Kraków is a city with a centuries old tradition. It witnessed many events that influenced the formation of our history and culture. Until 1795 it was the capital of Poland, and the coronation city. Wawel is the oldest part of the city, it was the site of the oldest fortified settlement, one of the tribal forts of the Vistulans.
Why is it worth visiting this city today?
The city's long history means that you can find real jewels here. The Main Square is a good place to begin sightseeing. Historical monuments, which you just cannot afford to miss, are centred around it: St. Mary's Church, Sukiennice, Town Hall Tower, Church of St. Adalbert and the historic town houses. The two different St. Mary's Church towers are impossible to miss. And there is yet another jewel inside the church: an altar made by Veit Stoss. Two articulated wings of the altar depict the life of Christ. The altar, now more than a thousand years old, was carved out of oak wood.
Sukiennice is the former city shopping centre. To this day there are stalls with handicrafts, jewellery or simply souvenirs here. Above Sukiennice there are painting and sculpture exhibitions. Wawel would be a good destination after the Main Square. Here the Royal Castle, towering over the city on account of its location – Wawel Hill on the left bank of Wisła River, is most important. According to legend, in the past a dragon lived in a cave under the castle.
The Wawel Cathedral is Kraków, if not Poland's, most important church. Kings were buried in its crypts. Some outstanding Poles were also laid to rest there, such as Adam Mickiewicz or Juliusz Słowacki. Your tour of Kraków should also include a visit to Kazimierz, Kraków's cultural soul. It is centred around Plac Nowy [New Square], also known as Plac Żydowski [Jewish Square]. The famous Church at Skałka is here alongside Stara, Izaak, Kupa, Remuh and Tempel synagogues. It is impossible to miss the Barbican, the city's former northernmost fortification. Until the end of the 18th century, the Barbican had never fallen to an enemy. Today it is home to the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków.
Talking about museums, the one established by the wife of prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski is certainly worth a visit. The famous Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo Da Vinci is kept here. The National Stary Theatre and the Rakowicki Cemetery are also worth visiting. Famous actors such as Helena Modrzejewska, Ludwik Solski and Gustaw Holoubek performed on its stage. The graves of Jan Matejko, the Kossak family, Helena Modrzejewska or Piotr Skrzynecki, creator of Piwnica pod Baranami [The Cellar under the Rams] are all at the Rakowicki Cemetery.