‘We recently jetted off to Poland for quick city break; this time to the fabulous city of Krakow. These are my six must-see sights…’
This complex of buildings set around a central courtyard is one of the most important historical sites in Krakow and set on the banks of the Vistula River. The site was once home to the Head of State, and laterally, the German Governor, while Poland was under Nazi occupation.
These days, it’s a museum and art conservatory and also has a really sweet Cafe on-site. You can visit the Royal Castle museum, Wawel Cathedral, and its extensive collections and one-off exhibitions throughout the year.
Oskar Schindler’s Factory
The last time I visited Krakow, this museum was still in the process of being established, so there were rather fewer exhibits on display as now. A museum is now housed in the original enamel factory owned and run by Schindler. This is a tribute to the man and his legacy, but also a reminder of just how life was for Krakow’s Jewish population under 5 years of Nazi rule.
Given the history of Krakow, there is a lot to see here that relates to the Nazis and their treatment of the city’s Jewish population. The site of Tadeusz Pankiewicz’s pharmacy in the Podogrze is no exception.
Pankiewicz and his employees were permitted entry to the ghetto to run the business. However, behind the scenes and away from prying Nazi eyes, the team risked their lives to help the Jewish population to survive. They even assisted people to escape deportation to the death camps. The site is now a museum and documents the incredible risks taken by the Pharmacist and his staff in order to help their fellow Poles.
Dinner in Kazimierz
This area has been the heart of the Jewish Quarter in Krakow for hundreds of years. The traditions that were destroyed during the Holocaust have slowly returned and the areas now thrives again. The Jewish food here is fantastic and walking around the neighbourhood is a great way to spend an evening.
Try out Kolanko No 6 for authentic Polish crepes; Szalom for the best falafel in town or Kuchnia u Doroty for beetroot soup and home made stews.
Krakow Market Square at Night
No trip is complete without a visit to Krakow’s main square. Market Square is one of the oldest in Europe; dating back to the 1300s. Standing rather proudly in the middle is the iconic Cloth Hall. This is a massive Renaissance style market, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage.
The upper level of the hall serves as a museum, while the lower area still holds a plethora of market stalls. While this is a fantastic sight at any time of the day, when lit up at night; it’s truly breathtaking.
OK, so the Nazi death camp isn’t actually in Krakow; it’s 70k outside. However, transport to the camp is frequent and cheap. A tour is recommended on site because it really will help you gain an understanding of just what went on here. The stories you’ll hear from the guides aren’t things you’ll pick up on your own.
If you’re easily upset, this might not be for you. However, visiting to pay your respects to the thousands of people who lost their lives here is worth it. It’s a rather chilling expanse where everything is silent and no birds sing or flowers seem to grow. The horror of seeing train tracks that don’t go anywhere might be the most haunting thing I’ve ever seen.
Do you have any other must see sights in Krakow?