Probably the most beautiful and fascinating city in Poland. The attraction is not just the splendid architecture and the treasures of art – reminders of the times when Krakow was a royal capital city – but also the unique ambience of the former Jewish district and the masterpieces of Polish Art Nouveau. However old and beautiful it is, Krakow is not limited to its monuments and museums. Thanks to an amazing density and variety of bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants, Krakow sparkles with life. Anyway, there is no point in merely talking about its attractions – everyone should see Krakow with their own eyes.
Krakow, with a population of over 755,000 people, is Poland’s second largest city. Although it ceased to be a capital city in 1596, it still plays the role of cultural centre for Poland. Fortunately, it escaped World War II with no major fighting or bombing, and it remains almost unscathed even after fifty years of communist rule while concrete blocks of flats were built outside the city centre.
Krakow is situated in a valley formed by the Vistula River. In the Middle Ages it had many branches and some areas of the city were islands, including Wawel, Skalka and Kleparz. Nowadays the river flows along one main channel and the former islands are just part of the city. The oldest part of Krakow lies on the northern (left) bank of the river.
The first written record of Krakow was made by a Jewish merchant from Cordoba, who visited the already established city in 965. The legend is that the founder of the city was called Krak, and he ruled happily until a terrible dragon appeared and moved into the cave under the slopes of Wawel hill. The beast was eventually defeated by a clever cobbler, Szewczyk Dratewka. Today the figure of the dragon still stands in front of its cave, while a still visible mound commemorates the first ruler.