Krakow is without doubt one of the most beautiful cities, ranking with Prague and Vienna as one of the real architectural gems of central Europe and its historic centre is a UNESCO world heritage site.
The city first came to prominence nearly 1,000 years ago when it became the royal capital of Poland. It remained so for 500 years, spanning both the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. The castle evolved to become the sumptuous Royal Palace and was the centre of ancient trade routes to the orient and Baltic. This, together with salt (that vital commodity, which it possessed in abundance) ensured its immense prosperity, and the result is the amazing collection of palaces, aristocratic buildings and works of art that you see today.
The city reached its zenith during the 16th century when learning and science prospered and over the centuries influence from Prussia, cities from the Hanseatic League and absorption within the Habsburg Empire have all left their classic and architectural influence, contributing to the masterpiece that is now Krakow.
Centred in a magnificent medieval square, the second largest in Europe, the statistics are staggering – over 6,000 historic buildings and monuments, 18 museums, 2.5 million works of art, one of Europe’s oldest universities and over 140 churches – many of them stunningly decorated in their own right. Spared any significant war damage, today the city is a delight to explore. Krakow is far from just a collection of buildings, its atmosphere is vibrant, alive and timeless with the past and present beautifully intertwined.
The city also boasts a great cultural past, which is hardly surprising from the country of Copernicus and Chopin. During the evening there could be nothing better than to attend one of the numerous classical music concerts that are held in churches throughout the city.