The main square of Old Town Krakow is split into two sections, separated by the Cloth Hall – now an covered market for tourist items. There were daily protests in support for the Ukraine and approximately a thousand pigeons. It was also a two minute walk from our apartment, so we had many opportunities to photograph this area at different times of day (and weather).
pigeons keeping warm by the vents!
Including from above when we climbed to the top of St. Mary’s Cathedral!
St Mary’s Cathedral
The iconic landmark of Old Town, the interior of this church is amazingly ornate, one of the prettier ones we’ve visited in Europe. The frescoes and stained glass are gorgeous and at 10:30am, we saw a nun open the altar triptych. Well worth the ~$4 entry fee. Also worth noting, there is a bugler who plays an abbreviated tune on the hour from four different directions in the tallest tower. He often waves to the crowd when finished. :)
Wawel Castle and Cathedral
We skipped the complicated timed ticketing system for the various castle sites and just explored the grounds on two different days, including the Wawel Cathedral and a fire-breathing ‘dragon’. The massive bell and royal crypts were interesting but the cathedral interior didn’t compare with our favorite other churches in town.
Stained Glass Museum and Workshop
Eric found this workshop that offered tours and a history lesson on stained glass in Poland. Since we both took a stained glass class back in college, it was interesting to visit a professional workshop and learn their process from image generation to how they keep all those tiny pieces organized! I even got to try patinating (reverse painting technique to add detail to stained glass). We wrapped up the hour-long tour with some historical examples in their small museum.
While we ate dinner and visited two wine bars in this section of town, I was a little disappointed in the street art and vibe.
A park that completely encircles the Old Town and a lovely place to people watch. During our visit there were stained glass exhibits at various locales in the park (most were lit up at night).
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
It wasn’t clear what entrance to use so we wound up going in through the administrative wing – oops. Regardless, we found our way into the sanctuary and wow – the interior was covered in frescoes that look like wallpaper from floor to ceiling – mostly with floral motifs. And the stained glass was less iconography-based and more modern with floral components and rich colors.
City Tower Museum
This wasn’t on our to-do list originally but faced with a day of rain and the fact that it is free on Mondays, we decided to have a look. The narrow staircase is not for the faint of heart (or anyone with mobility issues) but thankfully it wasn’t too crowded. There is a nice view of the town square from the top floor and interesting exhibits on city history and culture. The tower was original to the founding of Krakow, with several additions and subtractions over time.
Jagiellonian Library and Professor’s Garden
As luck would have it our 3pm arrival coincided with the mechanical clock show of a parade of academics, viewable from the entry courtyard. The museum is small with a handful of connecting rooms but there is a lot of history packed in. The Senate faculty meeting room is an impressive starting point and all throughout are artifacts and precious objects collected by the university, including some objects used by Nicholas Copernicus. Outside, the professors garden had an insightful exhibit on 1939 academics rounded up by Nazis – a year later many were returned to Krakow but over 20 died in the camps or soon after being freed.
One of our favorite random finds, this stained glass display at Wyspiański Pavillion (plac Wszystkich Świętych 2). From left to right, Henry the Pious at Legnica, Casimir the Great, and Saint Stanislas.
Eric even let me loose in a few pottery stores so I could bring home some Polish ceramics. :D