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Krakow, Poland City Info
Destination Guide

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Europe > Poland

Wawal Castle
It will seem like no time once you wander the half-mile to Wawel hill and the royal castle sitting on top. Everyone goes to the castle during his or her visit in Krakow. And why shouldn't you? First traces of inhabitance on the hill date back to 50,000BC. In the 10th century Krakow already stood as an important base of power and became the capital shortly there after. Admission is free to the castle and cathedral. However, it is necessary to purchase a ticket for the museum, tombs, and the Lost Wawel exhibit. Everything is free on Sunday. Get there early.

Wawel Cathedral
Also known as St. Stanislas Cathedral, this eclectically styled building may not resemble a house of God from the outside, but its Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic interior suddenly strike visitors. The Cathedral houses many tombs of various Polish kings, queens, and heroes. Also inside are accesses to the royal tombs and Sigismund's Bell. Visitors who want more detailed information can purchase the guidebook (50¢). Pope John Paul II was ordained into the priesthood here in 1946.

Sigismund's Bell
Don't be afraid of the rickety wooden staircase. It's been there longer than you, and will remain for many generations. The bell is too large to ring on a regular basis. The last time was during the Pope's visit. The tower offers wonderful views of the old city and an interesting perspective of the suburb Nowa Huta. Touch the hammer of the bell for good luck. Open 9AM-3PM. Noon-3PM Sundays.

Royal Museum
Wander through the living quarters of the various kings and queens. The throne room is the grandest of these rooms. Be sure to look at the ceiling, which is covered with carved faces of the general public. Other rooms display furniture, paintings, and huge tapestries in various states of restoration. Keep your ears open, as often there are medieval-style bands playing though out the exhibit.

Treasury and Armory
The museum houses over 1000 artifacts that no self-respecting Renaissance man would leave at home. The exhibits include weapons, armor, and the spoils of various "explorations." Open Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday 9.30 - 3PM, Friday 9:30 - 4PM, Sun 10:00 - 3PM. Like many museums in Eastern Europe, the treasury and armory is closed Monday.

Lost Wawel
An exhibit exploring the unearthed ruins of the original structures on the hill. Begin with the models illustrating the development of Krakow, and end up taking the elevated walkway around the first church in Krakow, the 10th century Rotunda of the Virgin Mary. Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday 9:30 - 3PM, Fri 9:30 - 4PM, Sunday 10:00 - 3PM. Closed on Tuesdays.

The National Museum (Muzeum Narodowe )
Budynek Glówny (Main building)
1, 3-Maja Ave.
This large, uninspiring building houses the much more interesting Gallery of Decorative Art, The Gallery of 20th-Century Polish Art, and displays arms and uniforms in Poland.

The Historical Museum of the City of Cracow (Muzeum Historyczne m. Krakowa )
35 Rynek Gówny Sq.
Don't be fooled by the heavy remodeling in the entrance. Head down the long hallway and take the stairway on your left. This museum offers the best opportunity to understand the complex but fascinating history of the development of Krakow. A combination of original paintings, weapons, furniture, and detailed models make it so easy to understand that you won't even need the English translations.

The Museum of Polish Aviation (Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego)
al. Jana Pawa II 17
You won't find this museum in any guidebook. In fact, few of the natives even know of its existence. It's only a 15 minute tram ride from the center, but the complicated path to the entrance doesn't help, so be sure to check your map. The Museum houses hundreds of original aircraft, from pre-war (WWI!) observers to a field full of MIGs to a one-of-a-kind jet-powered cropduster. The museum is going under intense English translation, but if your really lucky, you'll get a personal tour by the museum director.

Jagiellonian University Museum
ul. Jagielloñska 15
This is one of the original buildings of the University founded by King Kazimierz in 1364. Nicolas Copernicus enrolled here in 1492 and, ironically, began his own studies of the Earth's rotation. The museum houses many of his astronomical devices and the World's oldest globe to depict the American continents. Open 11 to 5PM. Closed Sunday.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
ul. Danilowicza 10
(0-12)278-73-02 (0-12)278-73-66
Approximately 12 miles from the center of Krakow, this mine has been in continuous use for over 800 years. Tours through this UNESCO world heritage monument last 3 hours, allowing visitors to see the salt sculptures that miners have carved over the various years. The tour also includes a visit to the underground lake, the room used by the Germans during WWII to build aircraft, and the 600 seat capacity ballroom. Don't believe that EVERYTHING is made out of salt? Go ahead and lick.

Las Wolski (Zoo)
A short ride into the National forest instantly erases any evidence that you are in a major industrial area. The Zoo is a Krakow favorite on the weekend, but never too crowded. Admission is roughly one dollar. Expect to find the doors closed at sundown. Old Communist style bars and cages allow visitors to get REALLY close to the animals.


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