Located some 50km southwest of Kraków, the small town of Wadowice features a population of around 20,000 and is fairly unremarkable beyond the fact that it was here on May 18, 1920 that the future Pope John Paul II was born, an event that's turned the otherwise sleepy municipality into a major place of pilgrimage, complete with tacky tourist trappings. Everything of interest revolves around the town's small central square - the appropriately named 'Plac Jana Pawła II.' The main attraction is John Paul II's Family House - 1200 square metres of exhibition space over four floors which chart the great man's life and work in the very house he grew up in. Included are various personal and historical items, including family photos, heirlooms, manuscripts and even the gun used in the 1981 attempt on the Pope's life. Visiting is with a guide only (available in Polish, English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Russian), and it's recommended that you book in advance.
John Paul II had a remarkably sweet tooth. During his 1999 visit to Wadowice he made a passing remark on his fondness for kremówka, a local cream cake he used to buy in the town's Karol Hagenhuber confectionery shop at the other side of the square that's now a bank. The locals went wild for his comment and just about every shop in Wadowice, regardless of whether it sells food or not, sells slices of kremówka for visitors to try. Indulge yourself.