A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Krakow is one of my favorite places on earth. It is a medieval city full of young people. A wonderful, striking combination.
– Jonathan Carroll
There a very few cities in the World with which you feel a connection with the first time you visit it. For me, the city of Krakow in South Poland is one such city. Krakow has a very interesting history and has managed to avoid destruction, this makes it one of the showpieces of Eastern Europe. The centre of the city was included in the first ever UNESCO World heritage list in the year 1978, which signifies the charm of the city.
There is something about this city which gives it a rustic charm and you feel a great pleasure in just getting to spend some time here. I only got about 9 hours to spend in this wonderful city, but it was special as I was with Ms. Monika, who patiently took me around and spoke the local language! Such a wonderful person!
Of course what makes a place special is the people who live there, and the warm and friendly people ensure that one has a great time. For me the best bits about this city would be the Florian gate, which is the only surviving one of the original gate ways which was built around 1300 A.D. This gate is also a essential focal point of the old town of Krakow. The royal road of Krakow also begins here.
Through the Florian gates one can reach the main market square of the city. Through these cobbled through fares one can observe the history of the city of Krakow. There are some fantastic cafes and museums which one can find in the vicinity of the main square. We were also able to witness the fabled trumpeter of Krakow who at everyday plays his trumpet at every hour from the top of a cathedral in the main market square.
From the market square one can take the Ulica Kanonicza, the cobbled street of 14th-century townhouses leading to the Wawel hill. Wawel hill which is a Jurassic limestone rock formed about 150 million years ago. You can get a stunning view of the river Vistula from the top of the hill. The river essentially divides the city into two parts. The Wawel hill also houses the Royal castle and the Wawel cathedral. This place is also of enormous significance since it was the old capital of for the Polish monarchy. The castle has also been described by many as one of the most beautiful castles in the whole of Europe.
From the castle the next place which we visited was Kazimierz, which is the old Jewish quarter. Kazimierz is also home to the Ulica Józefa, which is a fascinating street of antique shops and offbeat boutiques including, which features only Polish designers. This is the place which I found most fascinating perhaps due to the turbulent history of Krakow during the second World War. Kazimierz was the centre of Jewish life in Krakow for over 500 years. This is presently an energetic Bohemian neighbourhood which is home to several historical sites, cafes and galleries. Perhaps this place is so well known because it was captured beautifully by Steven Spielberg in his movie, Schindler’s list.
All in all a city which offers which offers so much to see should be on the itinerary of every person who loves to travel.