Krakow is called the jewel in the Polish crown. The beautiful historic city is located in the south of Poland, on the banks of the river Wisla, the queen of the Polish rivers. Krakow's inner city, once the country's capital, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. Every year the city receives countless visitors from all over the world. Krakow is rich in historical monuments: the main Market Square, the Royal Road, the Gothic-style Barbakan, the Wawel Royal Castle, the Kazimierz district and much, much more.
If you want to get a really good picture of the city, and want to soak up the unique atmosphere, a visit of one day is not enough. The special aura of Krakow has inspired artists and writers, and visitors are also captivated by it. So it makes sense that many of them return to relive Krakow. The rich cultural life still contributes to the appearance of the city, as does the cozy character of the streets and small squares with restaurants, where local delicacies are served.
The heart of Krakow is Rynek Główny (Main Market) with Rynek Mały (Small Market) close by. Rynek Główny is one of the largest and most beautiful market squares in Europe. The square was designed in the 13th century and measures approximately two hundred by two hundred meters. Three streets join the market on each side. Each of these streets led to the city wall, every second of which led to a city gate. Most streets in the center are parallel to the streets that leave the market and are always laid out at approximately the same distance from each other, so that the spaces between the streets are almost square. The few deviations from this pattern are caused by the fact that some streets from before the design plan of the Rynek Główny had to be fitted into the plan.
Besides the story of the dragon at the bottom of the Wawel, there are more stories and traditional customs:
Hejnał. Every hour from the highest tower of St Mary's Church (Kosciół Mariacki) a trumpet player plays a melody that is suddenly interrupted. The 'hejnał' was the signal to open or close the city gates and was played every morning and evening. Legend has it that in the Middle Ages a tower keeper saw the Tatars coming from the north tower of the church. He wanted to warn his fellow townsmen and played his trumpet. His trumpet playing was suddenly cut short because he was hit by an arrow. Despite this, his vigilance allowed the city gates to be closed just in time and the Tartar attack averted. Since the 19th century, this broken 'hejnał' has been played every hour as a reminder of this event. Since 1927, the Polish radio has been playing this melody every day at 12 noon.
Lajkonik. Every year on the first Thursday after Corpus Christi (second Thursday after Pentecost) the 'Lajkonik' comes into town. The hero of the party, dressed as a Tatar, rides into the city on a wooden horse. He is accompanied by music. Some men wear a traditional Krakow costume that day. The procession starts at the monastery in Zwierzyniec and ends two to three hours later in front of the market hall on the 'Rynek'.
Nativity Scenes or Szopkas from Krakow. Every year, at the beginning of December, many families in Krakow compete with each other for their home-built nativity scene or 'szopka'. Those nativity scenes are displayed at the Kosciół Mariacki. In the nativity scenes they incorporate many elements of buildings from Krakow. You can often recognize the towers of St Mary's Church or the golden dome of the Wawel cathedral. And the dragon cave can often be seen in it too. After the judging, the most beautiful nativity scenes are displayed in the historical museum.
Krakow is a day trip and can be done from our B&B. Need more info? Send us your question.