Cracow Tourist Attractions

Cracow Highlights

Royal Wawel Castle

It is the old residence of Polish kings situated in the hart of Cracow at Wawel Hill which is a Jurassic limestone rock rising at the left bank of the Vistula (Wisła) river. During the first Polish kings raigns from Piast dynasty Wawel was one of the first royal abodes. In 14th century when Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (Władysław Łokietek) was crowned and moved to Wawel the new Royal headquarters was established. The golden age of Wawel castle was during the Jagiellon rule, especially during rains of such kings as Sigismund III the Old (Zygmunt III Stary) and Sigismund Augustus (Zygmunt Agust) who were fascinated by Reneisance movement in Europe and wanted to give their main abode really modern character.

Wawel Cathedral

It is the best well known royal necropolis and real national pantheon. Close to the kings in the cathedral many noble people were buried, such as Cracow bishops, and Polish national heroes. Here you will find among other the tumbs of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (Władysław Łokietek), Kazmir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki) and John III Sobieski (Jan III Sobieski).

Collegium Maius

It is the oldest Polish university and also one of the oldest universities in the word. It was established on the 12th of May in 1364. The golden age of Collegium Maius was in the 15th and 16th century. A great number of Polish best well known scholars studied and taught at this university, among others Nicolaus Copernicus and many western European professors. Having the Collegium, Cracow became even the important centre of alchemy sciences. Nowadays, Collegium Maius is famous for its arcaded galleries and crystal shaped ceilings.

The Main Market Square Underground

The exhibition presents the archeological excavations which were conducted in the years 2005-2010. The archeologists got as far as 5 meters below Cracow Main Market Square. Thanks to their work 11 000 exhibits were found. They are connected with door-to-door salt, lead and copper trade and ancient Cracow’s everyday life. All the exhibits with protected earth layers display the process of cultural layers earth formation. In the underground the viewers can also see remains of wooden cottages and burial mounds from 11th century. This archeological sanctuary is utterly unique space in whole Europe. The museum has the area of 4 000 square meters.

The Town Hall Tower

It is a gothic Tower from the 15th century situated at the Main Market Square in Kraków. It is 70 meters high. In the olden days it had gothic helmet and the clock at the top which gave the building its remarkable character. It used to belong to main administrative buildings of Cracow but now it is rather a touristic attraction with its mysterious architecture and unforgettable atmosphere.

The Cloth Hall

It is a grand market hall built in 13th century and successively extended in the next years. It is situated in the heart of the Main Square in Cracow. Apart from its commercial area on the ground floor, there is the department of the National Museum on the first floor. Currently, there are 4 galleries available for the visitors: Bacciarelli, Michałowski, Siemiradzki and Chełmoński parts. Visitors can also enter observation deck.

St. Mary’s Basilica

It is an archipesbyter’s church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, one of the biggest in Cracow just after the Wawel Cathedral. The very first church on this location was built, most probably, between 1221 and 1222. The church in its current shape was built in Gothic style mainly in 14th and 15th centuries. The façade of St. Mary’s Basilica, with two differently shaped towers, became an icon for the city.

Dragon’s Den

A solutional, limestone cave under the Wawel hill. It is one of the most famous of Cracow’s attractions connected with the 13th century legend of Wawel Dragon. The legend has it that the Dragon would live in the cave and trouble Cracow’s folk. In 1972 to commemorate the creature a sculpture Wawel Dragon by Bronisław Chromy was placed at cave’s entry. The cave itself is 270 metres long, however the visitors may tour only 81 metres.

Kościuszko Mound

One of 4 mounds in Cracow erected in memory of national heroes. This one commemorates Tadeusz Kościuszko. The construction began in September 1820 and all the works were finished 3 years later. The mound is 80 metres in diameter at the base, 8.5 metres at the top and it reaches 34.1 metres at the tip, which gives you outstanding view over Cracow. Next to the mound there is also a museum devoted to Tadeusz Kościuszko.

Old Synagogue

One of the oldest synagogues in Poland, built around 15th century. Until the World War II is was the central synagogue for the Cracow’s Kahal. Since 1958 is has been a division of National Museum in Cracow. Tourists may see objects of ceremonial art. The exhibition is divided into three themes: synagogue, celebrations and annual rites and private and family life.

Remuh Synagogue

It is the only active synagogue in Krakow. Jewish people from all around the world come to this place to pray over the grave of Rabi Moses Isserles, Remuh for short. The first temple was built in 1553 and it reached the current shape in 1829. Tourist might also visit synagogue’s cemetery, which was open until 1800. The cemetery is also one of the oldest in Poland.

Schindler’s Factory

Popularised by 1993 film “Schindler’s List” by Steven Spielberg picturing Oskar Schindler. Today, the factory is part of National Museum in Cracow. Tourists who come here from all around the world may see the exhibition “Cracow – times of occupation 1939-1945”. It tells the story of Polish, Jewish and German citizens in the occupied Cracow during World War II.

Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Łagiewniki

The sanctuary in located in Łagiewniki, one of Cracow’s districts. The cult of Divine Mercy is connected to Faustina Kowalska and her revelations. The sanctuary became a popular place for pilgrimages, especially after pope John Paul II beatified and canonized Faustina Kowalska, causing the spread of Divine Mercy devotion. Modern basilica of Divine Mercy, built between 1999 and 2002, is a two-storey building which can accommodate up to 5,000 pilgrims.

Manggha Museum

It is museum of Japanese arts and technology created in 1994 as a unit of National Museum to promote Japanese culture, arts and technology. Since its beginning the museum presented Japanese exhibits owned by National Museum. Since 2007 Manggha Centre has been acting as a separate unit which in time should become European Centre of the Far East. Manggha center is a unique place in Europe as it combines museum functions with active arts creation program.

National Museum

The Cracow’s department of National Museum is the oldest national museum department in Poland. It was created in 1879 and nowadays it is the biggest museum in Poland taking into account the number of buildings (17), units (11) and exhibits (800 000). The specialties of the museum iare Polish arts and culture. Every year the museum is visited by 600 000 guests. The main building of the museum at Aleja 3 Maja has 3 galleries “Weapons and Coulour in Poland”, artis and crafts; and Polish art in the 20th century.

Wieliczka

Wieliczka salt mine (13 km from Cracow) is an extender underground city and certainly one of the most interesting touristic objects In Poland. In 1987 it was put down to UNESCO World Heritage List. Every year the mine is visited by over a million tourists from all over the world. The main is no longer producing salt and since 1996 it has been only a touristic attraction. The mine has 9 levels, the deepest is at the depth of 327 m. One of the best well known chambers in Wieliczka is St. Kinga’s Chapel.

Auschwitz

It is a memorial and museum of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau which is situated in Oświęcim and Brzezinka about 65 km from Cracow. The museum covers two sections of concentration camp: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau. At the beginning the camp was supposed to be for Polish prisoners only but since spring 1942 it became the biggest Nazi concentration camp of Jews in Europe. During World War II 1.1 million people (also women and children) of various nationalities were murdered there.

Częstochowa

It is a city laying abort 125 km from Cracow which is the spiritual capital of Poland. The center of religious cult is Sanctuary of the Black Madonna the Queen of Poland at Jasna Góra (Bright Mountain). It is the place of annual pilgrimages, also walking ones, from the whole territory of Poland. Monastic complex of the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit has kept famous miraculous icon of the Black Madonna for ages. The image is famous for working miracles and healings and thanks to that it has become the object of cult among Polish Catholics.

Zakopane

It is a winter capital of Poland. The town is situated about 106 km from Cracow. The main road which leads to it is called ‘Zakopianka’. Apart from the possibility to practice winter sports and traversing picturesque walking trails of Tatra mountains, Zakopane delights tourists with a unique cultural character and mountain architecture. It is also a place where you can taste old Polish cuisine and try traditional sheep cheese called ‘oscypek’.

Dunajec rafting

Rafting starts in Sromowce Kąty which lays abort 120 km from Cracow. The cruises take place from 1st of April till 31st of October. The raft can lead to two destinations either Szczawnica (2.15h, 18km) or Krościenko (2.45h, 23 km). During the voyage tourists can observe picturesque landscapes of Pieniny National Park. Dunajec itself is a river which flows with quite swift rapid in wide stony channel.

Wadowice

It is a small town abort 50 km from Cracow. The main touristic magnet of Wadowice is the fact that pope John Paul II, the greatest of Poles, was born here. Pilgrims usually visit the Family Home of John Paul II’s Museum. The museum was opened in 2010 and after a complete modernization of the historic tenement it was reopened in 2014. The exhibition is fully modern and multimedia. Near the house of John Paul II, pilgrims usually visit Basilica of Offertory of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Wadowice main square.

Zebrzydowska Calvary

It is a pilgrimage destination situated about 32 km from Cracow. The Passion-Marian Sanctuary of St.Bernards convent was put down to World Heritage List UNESCO in 1999, being the only Calvary in the list. The beginnings of the construction of the Calvary date back to the year 1600. Right now the complex consists of basilica and monastery at the top of Żar mountain, 42 chapels and path churches. The monument was built in the architectural style of the late Baroque.

Tyniec

Formerly a village near Cracow, since 1973 has become one of Cracow’s districts. Tyniec is especially famous for the Benedictine Abbey established in this place as early as 1044, on the picturesque limestone hill by Vistula river. Currently tourists can see the abbey and museum which is placed there. Pilgrims also visit the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul which was constructed in Ghotic and Baroque style.

Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska

It is an amazing area for natural wall climbing fans and mountain stroll lovers. A real treat waits also for speleologists and castle enthusiasts. The most well known touristic attractions are Pieskowa Skała Castle, Ogrodzieniec Castle, natural rock formation of Hercules’ Club, Łokietek Cave and certainly Błędowska Desert.