Cracow as the second largest city in Poland, which is located in the Southern part of this country, for years has gained popularity and has become the biggest tourist spot in Poland. Some may say that it is an overstatement but believe me, when you come to Cracow in summer-time it’s as crowded as nowhere in Poland. What is so special about the city? What’s the story of this place and how do “the native Cracovians” feel about the city?
But let’s start with the numbers; as I mentioned earlier, Cracow is definitely the second biggest city in Poland both in terms of the area of the city and the population. Currently ( March 4th 2020) the area of the city equals 327 quadrat kilometres (which is just a bit more than the area of the Republic of Malta ) and according to data from 2018 no fewer than 770 000 people live here excluding students from 23 universities and “colleges” (Szkół Wyższych). The Mound of Józef Piłsudski is the highest point in Cracow ( 383 meters above the sea level). Considering the structure of the city we need to mention the division into 18 quarters. The first one is called Stare Miasto (the old part of the city) and the last one is Nowa Huta (a part of the city known for the socialistic architecture). What also is important is to know that the city is located along the Vistula River (Wisła) whose proximity is pointed out as one of the main reasons of locating the city in this area in the medieval ages.
The story of one of the oldest and the most beautiful Polish cities begins in 10 th century. The very first records about the settlement, which actually come from that time, depict a very rich castle –town surrounded by woods and located on the crossing of the trade – routes. However, the foundation of the town came in 1257 and at that time the characteristic chessboard-like layout of the city with a centrally placed Market Square was developed. Later on, through the centuries Cracow was one of the most important trade centres on the Polish grounds and from 1038 to 1611 was an official residence of Polish monarchs. From 1596 to 1795 it functioned as the capital of Poland.
Cracow has always been special, every year thousands of Poles and foreigners visit this beautiful city and as the statistics say (as the City Hall presents); in 2019 more than 14 mln people visited Cracow. Those numbers are quite impressive considering other Polish cities and tourist spots in Poland.
What do the visitors appreciate the most?
First of all, they underline that the city itself is very friendly and beautiful, that the appearance of all those townhouses on the Market Square is unique. Apart from them, Cracow offers a wide range of architecturally outstanding constructions that come from various periods and represent different architectural styles. To name just a few of them, a ghotic Barbakan (Barbican) on the north part of the Old City , a renaissance Sukiennice (The Cloth Hall) and a ghotic Kościół Maricki (St. Mary’s Church) in the middle of the Market Square. On the hill, near the Vistula River a Wawel Castle, built in Romanesque style overlook the city. No doubts that there are places to visit in Cracow and… in fact a whole bunch of them so for sure boredom doesn’t threaten any visitor.
Besides the old historic sites, the city’s most visited quarters are Kazimierz and Nowa Huta. A widely recognised Jewish district (Kazimierz) and a socialistic architecture of Nowa Huta show precisely how diversified the city is. It’s worth remembering that Cracow , unlike Warsaw, wasn’t destroyed during the WWII and due to that the city’s original shape and architecture including the oldest monuments have been preserved.
If you, dear reader, feel like founding out more about Kraków, Małopolska region and many more tourist destinations in Poland keep following our articles in which we will give you some ideas and recommendations for your visit in Southern Poland – visit in Kraków!!!
1. Biuletyn informacji publicznej Miasto Kraków; Retrieved from https://www.bip.krakow.pl/zalaczniki/dokumenty/n/258711/karta,
2. Kronika Krakowa, wyd. Kronika wydanie I, grudzień 1996
3. Niezwykłe Miasta Świata , Twoja Planeta , wyd. SBM wydanie 1 , 2015 Warszawa,