Situated on the Vistula River, Cracow is Poland’s richest city in terms of the number of its historic sights and monuments – at the same time it is one of the most beautiful and charming cities of Central Europe.
For more than 500 years, Cracow served as the country’s capital and as the royal residence; with a population approaching 800 thousand, the city today is Poland’s centre for the arts, tourism and culture. The historic centre of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and with its 6000 monuments and forty museums, it won the title of Cultural Capital of Europe in 2000. Several million tourists visit the untouched medieval city-centre every year.
The main Market Square of Cracow, the Rynek Glówny
Cracow’s most spectacular tourist attractions are the main square of the historic city centre (Rynek) and the monuments to be found there; the Mary (Mariacki) Church; the “Cloth Hall” (Sukiennice); and the tower of the town-hall, which rises above the main square.
The Renaissance style Royal Castle (Wawel), sited on a hill next to the Vistula River, is considered to be one of Europe’s most attractive royal residences. The protective walls of the city, with their bastions and gates, can still be admired today in their original Middle-Age splendour.
The Kazimierz district, in the eastern part of the city, has great historic and cultural importance, as it was formerly the Jewish Quarter; the Jewish Cultural Festival is held here every year in June and July.
The system of cellars located under the historic city centre serve today as café’s, bars, restaurants and display-rooms, endowing Cracow with its own special atmosphere.