Krakow

Krakow Travel Blog

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Basilica of the Virgin Mary

I arrived late the previous night in Krakow, and there was little more than I could do than check in to the hotel that my friends had found for me.  They did a great job, I was very pleased with the place!

The next morning I woke up early, I only had one day to really see Krakow.  The next day I wanted to spend in Auschwitz and also at the salt mine if there was time.  The sun was shining and the birds were singing.  It was going to be a beautiful day...right?

My morning walk through Krakow took me to the main square of the town.  It was there that I had the first glimpse of the Basilica of the Virgin Mary (which I'll talk more about in a bit), and the town's covered shopping "mall".

Krakow main square
  I decided to first take a look at the mall just to see what was going on there.  Well, the place was already totally packed with people looking at all the different wares.  I could barely fit through there as I made my way from one end to the other.  I didn't end up buying anything.  :)

I left the main square knowing that I would come back later.  I wanted to see Krakow's Castle before it got too busy.  As I walked the streets of Krakow, I realized just how beautiful the town was - and I knew that there was no way I would see everything in a day.  I passed a church on the way to the castle that was bustling with activity.  I looked inside, and - a wedding was taking place!  I tried to watch for a few minutes along with other people who were standing in the back, but a mean lady came and told us all to leave.

Church in Krakow
  We were not disrupting the service, but she certainly did!

Anyway, I continued on to the castle.  It's free to walk around some of the grounds, but the rest you have to pay for.  I got in line to buy a ticket, and I am glad I did when I did - apparently they only sell a certain number of tickets a day for each attraction, no matter how many people show up wanting one.  There were some tickets left for the sites I wanted to see, so I was all right - although some things were sold out and it was still quite early.

I continued my walk on the grounds of the castle, and then headed into Wawel Cathedral.  This large cathedral on the castle grounds is the final resting place of many members of the Polish royal party, poets, war heroes, saints, and many others.

Inside Krakow Castle
  It is will worth a look.  Also, at the entrance to the cathedral hangs some dinosaur bones - rumor has it that if those bones ever fall to the ground, it will mean the end of the world.  The cathedral also has a bell tower that I took advantage of for some great views of the area!

Myth states that many years ago there was a small village near Wawel Hill.  At the base of this hill was a cave that no man had ever ventured into.  The people of the town told stories of a sleeping dragon in that cave, and that no one should ever go inside to wake it.  However, the youth of the town did not believe this story, and ventured into the cave to disprove it.  With their torches, they walked through the cave until they came across a large, scaly obstruction.

The dragon of Krakow!
  Scared, the youth ran out of the cave as the dragon woke up, breathing fire and roaring.  From that point on, the village saw no peace.  The ruthless dragon would attack people and carry of animals and vegetation.  Finally, a wise man in the town named Krakus developed a plan for stopping the dragon.  He coated sheep with sulfer and led them out to the open field.  The dragon ate the sheep and had a terrible fire within him, and a terrible thirst. It rushed to the River Vistula and started drinking. It drank and drank and could not stop. The dragon began to swell, but still it drank more and more. It went on drinking till suddenly there was a great explosion, and the dragon burst.  The people rejoiced and made Krakus the ruler of the town.
I happened to take this wedding shot at Krakow Castle
  They built a stronghold on Wawel Hill and lived many great years.

True enough, there is a 200 meter cave at the base of Wawel Hill, and as I wandered down there I saw the dragon himself!  Be sure to check out my picture of him.

After I had completed my rounds of the castle, I headed back to the main square and went to the Basilica of the Virgin Mary.  This basilica also has a bell tower, so I went to the top and got some great pictures.  If you ever hear the hourly chime for this basilica, you will notice that it suddenly stops in the middle of the chime.  The reason for this is that back in the day, during some war, a trumpeteer was giving the hourly call when he was struck in the throat with an arrow.  Ever since then they have played the chime and suddenly cut them off part way through.

Wawel Castle

I continued my walk through the city, not realizing that it was getting cloudier and cloudier.  Suddenly (for me, anyway), there was a huge downpour and I was caught in the middle of it.  With nowhere to go, I ducked into a bookstore with a bunch of other people.  I didn't even have a poncho or an umbrella with me, I was very unprepared.  Whenever it let up, I would run as far as I could before it started pouring again.  I ended up in a McDonalds for a while (but I did not eat anything there!).  Finally, as quickly as it came on, it stopped raining altogether.

I had dinner in a little restaurant near the main square, the food was very cheap.  I ate my first plate and then decided I was still hungry, and ordered another one (they were like $3 a piece).

Marketplace from above
  The lady thought I was crazy and then a pig for eating all that food.  When you walk around all day and don't eat a big lunch, you get hungry!!!

On my way back to the hostel for the night, I stopped at the Barbican, which was a defensive post in the heart of the city.  I am not sure how much it was used, but it was neat to see.  Before I left the Barbican though, I heard music from the main square.  I went back there to see a couple different bands playing all different kinds of music.  It was a neat way to end the day.

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Basilica of the Virgin Mary
Basilica of the Virgin Mary
Krakow main square
Krakow main square
Church in Krakow
Church in Krakow
Inside Krakow Castle
Inside Krakow Castle
The dragon of Krakow!
The dragon of Krakow!
I happened to take this wedding sh…
I happened to take this wedding s…
Wawel Castle
Wawel Castle
Marketplace from above
Marketplace from above
The Barbican
The Barbican
Krakow (in the main square)
Krakow (in the main square)
Inside the Basilica of the Virgin …
Inside the Basilica of the Virgin…
Krakow
Krakow
Church in Krakow
Church in Krakow
Krakow
Krakow
After the rainstorm
After the rainstorm
Wawel (Krakow) Castle
Wawel (Krakow) Castle
Wawel Castle
Wawel Castle
Krakow
Krakow
Krakow
Krakow
Walking up to the castle in Krakow
Walking up to the castle in Krakow
Inside Wawel Cathedral
Inside Wawel Cathedral
Inside Wawel Cathedral
Inside Wawel Cathedral
The bell of Wawel Cathedral
The bell of Wawel Cathedral
Wawel (Krakow) Castle
Wawel (Krakow) Castle
Late night music in Krakow
Late night music in Krakow
Late night music in Krakow
Late night music in Krakow
Famous marketplace
Famous marketplace
View from Wawel Cathedral
View from Wawel Cathedral
Rumor has it that if these bones f…
Rumor has it that if these bones …
Krakow Castle in the distance
Krakow Castle in the distance
View from the Basilica of the Virg…
View from the Basilica of the Vir…
Krakow
photo by: EmyG