Strap yourself in and get ready for Krakow’s most touristy area. This stretch of road is where all the royals would make their way through the old town to the former royal residence at Wawel castle. It now weaves its way past a large chunk of the best things to do in Krakow including;
The Kraków Barbacan and St. Florian’s Gate
These are two of the last remaining sections of Krakow’s defensive setup. They have been around since the 13th century and it was the main entrance to the city for many, many years. When the city was expanding and they were getting rid of the old walls they kept this section to stop the wind blowing up the skirts of young ladies going to church. Nowadays there aren’t so many knights or Mongolians attacking the walls; instead, it’s home to buskers and droves of tourists.
Saint Mary’s Basilica
Saint Mary’s church seems the same as most other churches except there’s the world’s biggest Gothic carved altarpiece inside. It was carved in the 14th century from wood and stands 13 m high and 11 m wide. If you want to check it out, enter from the side to “pray” and it’s free – otherwise it’s 10 ZL.
The part we liked the most, though, was the guy who plays the trumpet every hour from the top of the spire. If you listen carefully you’ll notice he stops mid note quite abruptly. This is a tribute to a trumpeter who was shot in the throat as he warned of a Mongol attack on the city.
Europe’s biggest square: Rynek Glowny!
At 200 m by 200 m, this square is huge and the beating heart of Krakow’s tourism industry. Lined with overpriced restaurants it’s a great place to people watch. At night it felt like we were back in Morocco at Jama el Fna with all the lights and sounds. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must when you’re in Krakow.
Cloth Hall; this huge building in the centre of Rynek Glowny is the former hub of international trade between the East and the West. Housing silk, spices, wax, salt and other odd trinkets it was the place to buy your goods.
Nowadays, it’s more of a cheap souvenir hub. Upstairs is one of Krakow’s best galleries housing tons of Polish artwork and historical artefacts. It’s free on Sundays.
Rynek underground; a new and cool museum that showcases “the footsteps of Krakow’s European identity”. Sounds a bit lame, but there are holograms! As you wind your way through a labyrinth of tunnels and halls these holograms tell you about a time that was.