There is something eternally young about Krakow. The city literally dates back to the stone ages, and it wasn’t bombed during WWII (a little bit, very minor damage). It was rebuilt after the Mongol invasion razed it in the thirteenth century and has, for the most part, remained intact.
Thus, it is technically a very old city. But there is just something about it as you are wondering around, admiring its many historic styles of architecture, beautifully landscaped parks, and its eloquent and distinctive old town. It just feels young, vibrant, and thriving. Would that any of us could age as well as Krakow!
So many things to see and do in this great town. Just walking around, you will experience the beauty and art that is everywhere. Around almost every corner is a shady park with some music or dance festival underway.
St. Mary’s Basilica
As with most European cities, it also has some of the most beautiful, old churches.
One of the churches here is particularly famous. It is called St. Mary’s Basilica.
We went inside this one and it is chock full of amazing sculptures, paintings, and lots of gold.
On the south side of the old town, the Wawel Royal Castle presides over the city. We walked up to it and toured the gardens, but didn’t go inside.
And then, of course, there is the food! Polish sausage, pierogi dumplings, potato pancakes (and with pork goulash), yum yum yum!
We even tried some Polish craft beer. And as you can read, above, it was the BEST beer in the world!
Wieliczka Salt Mine
We took a tour bus out to see the Wieliczka salt mines. This is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in history. It began commercial mining in the thirteenth century. It halted production in 1996 because the price of salt fell too low to continue mining it.
It is 287 kilometres (178 mi) long! There are nine levels. We only went down to the third level, which put us 135m (442 ft) underneath the surface.
It was extremely interesting to see whole caves, walls, statues, and steps all carved directly out of the salt down there.
They even had a salt statue of Pope John Paul II (in case you didn’t know, he is from the Krakow area).
There is even a full chapel, made completely from salt.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp
We also visited the concentration camp. This is a very emotional topic and locale, so I won’t dwell on it, other than to say it is definitely worth seeing. It is important to remember our past in hopes that it will never be repeated. It is presented as a museum and was extremely well done and educational.
We also went by Schindler’s factory as part of a bicycle tour, but we didn’t go inside. The tour went by each of the places that were used in the movie.
We Love Krakow!
There is so much to see and do and love in Krakow. We had a really good time and would absolutely come back here.
And….we were so honored that they named a street after Jana!