The 34 best sights in Krakow – descriptions and photos

18 Krakow best sights

The 18 best sights of Krakow with photos, detailed descriptions and a map. What to see in Krakow: historical monuments, architecture, interesting places.

All the most interesting sights in Krakow are located in the old city. Here reflects almost a thousand years of history of the former capital of the Polish kingdom. Krakow’s historic center is a unique treasury of art, historic and sacral monuments, which represent almost all architectural styles – from the Middle Ages to modern times. Among the most famous attractions are the Wawel Hill with the Royal Castle (the national symbol of Poland), the medieval Main Market Square with the Gothic Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (one of the largest medieval market squares on the European continent), the Jagiellonian University (one of the oldest universities in Europe).

Krakow map with sights

This map of Krakow shows all the sights described in this guide.

Krakow Main Sights

A list of Krakow’s main sights with descriptions and photos.

Main Market

The Main Market is an ancient Krakow square. It was built in the middle of the 13th century and is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. The buildings along the perimeter of the square were built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The modern facades of the houses are in the classical style after numerous rebuilds of the buildings in the 18th and 19th centuries. The historic center of Krakow is closed to traffic (with the exception of public transport and cars of local residents), so it is pleasant to walk here. On the Main Market and its surroundings there are many sights – the Mariáts Church, the Cloth Hall, the Town Hall, the Jagiellonian University, and various monuments and sculptures.

Also pay attention to the monument to Adam Mickiewicz – the national poet of Poland. Behind the Cloth Hall in the corner of the Main Market lurks the Church of St. Wojciech, one of the oldest stone buildings in Krakow with a history of 1,000 years. The architecture of the church dates back to the beginning of Polish Romanesque architecture of the early Middle Ages.

Behind the Sukiennice there is a high tower. This Gothic tower is all that remains of the 15th century town hall. From the height of 70 meters there is a magnificent view of the Old Town. Nearby is a sculpture of Bound Eros, which symbolizes mad, blind love that makes one lose one’s head.

Panorama of the Main Market

Panorama of the Main Market

Mariack Church

The Marian Church or Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Krakow is the city’s main cathedral. architectural style – Gothic. St. Mary’s Church is the main architectural landmark of the Main Market and the most beautiful church in Krakow.

The first Romanesque church was here in 1221-1222. It was destroyed during the Mongol-Tatar invasions. In 1290-1300 an early Gothic church was built on this place. In the middle of the 14th century the modern presbytery was erected. At the end of the 14th century the church was rebuilt from a hall church into a basilica (the church acquired its present-day appearance).

Church of St. Mary in Krakow

Church of St. Mary in Krakow

In the first half of the 15th century the side chapels were completed. In the middle of the 15th century the church was damaged in an earthquake. At the end of the 15th century, the Mariánské Lázně Church acquired one of its main decorations – the sculptural masterpiece of Late Gothic – the Great Altar – a creation of Vitus Stvos.

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The facade of the church is decorated with two towers. The high tower (also called Heynalitza) has a height of 82 meters. It has the shape of a square, turning into an octagon closer to the top. The tower is covered by a Gothic helmet made by Matthias Heringkan in 1478. The low tower is 69 m high and is a church bell tower. It is square in shape and has a clearly marked separation into floors, emphasized by cornices and window openings. The tower houses the Renaissance Chapel of the Conversion of St. Paul.

Interior of the St. Mary's Church

Interior of the St. Mary’s Church

The interior of the church combines Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau styles. The presbytery is decorated with a stellar vault made by Master Cipser in 1442. The coats of arms of Poland, Krakow and of Bishop Ivo Odrovonzha – the founder of the first stone Marian parish church – are inscribed on the capstones. Sculptures of prophets Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Ezekiel, Jonah and Isaiah are placed in wall niches.

Cloth Row

Cloth Hall (Polish: Sukiennice) – a building in the market square in Krakow. Previously there were rows of shops. Cultural monument of the Małopolska province. It was in 1257 when king Boleslav V the Shy had a double row of cloth stalls built of stone in the middle of the market square.

Cloth Hall

Cloth Row

In the middle of XIV century king Casimir III the Great built a new building of cloth rows, which was in Gothic style. This building burned down in 1555.

At the beginning of the 15th century the cloth rows were rebuilt: the large hall of cloth rows was arched, the outer walls received a decorative attic with mascarons, loggias with columns appeared.

From the Main Market Square you can go to Wawel along Grodzka Street. It is an ancient Krakow street with beautiful architecture, whose history dates back to the 13th century. It was part of the Royal Road which was used by Polish kings on their way to Wawel.

Jagiellonian University

Jagiellonian University

Jagiellonian University

The Jagiellonian University is one of the oldest educational institutions, founded in 1354. Its oldest building is Collegium Maius, which is situated in the vicinity of the market square in Krakow’s Old Town. This red-brick building has beautiful Gothic architecture and a beautiful arcaded courtyard. Nicolaus Copernicus studied at the Jagiellonian University.

Wawel

Wawel (Polish: Wawel) is an architectural complex and the main attraction of Krakow. Located on a hill 228 meters high in the Stare Miasto area. It is associated with the foundation and development of the city.

Royal Castle on Wawel Hill

Royal Castle on Wawel Hill

For a long time it was the center of the whole Polish state. Polish kings were crowned here and they were buried here as well. The main attractions of Wawel are the Royal Castle and the Cathedral of St. Stanislaus and Wenceslas – a beautiful Gothic cathedral from the 14th century, where Polish Queen St. Jadwiga is buried. Cost to visit Wawel – adults – 20 PLN, children – 12 PLN.

The early medieval legends of Wawel Hill tell of a cave inhabited by a terrible dragon, his murderer Krak and his daughter Wanda, who threw herself into the Vistula River, not wanting to marry a German knight. This legend is reflected in the dragon sculpture at the foot of the hill on the river side.

The Wawel is closed: January 1, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, November 1, November 11, December 24 and December 25. From November 1 to March 31 all exhibitions are closed on Mondays.

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Saints Stanislav and Wenceslas Cathedral

Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslas Cathedral

Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslas Cathedral is a cathedral on Wawel Hill. The Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral. Previously in its place there were two other temples. The first one, St. Wenceslas Church, was built in 1020 and destroyed by the Czech prince Brzhetislaw in 1038. In 1142 there was a three-aisled church of bishop and Holy Great Martyr Stanislav Szczepanowski, which was destroyed in 1305. Later Bishop Nanker began to build a third, already Gothic, temple.

Over the centuries, the church of Sts. Stanislaus and Wenceslas was repeatedly rebuilt. In 1399 the Polish Queen St. Jadwiga was buried there.

Florian Gate

The Florian Gate (Brama Floriańska w Krakowie) is a medieval gate with a tower located in the Old Town. They are the remains of the ancient city walls. Florian Gate is mentioned since 1307. From them began the royal road to Wawel. Tower of the gate 34.5 m high. Inside the gate there is a Classicist altar of the early 19th century.

Florian Gate in Krakow

Florian Gate in Cracow

Kazimierz

Kazimierz is a Jewish district just south of Krakow’s Old Town. It’s a place with a rich history and bohemian charm, cute cafes and beer gardens. Jews began settling in Kazimierz as early as the 14th century. It was once considered a separate town, but later became part of Krakow.

Kazimierz

Kazimierz

In the center of Kazimierz there is a magnificent brick Gothic basilica (Bazylika Bożego Ciała), founded in the 14th century by King Casimir the Great. The basilica was built in stages from 1340 until the mid-15th century. It was designed as a monastery church, which explains the large plot of land and the presence of a cemetery nearby. The church has a beautiful interior, representing a mixture of Gothic and Baroque.

Perhaps the most famous landmark of Kazimierz is the enamel factory of Schindler, a German industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Jews during World War II. This story became widely known thanks to the famous film “Schindler’s List” by Steven Spielberg.

Old Synagogue

Old Synagogue

The Old Synagogue is the oldest preserved Jewish religious building in Poland and a valuable monument of Jewish architecture. It was built in the 15th century and was reconstructed in 1570. During World War II, the synagogue was destroyed and looted by German troops. This historical monument was restored in the post-war years.

Other sights and interesting places

St. Francis Basilica

St. Francis Basilica

Not far from the market square is the medieval basilica of St. Francis. It is a small Gothic church built in the 13th century. It is notable for its exquisite architecture and refined Art Nouveau interior. In addition to colorful walls with gorgeous floral and geometric patterns, the church also has many beautiful stained glass windows.

Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul

Church of St. Peter and Paul

The Church of St. Peter and Paul is one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Krakow. It was built in the 16th century and is famous for its magnificent 18th-century Baroque sculptures. Inside it is dominated by Italian Renaissance paintings with stucco decorations by Giovanni Battista Falconi depicting scenes from the lives of the eponymous apostles. The splendid baroque altar also attracts attention.

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Holy Trinity Basilica

Basilica of the Holy Trinity

The Basilica of the Holy Trinity is a medieval Gothic brick church founded in the 13th century and owned by the Dominicans.

St. Andrew Church

Church of St. Andrew

The Church of St. Andrew, located on Grodzka Street, is one of the oldest buildings in Krakow and one of the best-preserved Romanesque churches in Poland. It is the only religious building in the city that survived the attack of the Tatar-Mongols in 1241. The church was built in the 11th century in the Romanesque style, has a baroque interior and features of a fortification structure, which indicates its defensive functions.

St. Joseph's Church in Krakow

St. Joseph’s Church in Krakow

St. Joseph’s Church is a late Baroque Bernardine church, built in the 17th century, located on the outskirts of Grodska Street.

Just beyond the Florian Gate is the Gallantry Tower, built in the 15th century.

Baszta Pasamoników

Galantecki Tower

Barbakan (Polish: Barbakan) is a historical and architectural monument. Previously it was the northernmost part of the ancient city walls. The Krakow Barbakan was erected in 1498-1499 during the reign of Polish King Jan I Olbracht. Originally the Barbican protected the Florian Gate and was connected to it by a bridge crossing. The Barbican had two gates which were connected by a drawbridge placed over a moat filled with water.

Krakow Barbican

Krakow Barbican

Nowadays the Barbican is used for displaying expositions of various museum exhibitions, sports events, and historical reconstructions.

Church of St. Florian

The Church of St. Florian

The Church of St. Florian is a historic cathedral church built between 1185 – 1216 and is located in front of the Barbican (at the beginning of the Royal Route). It is one of the oldest Romanesque churches in Krakow and has been damaged by fires several times during its centuries-long history. The current Baroque appearance of the church is the result of an extensive reconstruction carried out in the 17th century.

St. Bernardino Church

Church of San Bernardino

The Church of St. Bernardino is a 17th-century Baroque Catholic church located at the foot of Wawel Hill. This building was built on the site of a medieval Gothic church that was destroyed by the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War.

Krakow sights

Vistula River Jagiellonian University Maryack Church Town Hall Tower Old Theater Wawel Castle

This website contains a collection of Krakow sights – photos, descriptions, and traveler’s tips. The list is based on popular guidebooks and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you can find answers to questions: what to see in Krakow, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places in Krakow.

Vistula River

Vistula River (photo)

The Vistula is Poland’s longest and most full-flowing river, flowing through most of the country’s major cities. The river is very beautiful, and also of great economic importance.

Vistula has a length of over a thousand kilometers, and the total area of its basin is almost 200 thousand square kilometers. The river crosses Poland from south to north, originating at Baranja Mountain and flows into the Baltic Sea. On the Vistula are such major cities as Krakow, Warsaw, Plock and Gdansk.

The speed of flow of the Vistula is about 5 kilometers per hour, and the depth varies greatly from the mouth to the source.

The river is also home to Poland’s largest hydroelectric power plant, the Wroclaweck Hydroelectric Power Plant. In general, the Vistula ranks prominently among the major European rivers, and is also among the significant natural resources of Poland.

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Coordinates : 50.05295100,19.97383100

Jagiellonian University

Jagiellonian University (photo)

Founded on May 12, 1364 by Casimir III, the Jagiellonian University is still one of the oldest in Europe and the largest institution of higher education in Poland.

Today the University has 15 faculties that train in 46 fields of study.

Since the university is centuries old it has seen many students who went on to become prominent figures. Among them are Pope John Paul II, King of Poland Jan III Sobieski and many others.

But the Jagiellonian University is famous not only for the quality of education, but also for its stunning architecture. After its restructuring, the university building has got its current red-brick Gothic façade, steep roofs, and closed toothed gables. After walking through the courtyard, the visitor reaches the museum halls, amazing in their richness and decoration.

Coordinates: 50.06120000,19.93318500

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Mariack Church

The Mariack Church (photo)

The main sanctuary of Krakow is the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church was built in the 13th century in the Gothic style. In the 18th century, the interior of the church was rebuilt in Baroque style.

Every hour on the high signal tower a trumpeter plays an old melody that has become the call-sign of Polish radio. The melody is played to all sides of the world in turn. This tradition dates back to the 15th century, when the trumpeter warned the city, at the cost of his life, of an approaching enemy.

In 2001, after a long break, the tower was opened to the public.

The church has two entrances and two parts: the rear part with the entrance through the square is intended for prayers, and on the right side there is a paid entrance for those who want to admire the old architecture and decorations. Of particular interest is the three-winged altar of St. Mary’s Church. Its height is more than 12 meters and width is about 11 meters. This altar is the most significant piece of wooden sculpture in Poland in late Gothic style. Behind the altar there are ancient stained glass windows and the walls of the church are painted by famous Venetian artists.

In the evenings, there are free organ music concerts.

Coordinates: 50.06198800,19.93949900

In photo mode you can view the sights in Krakow by photo only.

Planty

Krakow’s Planty is a park ring surrounding the Old Town (Stare Miasto). It appeared on the site of the city walls that existed from the XIII to XV century, which were torn down by decision of the Austrian authorities in 1810-1814 (after the partition of Poland passed to Austria). Only a fragment of the city fortifications behind the barbican and the Florian Tower at the beginning of Florian Street survived.

Town Hall Tower

The Town Hall Tower (photo)

The town hall tower is the only surviving part of the town hall, which was built in the early 14th century and dismantled in the 19th century.

The town hall building, built of brick and stone, was intended for the work of the City Council and included a place for the city treasury, court and even a prison, which was located in the basement of the building.

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After reconstruction in 1960, the tower was transferred to the Historical Museum, whose exhibition is devoted to the history of city government.

The entrance staircase is decorated with stone lions brought from the Morstin Palace in Plavovice, and on the second floor there are late Gothic portals and stone mascarons from the 14th century. In addition to the museum tour, you can also visit the former treasury of the town hall, the Mascaron satirical theater and the cafe located in the ancient cellars.

Coordinates : 50.06140600,19.93644600

Czartoryski Museum

The museum was founded in 1878 as an extension of the first art museum in Poland, founded in 1796 by Princess Isabella Czartoryski on the squares of the Czartoryski residence in Puławy. Patriotic relics occupied the “Shrine of the Sibyl” (a small rotunda in the park), opened to the public in 1801.

Old Theater

Old theater (photo)

The Old Theater in Krakow lives up to its name. It is one of the first theaters in Poland, which was officially opened in 1781.Today, the Old Theater operates four stages in the city center.

The initiator of the opening of the theater was Matthew Witkowski, who was granted permission by the authorities to entertain at a cost of 50 Polish zlotys per month. Witkowski became the first director of the theater. The theater has a very rich history. During the occupation, the Germans completely painted over the beautiful ornaments, changed the color of the walls, and turned the theater into a concert hall. But recently, three halls of the building have been restored, and soon it will be the turn of the last hall. In 1991, the Old Theater was given the status of a national theater.

It is very difficult to get tickets here, it even happens that a month before the start of the performance the seats are already booked. The most famous and professional actors and directors in Poland work here. But the most important thing is that over all these years, the quality of the performances has been maintained. Even after one such spectacle, emotions and memories will last a long time.

Coordinates: 50.06343400,19.93533300

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Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle (photo)

The Wawel Castle is a symbol of Poland and has a special place of honor in the heart of every Polish citizen.

The castle is made in Gothic style and rises 228 meters above sea level. It consists of several cathedral complexes, of which the most famous are the Royal Castle and the Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslas.

The castle has a rich history which it shares with tourists through exhibitions inside the castle. There are chambers of Polish kings, treasury, throne room and armory available for visiting.

Wawel is especially notable for tourists because of the tradition of burying Polish monarchs here.

Coordinates: 50.05424300,19.93628800

The most popular attractions in Krakow with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Krakow on our website.

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