‘Florence’, Krakow, Kazimierz and Podgórze – four cities, one trip! We present itinerary of Krakow tour through four districts which were four separate cities in the past! You can find there the most important Krakow monuments. Choosing this itinerary is an ideal solution for those who are in Krakow for the first time and would like to see as much as possible and feel the unique atmosphere of the city! But remember that you may find it difficult to realize the entire program of sightseeing in one day (of course it is possible but requires an incredible health condition), so expanding the trip for two days would be a good idea.
A trip to Krakow, that begins in Italy? ‘Florence’ is just an alternative name for Kleparz district, once a separate settlement located north of St. Florian’s Gate (the main gate of medieval Krakow). During the city founding at the Magdeburg Law by Casimir the Great in 1366 Kleparz was named ‘Florence’ because of its parish church dedicated to St. Florian and his relics within.
- St. Florian’s church – it is a beautiful temple with a dazzling Baroque interior (foundations were set up in the 12th century, but in following eras the church was rebuilt several times). It is also important for one particular reason – in front of St. Florian’s church professors of Krakow University and city authorities welcomed Polish kings entering the capital of Poland (and that is why here starts the Royal Route). Finally, Pope John Paul II worked at St. Florian’s church as a vicar.
- Jan Matejko Square and the Battle of Grunwald Monument – in the Middle Ages the square was main market of Kleparz. The Battle of Grunwald monument in the middle is an interesting witness of turbulent and complicated history of Poland. It was founded by famous composer and politician Ignacy Paderewski in 1910 to celebrate the 500 anniversary of the victory over the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald fields. Sadly the monument was destroyed during the Nazi Occupation and it was reconstructed in the era of Socialist Poland.
During this part of our Krakow sightseeing we will see the Old Town and Wawel Hill. A trip to Krakow without seeing both is simply pointless. The history of settlement in Krakow starts on the Wawel Hill which was the heart of local politics. In 1253 prince Bolesław Wstydliwy (Boleslaw the Chaste) granted Krakow a Magdeburg Law which was tied with setting a huge Main Square and a new arrangement of the streets (so called ‘checker’ scheme).
- Main Market Square – does not require to be presented. Its beauty, atmosphere and open urban space make a big impression. Here stands Cloth Hall, Town Hall Tower and magnificent houses and palaces (like: ‘pod Baranami’ Palace, Spiski Palace or Krzysztofory). Stalls, florists, street mimes and musicians – casual and charming Krakow folklore is still present.
- St. Mary’s Church – must see because of a huge number of masterpieces inside. Of course the most valuable is the altar of Veit Stoss (excellent German sculptor from Nuremberg). You should also pay attention to other spectacular items from different eras, for example ciborium designed by Jan Maria Padovano in the 16th century and ceiling frescos from the 19th century by Jan Matejko!
- Rynek (Main Market Square) underground permanent exhibition – Krakow sightseeing? Visiting underground museum is a great idea for the first tour around the city. The exhibition combines amazing archaeological discoveries and modern technological solutions. Exploring the oldest history of Krakow and everyday life of its inhabitants in the past completely changes the perspective of the city and its monuments.
- Wawel Hill – Our sightseeing programme includes the Cathedral with its fantastic royal tombs (see the medieval ones like the tombstone of Jagiello or amazing, expressive tombstone of Casimir’s by Veit Stoss!). We also encourage You to look inside the Sigismund Chapel which is a true wonder of Renaissance art. Descent into the crypts and the entrance to Bell Tower requires purchasing the tickets. Obligatory point is also a walk through the Renaissance Wawel Castle courtyard (this attraction is completely free!).
During Your Krakow sightseeing, You should visit Kazimierz – the city set up in the time of King Casimir the Great and named in his honor. From the late 15th century Kazimierz was also a place of Jewish settlement. Jewish community has created a unique part of the district with many astonishing monuments (synagogues, cemeteries). Today’s Kazimierz is known because of its fantastic atmosphere, cafes, pubs and restaurants offering fine cuisine from all over the world.
- Christian Kazimierz – both Christian and Jewish heritage of Kazimierz are worth exploring. There are 3 unusual churches – temple ‘On the Rock’ (Polish: ‘Skałka’) and Monastery of the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit (place of martyrdom of medieval Bishop St. Stanislaus) and the churches of St. Catherine and Corpus Christi (two great Gothic temples with dazzling equipment from different eras).
- Jewish quarter sightseeing is a great opportunity to see 7 synagogues built from the 15th to the 19th The Old Synagogue interior was arranged by the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow for a very interesting exhibition devoted to the rituals of Judaism. You should also see Remuh synagogue built in the 16th century and still open. At the nearby cemetery, which is one of the oldest in Europe, there is a grave of Rabbi Moses Isserles (famous, 16th-century sage and scholar). Finally, there is also an extraordinary Tempel synagogue built in the 19th century for the community of assimilated Jews, professing reformed version of Judaism.
Our Krakow tour ends in Podgórze, the youngest of the cities, which was erected after the Polish first partition (in the 2nd half of the 18th century some Polish lands were divided between neighbouring countries). Podgorze was founded at the initiative of the Austrian Empire authorities as a counterweight for Krakow (remaining on the Polish side of the border). If you want to visit Podgorze, go through Bernatka Footbridge (known as ‘Bridge of lovers’) intended for pedestrians and cyclists. The view of Vistula River is extremely picturesque.
- Podgorze Market Square – the charming and peaceful place, where you can rest in front of beautiful neo-Gothic church of St. Joseph. There is a range of rocky hills behind the church. There was a quarry in the Middle Ages. Currently, the limestone changed into Bednarski Park, one of the most picturesque in Krakow.
- Krakus Mound – probably an ancient barrow tomb or worship place, which still hides many secrets (the view of the city from its top is really great). From the Mound You can see ‘Liban’ Quarry – a labor camp for people imprisoned by the German authorities during the Nazi Occupation. You can see there some remains of scenery plan created for Schindler’s List. Nearby, there is also tiny church of St. Benedict built in the hillside in the 11th century!
- Plac Bohaterów Getta (‘Getto Heroes Square’) – a unique place of memory. The deportations of Jews to concentration camps after the Ghetto liquidation started right there. There is also famous Eagle Pharmacy, whose owner Józef Pankiewicz and his staff helped the residents of the closed Jewish district during the whole period of its existence. In Pharmacy you can see an interesting exhibition prepared by the Museum of the City of Krakow. More about daily life in the occupied Krakow you can learn in the near Oscar Schindler’s former factory ‘Emalia’ (visiting huge, narrative exhibition takes 3 hours).
Krakow tourist information & Krakow sightseeing with a guide
You can visit all places and objects mentioned above with our guides. We encourage You to see our Krakow in a nutshell route. Itineraries of guided tours include also museums, like Schindler’s Factory and Underground of the Main Market Square! On our website You will find any Krakow tourist information You need!