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09 thursday july 2020
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10 friday july 2020

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Town Hall Tower

A centrepiece of the Market Square, this is all that survives from the old Town Hall, most of which fell victim to modernization frenzy in 1820. The tower itself originated in the 1380s and was raised higher in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Its characteristic Baroque helm dates from the seventeenth century. The venerable looking stone lions that sit outside the entrance to the tower were installed, in fact, in the 1960s – the last significant restoration of the tower was in 1965. Beneath the tower, the cellars are equally impressive, with their huge medieval vaults. These now house a café and an atmospheric theatre - Scena pod Ratuszem - which is home to the People’s Theatre in Nowa Huta.

Like just about everything else in the vicinity, this building is steeped in history. A plaque set in the ground in front of the tower commemorates the day in 1794 that Kosciuszko swore to free Poland from its oppressors. And here in 1918 patriots piled up most of the cities’ Austrian eagles in a symbolic act of Polish independence. The tower is usually surrounded on two sides by outdoor cafes in the summer, and makes a nice vantage point from which to people-watch over a beer. For those who go for a little genuine local colour, the urine-redolent, formerly bum-frequented stone benches around the tower can provide occasional amusement, being as they are about the only places in the square where you can rest your weary legs without having to sump up any money.

Other attractions nearby

Market Square - Igor Mitoray's Giant Head sculpture

Igor Mitoray (b.1944) is a Polish-German sculptor who studied painting at the Krakow Academy of Art. He is best known for monumental, classically-derived anatomical pieces (often giant heads), many of which have been scattered across European cities and beyond as public art. He works in teracotta, bronze and marble.

Monuments and pigeons

As far as those monuments are concerned, we’re talking about the great Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) , St. Mary’s Church ( Mariacki) St. Adalbert’s Church and the statue of Adam Mickiewicz. And if allowing your children to wallow among flocks of winged vermin is your wont – hey, this is a free country! – there are always the pigeons.

Podgorze

Just acrross the river from Kazimierz lies the Podgorze district, another formerly separate town with a distinctive atmosphere now incorporated into the big city. There’s plenty to see here, and a lot of history, so it’s well worth a visit. It’s now getting the full galloping gentrification and regeneration treatment, being just over the bridge from Kazimierz, so its worth seeing now, before those processes play themselves out.

Piotr Skarga and his statues

The Place of St Mary Magdelene (plac sw. Marii Magdaleny), situated cosily between Kanonicza and Grodzka by the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. is a good place to rest up and take stock of things if you are circulating in the area – as you are likely to be at some stage. Here there are benches, a bizarre miniature water feature and a statue. It is the latter which has made this recently renovated little plaza, pleasant as it is, a site of cultural conflict and controversy.

Nowa Huta

Nowa Huta (‘New Steelworks’), about 10km from the centre of town, was planned as a purpose-built industrial suburb on confiscated church land. In this sense it was an attempt, started in 1949, to create a Renaissance-inspired, communist version of the ideal city, which would also have the benefit of parachuting an atheistic working class into the heart of historic, bourgeois Poland.

Sculpture of Piotr Skrzynecki outside Vis-à-vis

On your perambulations around the square, you are likely to notice a life-sized sculpture of a rather rakish looking elderly gentleman sitting outside a bar called Vis-a-Vis. You may also notice that every now and then he is joined at his table by visitors having their pictures taken with him or seasoned and vaguely dissolute looking characters toasting his health.

Krakow mounds

Dramatic mounds - or manmade hills – are a Krakowian speciality, and one of the things that gives the city its particular visual identity and atmosphere. The local liking of these is prehistoric in origin though are now four main examples. The Krakus Mound to the north and the Wanda Mound to the south commemorate legendary figures of the eighth century.

Parks, gardens and green spaces

Though Krakow is on the whole a dense and compact city, it’s not short of natural beauty and green spaces in which to relax (or, if you prefer, exert yourself). First and foremost is the Planty. This almost continuous strip of green, almost completely encircling the Old Town, ensures that entering or leaving the centre is always a minor event.

Bielany

Not far from the centre of town, in the southern part of the Las Wolski forest park, lies the Camaldulensian church of Bielany, its magnificent façade rising high above the Vistula on Srebna Gora (Silver Mountain). This is the centrepiece of an extensive array of monastery buildings established in the seventeenth century by Mikolaj Wolski, Crown Marshall of Poland.

The ''New Sukiennice'' project

Nobody needs telling by now that the cloth hall (Sukiennice) in the heart of the Market Square is an architectural and cultural beauty beyond prize. It was decided some years ago, however, that the history and beauty of the thing were not matched by its state of repair or technical facilities. And so, with help from the Norway Fund and the ‘financial mechanism’ of the EEA (European Economic Area) was born ‘project new Sukiennice’.

Town Hall Tower

A centrepiece of the Market Square, this is all that survives from the old Town Hall, most of which fell victim to modernization frenzy in 1820. The tower itself originated in the 1380s and was raised higher in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Its characteristic Baroque helm dates from the seventeenth century.

Collegium Maius

This quiet little spot is one of the jewels of Krakow, whether or not you’re an architecture buff is not to be missed. Built in 1492-7, this is one of the best preserved medieval university buildings in the whole of Europe and in its day a lively centre of Renaissance culture, with Copernicus himself being among its alumni. The exquisite, balconied courtyard has a cloister with star vaulting and carved columns and in the centre there is a Baroque well-head decorated with the arms of Poland, Krakow, Queen Jadwiga and King Wladyslaw Jagiello.

St. Florian's Gate & St. Florian

One of the most important architectural landmarks in the Old Town, and one of the most important Gothic towers anywhere in the country, St. Florian’s gate was once joined by a bridge to the Barbican as part of Krakow’s medieval fortification system. The original gate was built in stone before 1307, heightened in brick in the 15th century and acquired its Baroque roof around 1660 (estimates of the date vary).

Plac Mariacki

One of the most beautiful and magical little spots In the whole of Krakow, Plac Mariacki could not be more central yet still somehow manages to produce an atmosphere of unhurried calm. Essentially a courtyard, it has had its present appearance since 1802, when the Austrians closed down what had been the cemetery of St. Mary’s Parish

The Barbican

This bastion, built in 1498-9, is one of the most characteristic Krakowian sights, looking great since its recent renovation. A turreted ‘rondel’ with an inner courtyard, this is widely considered to be the most spectacular surviving example of its type in Central Europe.

Market Square

Entering Krakow’s superb Market Square is never less that a pleasure, and often an inspiration – even for Krakowians who do it daily. For the visitor, it’s pure gravy.

Contact

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info@krakowhomes.com

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Welcome to KrakowHomes - family enterprise set up with an intention of bringing new quality to the short term rental business. After many years of our presence in the market we can proudly say that we succeeded in creating our homes away from homes. Our intention has always been to combine professionalism but not at the expanse of home like atmosphere and we believe we made it. The choice of holiday rentals in Krakow is extensive. What makes us special is that our furnished apartments have been visited and recommended by BBC Good Homes magazine and National Geographic magazine. When saying luxurious we do refer to truly luxurious apartments which are located in or near Krakow Old Town and can be compared with elite Krakow hotels or with amazing boutique hotels only. Why? Because apart from amazing decor and comfort they offer such things as fountains, saunas, floor embedded Jacuzzi or Zen garden under glass floor. Our luxurious old town rentals in Krakow are just a part of coherent overall approach to serve the needs of most demanding travelers. We do not limit our service to providing accommodation but also select our tour operators diligently. As a result our trips & tours are provided by those who do it with passion. No wonder, the official Tour Guide of KrakowHomes is a person who became the official tour guide of Prince Charles while in Krakow. This all is designed to make your Krakow vacation a memorable event. Rent apartment in Krakow to enjoy your Krakow holiday.

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