UNESCO World Heritage Site #199: Cracow’s Historic Centre

UNESCO World Heritage Sites #199: Cracow's Historic Centre
UNESCO World Heritage Sites #199: Cracow’s Historic Centre

From the World Heritage inscription:

The urban layout of Cracow, an outstanding example of medieval architecture, is based on four core areas: the centre, around the market square; the Wawel, the hill inhabited since the Palaeolithic and the site of the imperial palace; the urban district of Kazimierz; and the Stradom quarter.

The historic centre of Cracow, the former capital of Poland, is situated at the foot of the Royal Wawel Castle. The 13th-century merchants’ town has Europe’s largest market square and numerous historical houses, palaces and churches with magnificent interiors. Further evidence of the town’s fascinating history is provided by the remnants of the 14th-century fortifications and the medieval site of Kazimierz with its ancient synagogues in the southern part of town, the Jagellonian University, and the Gothic cathedral where the kings of Poland were buried.

Stare Miasto is the old city, characterized by the rigid grid of perfectly orthogonal streets, the layout ordered by Boloslaw the Chaste in 1257 when he decided to unify the various peoples scattered around the hill of the Wawel. All that remains now of the medieval enclosure walls is the gate and the little wall that was built in 1499 near the main city gate.

Krakow is a beautiful city.

You can really tell the difference between Krakow and Warsaw when you see both cities close up. The newness of the Warsaw old city is much more evident once you compare it to Krakow.

As with the old parts of many European cities, the old city of Krakow is a tourist district. There are plenty of restaurants, souvenir stores and horse drawn carriages.

I’ve had many other travelers recommend Krakow to me and I can heartily pass along the recommendation. Not only is Krakow itself a UNESCO Site, but there are four more within a 40km radius of the city.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.