Snapshot – Krakow

It’s August 2016 and I’m only a week into my latest European trip when I find myself in the charming city of Krakow in Poland. Now, in fairness, Krakow was on my bucket list because of it’s proximity to Auschwitz (you can read about that visit here), but as I discovered, the old town has much to offer of it’s own to tempt travellers. 

Upon arriving in Krakow, my companions and I set off on a guided walk to get our bearings. From memory we walked for about 2-3 hours but that was typical of our little orientation walks at each new city, and we would be in Krakow for 3 nights so navigation would be handy 🙂 We were staying in a quaint guest house in the old part of the town called Globtroter Guest House, it was located on a small square full of restaurants and bars, and was only a few minutes walk to the centre of the Old Town. Our walk took as through the cobbled streets, passed churches and old buildings, towers and gateways – it really is a beautiful area to walk around. We walked through the main square and the markets, and up the steep passageway to Wawel Castle. Built in the 14th century, the castle has some of the most amazing architecture and the variety of roof lines was definitely eye-catching.

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Wandering towards Old Town Square
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Old Town Square
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The roof tops of Wawel Castle
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Wawel Castle grounds
Our first full day in Krakow was actually spent out of Krakow, at Auschwitz. But our second full day gave us plenty of time to explore. And it was also my birthday! We started off the day with the best breakfast at a little restaurant in the old town square called Europejska. From there, we headed out to explore the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz. This was home to a vibrant Jewish community up until the Nazis moved to town and deported them to a ghetto across the river, before ultimately exterminating them during the Holocaust. Walking through the area, we ultimately ended up at Oscar Schindler’s factory … I’m sure many of you have seen the movie Schindler’s List, so you’ll know what I’m referring to. The factory is now a museum, and well worth a visit. Our visit was a little special as one of the ladies on my trip was a descendant of two of the Jews who were saved by Oscar Schindler. She even found photographs of them among the museum’s displays. After a quick lunch, we hopped on a tram and headed back … or so we thought. Busy chatting away, we missed all the stops and ended up at the rail terminus. End of the line! Unfortunately, we had some difficulty finding out how to get back as nobody at the ticket office nor any of the tram drivers spoke English … much sign language was employed before we opted for pot luck and just jumped on the next available service. Lucky for us some English speaking tourists were onboard and headed in our direction. Ah, the joys of getting lost in a foreign city!

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Old Town square
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Outside Schindler’s factory
Upon returning to the town square, we decided to book some mini buses to take us out to the Wieliczka Salt Mines. These mines were opened in the 13th century and functioned right up until the early 2000’s. But the real draw card is what’s in the mine …. you see, these mines are known for the carvings done by the miners. And I’m not talking little etchings in the wall. Nope. Life sized sculptures of people, ornate tunnel doorways, and the chapel. Yep – an enormous underground chapel, carved entirely our of salt … the walls adorned with religious carvings of scenes such as the Last Supper. Our last evening was spent celebrating my birthday – a lovely group dinner, followed by a trip to the shot bar across from our guest house, followed by an unexpected visit to the nightclub under our guest house … all in all, one of the best birthdays ever. But as for the details … as they say, what happens on tour stays on tour!

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Is it just me, or does this look like it should be in Tolkien’s mines of Moria?
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The St Kinga’s Chapel in Wieliczka Salt Mines (built 1896)
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The Last Supper engraved into the salt walls of the chapel
This post is part of my contribution to the April 2017 A-Z Challenge

For a list and links to my other challenge posts, please click here

For those interested in revisiting my 2016 challenge post for “K”, here’s the link: Snapshot – Kakadu

2017 Badge

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19 thoughts on “Snapshot – Krakow”

  1. I love Krakow – we visited a few years ago and loved the trip down memory lane through your photos. The chapel in the salt mines is so awe inspiring and so beautiful, with all the iconic images carved out of salt. Glad you enjoyed your visit.

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  2. You have finally picked somewhere else I’ve visited! I loved Krakow when I went too. And I remember those salt mines. As for visiting Auschwitz, I too did that – one of the most moving and solemn visits I have done. I shall check out your post on that when I have a moment.

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    1. Haha! I got the impression from one of your earlier comments that we’ve probably been to some similar places. I did most of Western Europe when I was about 18 or 19, I recall you saying you did those countries too. It’s such a long time ago now though!
      Auschwitz was definitely a solemn visit but I’m so glad I visited. Thanks for reading, Louise. Have a great Easter weekend 🐣

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  3. One of my friends visited Krakow during a trip to Poland. She loved it. I’m not sure how much touring she was able to do because she was in town for a wedding but she had a blast. Those carvings in the salt mine are really interesting. The Schindler Factory Museum must have been so interesting. I’d like to see that. Great snapshot.WeekendsInMaine

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    1. Thanks so much! I seem to be encountering more and more people who have visited Kraków and so far, nobody has had a bad word to say about it. The Schindler museum was definitely interesting. I was watching the movie only a couple of nights ago and it was so bizarre seeing the places I had visited on film.

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    1. Kraków is just as picturesque & lively by night. As for how it feels being near Auschwitz, it doesn’t really impact at all on your experience within Kraków. Auschwitz is about 90 minutes drive away so the horrors of that place aren’t really felt during your time in Kraków.

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