WALK 9: Other attractions

Rynek Główny, Kraków

Cultural Kraków

Today Kraków is the most culture-saturated of Polish cities, the global hallmark of Polish historic heritage. In recent years the city has also become famous for spectacular investments: modern museums, stadiums, the congress centre, and the sports hall. This panache goes hand-in-hand with the development of cultural life: a range of Kraków festivals, notably Misteria Paschalia and Opera Rara, the Polish Music Festival and Sacrum Profanum, the Summer Jazz Festival and Unsoundwhich have grown into global brands in recent years. Every year they attract audiences counted in their thousands.

Kraków, UNESCO City of Literature and city of writers, organises Poland’s largest Book Fair as well as literary festivals devoted to Czesław Miłosz and Joseph Conrad. Here the best Polish theatres vie for the laurels of the Divine Comedy Festival, and the Art Boom Festival daringly introduces the latest art into the heritage tissue of the historic centre. Off Camera, Kraków Film Festival and the Kraków Film Music Festival (FMF), filling the space with their gigantic productions within the Kraków Tauron Arena, attract artists who keep on returning to the city.

Following the traditions of Kazimierz and multicultural Galicia, the Jewish Culture Festival as well as the dance trance of the New Year’s Party in the Main Market Squareare proofs that Kraków provides a variety of unique impressions and emotions throughout the year.

To work looking at Wawel

You can also spend your three days in Kraków in an exceptionally hard-working environment, without giving up your aspirations to become familiar with the city. The richness of heritage, exceptional variety of restaurants and hotels, picturesque region brimming with attractions, university and intellectual facilities are just a handful of the strong suits which Kraków uses to attract business visits. The city is eagerly selected for conferences and congresses.

The popularity of Kraków in this field has exceeded any and all expectations after the ICE Kraków Congress Centre opened in 2014. The characteristic form of the building situated on the right bank of the Vistula features a glazed hall opening onto a spectacular panorama of Wawel and Kazimierz. It has become another symbol of Kraków: modern and friendly for visitors, but also enjoying the incessant interest of the locals. ICE Kraków invites you to organise events for up to as many as 3000 participants. The Auditorium Hall, ranked among the best in the country, seats 1800 people and is the venue for prestigious concerts, while the Theatre Hall and other spaces hold assorted shows, and festivaland fair events. All this takes place in the heart of the city, with easy access to the airport and motorway.

Gourmet and club tourism

Although there are two Polish cities – Warsaw and Kraków – that play a significant role in the annually published prestigious Michelin guide, it is Kraków that you come to just to visit your favourite or, alternatively, a newly opened restaurant, whether historic or cult. The density of the restaurant, pub, café, bar, and club “grid” in the tourist districts, together with the competitionnaturally developing under such circumstances, make KrakówPoland’s best venue for having something to eat, drink, and enjoy yourself. Unsurprisingly, a decision to visit several places in one night is not that infrequent.

This downright Mediterranean phenomenon makes the social and cultural life buzz throughout the centre, especially at weekends, until the small hours of the morning. The egalitarian, multilingual throng of revellers brings together students and business people, locals, and visitors. The Kraków masters prepare dishes from nearly all locations and cultures, skilfully combining e.g. menus of French and Italian cuisinewith cherished national traditions. Many restaurants abolish the international myth of pierogi being the Poles’ greatest contribution to world cuisine, producing legendary Polish soups, sauces, and venison… Pierogi are certainly not forgotten in Kraków, where a great festival in their honour lets chefs develop their unbridled fantasy in composing new tastes of this seemingly simple dish.

Visitors looking for the local taste won’t leave Kraków disappointed: restaurants, pubs, clubs, and numerous food trucks disposed throughout the city maintain a very high level and attract regular patrons. Usually a first glance is sufficient to tell you whether a given place fits your specific preferences. Owners try to award their venues with an individual set of features, often theme based, and as a rule, surprising and unique. Concerts, exhibitions, and other artistic pursuits are organised in practically each of those places.

In a sporty vein

The Cracovia Marathon, finals of the Tour de Pologne, unique Kolna canoe slalom course, and long-standing traditions and modern stadiums of the Cracovia and Wisła football clubs are all parts of the sporting face of the city that fans have enjoyed for years. Arriving at the foot of Wawel Hill you find cultural and gourmet attractions together with those inspired by sport, which has become a popular reason for tourism, especially since 2014 when the Kraków Tauron Arena, Poland’s largest and one of Europe’s most modern sports and events halls, opened.

It is situated halfway between the city centre and Nowa Huta, but you can arrive there on a tram from near the Main Market Square in just a few minutes. The Arena can accommodate nearly 20,000 people. The athletes enjoy enthusiastic cheering and an unforgettable atmosphere when the Arena is filled with colourful crowds of fans. Almost from its opening, the venue hosted sports events of the highest international standing, for instancethe Volleyball Men’s World Championship and the European Men’s Handball Championship early in 2016.

From its earliest days, the Kraków Tauron Arena has also hosted rock and pop stars of the greatest renown. Having performed in the city and inspired by the enthusiastic welcome, they frequently express their enchantment with Kraków on the social media.

Pilgrimage tourism

Kraków – for centuries the centre of Polishness and Polish statehood – is also the heart of Polish Christianity. This is where paintings and relics famous for graces and blessings received are cherished in churches, the traditions of ancient religious congregations, monasteries and convents are cultivated, and processions and services in the open air gather congregations counted in tens and hundreds of thousands.

The lives of a throng of saints and the beatified have been connected to the city. They range from St Stanisław of Szczepanów and Queen Jadwiga known from Polish history, to the less known Father StanisławSołtysknown as Kazimierczyk living in the 15th century and canonised in 2010. Many of them are buried in Krakówchurches and necropolises. The atmosphere of the city honed the personality of Karol Wojtyła, later Pope John Paul II, canonised on 27 April 2014: a man who always eagerly returned to Kraków, and met millions of Poles here. Finally, just 10 minutes away from the Main Market Square by tram, Kraków boasts the Sanctuary in Łagiewniki, one of the largest in this part of Europe, the world centre of the devotion of Divine Mercy, and the place where St Sister Faustina Kowalska is remembered most tenderly.

Little wonder therefore that when the World Youth Days were held in Kraków in 2016 with the participation of Pope Francis, the city welcomed nearly 3 million pilgrims from all over the world.

Beyond the city bounds

One mustn’t forget the popular destinations for short outings lying around Kraków: the picturesque Jurassic valleys, Ojców and Pieskowa Skała. There are also places that, like the historic centre of Kraków, have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. One of them is a place of special remembrance: the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum. There are also the salt mines of Wieliczka and Bochnia. Although unrelated and very different, either in fact calling for its own day trip, they are often blocked together, especially by organised package tours, as obligatory points on the agenda. The same UNESCO list features the wooden architecture of the region and the famous Sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, whose Way of the Cross runs for milesin apicturesque landscape. Pilgrims are also likely to find their way to Wadowice, the hometown of John Paul II.

Kraków lies only a hundred kilometres away from the rocky Tatra Mountains and Zakopane, generally known as the winter capital of Poland, and even closer to the charming rocky cluster of the Pieniny with its gorge, traditional spas, including Szczawnica and Krynica, and waymarked trails in the Beskidy Mountains free from crowds. The most precious areas of natural heritage and landscape situated in Małopolska can be found in the region’s national parks:Tatrzański, Pieniński, Gorczański, and Babiogórski.

The local traditions cultivated throughout the region, as well as the extensive network of tourist facilities, make Małopolska especially favourable for outdoor recreation close to nature.

Date: 2018-01-25 Show ticket
News Publisher: Portal główny EN
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