Krakow

Kraków Old Town

05 Oct 2017

Any exploration of Kraków’s Old Town should start with the ‘Royal Route’ – the historical coronation path of the Polish kings when Kraków served as the royal capital from the 14th century to the very end of the 16th century. Most of the Old Town’s prime sights lay along this route from the Floriańska Gate to Wawel Castle. For many of less noble lineage, however, the route begins at Kraków’s train station, a walk from which to the main market square is among the most regal and awe-inspiring introductions to any city in Europe. Following the human traffic from the station through the ul. Basztowa underpass will plant you in the green space that encircles the Old Town known as the Planty. Ideal for a fair weather stroll, the Planty was once a series of medieval fortifications surrounded by a moat. After Poland’s Third Partition in the late 18th century, the order came down from Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I to dismantle these neglected structures, however thanks to local effort the northern parts of the wall were spared, including the magnificent Barbican and Floriańska Gate. Walking the two blocks towards the Barbican, take note of the Słowacki Theatre to the left on ul. Szpitalna. A marvellous Baroque masterpiece from 1893, while it’s a bit difficult to infiltrate during the day, buying an affordable ticket to the theatre is highly recommended. On ahead, the circular fortress of the Barbican was added to the city’s defences in the late 15th century while, directly across from it, the Floriańska Gate that officially began the Royal Route dates back to 1307. Pass through it and you’re on one of Kraków’s main commercial streets. Behind the Golden Arches, kebab and souvenir signs don’t fail to notice the architectural detail of the facades. On this street you’ll find the Jan Matejko House and Museum, as well as the under-appreciated Pharmacy Museum.

Associated Venues

Copernicus Monument

 ul. Gołębia near the Planty
Standing on the Wisła riverbank in the shade of Wawe
Marking the edge of the Old Town is Floriańska Gate

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