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Legends say that Kraków was founded after the defeat of a dragon and the dragon-slayer ascended the throne. There’s definitely a mythical atmosphere throughout the city nowadays.
While the Wawel Castle is a major tourist attraction, the Old Town is also quite amazing with its churches, impressive museums and the Rynek Główny, Europe’s largest market square. Kraków is a perfect blend of past and present and that’s very well reflected in the former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, where synagogues stand as a reminder of the tragedy of the 20th century, while the lively squares and streets reflect the renewal of the 21st.
Wawel Cathedral – A Walk Back in Time
This Roman Catholic church is over 900 years old. Interestingly enough, the Gothic cathedral we see today is the 3rd edifice on this site. The 1st one was erected by King Bolesław I Chrobry and destroyed in the 11th century and the 2nd one, built in the 12th century, was destroyed by a fire in 1305 when only the Crypt of St Leonard survived.
The Cathedral has seen many coronations, funerals and burials of Poland’s monarchs over the centuries.
The moment you’re in front of the edifice you’ll notice the massive iron door and the prehistoric animal bones hanging on a chain to the left. It is believed that these bones have magical powers and that, as long as they are there, the cathedral will also exist.
When inside, you’ll be amazed at seeing a multitude of sarcophagi, tombstones and altarpieces scattered throughout the cathedral and giving you the feeling of belonging to a different time.
The Museum of Pharmacy
This is the Jagiellonian University Medical School’s Museum of Pharmacy and it’s one of the largest and the best museums of its kind in Europe.
Hosted in a historic townhouse, the museum is laid out over 5 floors and features a 22,000-piece collection that includes old laboratory equipment, rare pharmaceutical instruments, jars, barrels,traditional herbal medicines, medical books and documents, etc. Its exhibits include full-scale reproductions of ancient apothecary shops. There is also an exhibit dedicated to Pole, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who operated a pharmacy in the Kraków Ghetto during WWII.
Oskar Schindler’s Factory
Former metal item factory Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory is hosting two museums: the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków and a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków where the fate of Schindler’s Jewish workforce features prominently. Approximately a sixth of the museum’s exhibition is dedicated to them.
The Historical Museum of the City of Kraków also features prewar Krakow, the German invasion of 1939, what the city was like as the capital of Poland under the Nazi occupation, what everyday living looked like, the underground Polish state, as well as the Soviet takeover of the city.
Oskar Schindler’s office has been very well preserved over all these years.
Hope to have convinced you that Kraków should definitely be on your list of travel destinations, especially if you’ve always been passionate about history, science and mythology.
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- ESMO 2018 – 1092 rooms in twenty-one 4-star hotels.