal to the younger generation. It is worth to visit Cracow especially in summer. During holidays in the city additional attractions are organized, such as music festivals (the Film Music Festival), culinary festivals (the Pierogi festival) or film festivals (Amateur Film Festival). After a day full of new impressions you should try Polish food in one of many restaurants. The tastiest and the most diverse restaurants are in the area of the Main Square, where you can eat and admire the Kraków Cloth Hall. During the day, especially the hot one in summer, it is worth to find some time for relax on the Vistula. You can also go on a cruise along the Vistula river, which is a perfect way to relax with friends at the weekend. August gives a great opportunity to visit Cracow because of the Kraków Live Festival, an event prepared especially for fans of good music and memorable entertainment. Maybe this year your favourite artists will perform there?
Adres:

Daniłowicza 10, 32-020 Wieliczka
Wieliczka Salt Mine, Polska

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