A historical and cultural gem in Poland’s crown, Krakow is an ideal destination if you’re looking for legendary castles, magnificent churches, bustling marketplaces and a fantastic nightlife. Visitors from all over the world enjoy city breaks in Krakow.
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One of the major attractions in Krakow is Royal Wawel Castle, a strong symbol for Polish national identity. The castle was first built in the 14th century by Casimir III the Great, and redeveloped during the Renaissance to become the heart of Polish culture. A fascinating place to visit, the castle is brimming with treasures and antiquities spread over five different museums. Another key remnant of Krakow’s fortified past, and also one of the most beautiful, is the Barbican. This impressive medieval bastion features seven turrets and is one of the city’s most memorable landmarks. Perhaps even more memorable is Kościuszko Mound, set in a suburb of the city. This monumental earthen mound is dedicated to a Polish hero, Tadeusz Kościuszko, who died in 1823. As well as the mound itself, there is an interesting museum detailing the life and struggles of Kościuszko. Close to the Barbican is Florian Gate, one of the remaining historical gates to the city, and a key landmark for visitors to Krakow.
To learn about the Jewish history of Krakow, head to the Galicia Jewish Museum, where you’ll find a touching and informative exhibition on the Jewish culture of the former Austro-Hungarian region of Galicia, and the victims of the Holocaust. Schindler’s Factory is another key location behind the history of Nazi-occupied Krakow. The museum is housed in Oskar Schindler’s enamel factory, where the Nazi industrialist famously saved Jewish workers. If you’re interesting in learning about the wider history of Poland, the National Museum has an extensive collection of artefacts and paintings. Also worth visiting for Jewish heritage is the 17th-century Izaak's Synagogue, the city’s largest synagogue.
Krakow is home to a variety of bustling marketplaces, selling everything from trinkets to Polish snacks. Plac Nowy is known as the Jewish market and you’ll find an enormous collection of different stalls here selling clothing, antiques and souvenirs. Hala Targowa is a fun market to explore where the line between trash and treasure is pretty thin. Here you’ll find everything from old books and postcards to jewellery and paintings. If you’d rather buy some fresh local produce, Stary Kleparz is a historical food market that dates back to the 12th century. Make sure you try some local specialities while you’re here, including obwarzanek, a type of bagel, and oscypek, a type of cheese that comes from the Tatra Mountains.