Travels

1. Wawel

The Hill

From the 11th century on Poland's monarchs took up their residence here in the Royal Castle. And they were both crowned and buried here, in the Wawel Cathedral where later on Polish national heroes have also been laid to rest since the 19th century. The place not only overflows with priceless art treasures, architectural beauties, relics of the past and curiosities.

Wawel Royal Castle

Home to three dynasties of Poland's monarchs. Its stately halls and exquisite chambers are filled with priceless art, best period furniture and rare ancient objects. The collection of the 16th-century monumental Flemish tapestries is matchless.

Wawel Cathedral

Poland's impressive national shrine shelters plenty of superb church art. Among its 18 chapels are true architectural masterpieces. The giant bell Zygmunt of 1520 ranks with the world's largest. Most Polish kings and their family members are buried in the cathedral, its chapels and crypts, together with the greatest national heroes, two poets, four saints and numerous bishops .

Dragon's Den

Huge natural cavity inside the Wawel Hill is the legendary home of a legendary monster.

There are all situated here:

2. Town Hall Tower

In fact, the 70-meter-tall Town Hall Tower at Krakows central Grand Square (Rynek Glowny) leans just 55 centimeters. Yet the reason is unusual in 1703 a strong wind has caused its tilt.

The massive Gothic tower had been built of stone and brick by the end of the 13th century. It got its first clock in 1524.

Several fires weakened Krakow's Town Hall Tower during the ensuing 150 years, so its west wall has been supported since 1680 by a mammoth buttress reaching up to the third floor.

In 1685 the Town Hall Tower was heightened for 6.5 meters. Its present baroque roof dates back to 1686.

The tower once adjoined Krakow's splendid 13th-century Gothic Town Hall that was pulled down in the 1820s.

Vast cellars under the Town Hall Tower used to contain the city dungeon with a torture chamber as well as a popular beerhouse. Now the tower's basements deep underground have been turned into a cafe and a theater.

Visitors ready to climb the tower up its 100-steps narrow and steep staircase can enjoy the panoramic view from the top. They may also see the exhibition of the City of Krakow Historical Museum pertaining to the history of the municipality.

Ground floor of the Town Hall Tower contains a tourist information office.

Two stone lions in front of the entrance were brought from a country house in Plawowice in the 1960s.


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3. Cloth Hall

The world's arguably oldest shopping mall has been in business in the middle of Krakow's central Grand Square (Rynek Glowny) for 700 years. Circa 1300 a roof was put over two rows of stalls to form the first Sukiennice building Cloth Hall where the textile trade used to go on. It was extended into an imposing Gothic structure 108 meter long and eight meter wide in the second half of the 14th century.


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4. Krakow's basilica of the Virgin Mary

The basilica of the Virgin Mary's (or Kosciol Mariacki) at Krakows central Grand Square has been traditionally the temple of choice of the citys burghers. It also seems to be the most famous of all Poland's churches.

The Gothic edifice of the present St. Mary's church replaced its Romanesque predecessor by the end of the 13th century. In 1365 a chancel was added and soon its splendid big stained-glass windows, of which three are still in place, were ready as well.

By the end of the 14th century the body of the church got its current form of a basilica. The taller (81 meters) of its two towers, with a fantastic Gothic spire of 1478 and a gold-plated crown of 1666, curiously belongs to the municipality and the Krakow signal is played from it every full hour. The lower tower (69 meters), with the 1592 Renaissance roof, accommodates five bells. Two of them date back to the late 14th century. In the Baroque front porch of the mid-18th century one finds two early-Gothic holy-water basins.


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