Walking tour of the Old Town
Begin at the Barbican (north end of Old Town). Note the Florian Gate and the City Walls. Before going through the gate, see the Planty (a park surrounding old town). Walk down Florianska St, continue into Main Market Square (a great gathering place and people-watching area).
Check out St Mary’s Church. Its interior is stunning in maroon and blue and the altarpiece is exquisite. From the window of the tower, a bugler begins a warning each hour to the townspeople similar to the time when the Tatar’s approached in the 13th century and was cut down by an archer. Spend some time at the Cloth Hall, a 16th century Renaissance building which now houses a crafts market. Opposite the church is the Town Hall Tower. Climb to the top for a bird’s eye view of Europe’s largest square.
If time permits, exit the square at the southwest corner on Sw Anny. Ahead on the left is the Collegium Maius, the only surviving building of the academy where the famous scientist, Copernicus, studied. A bit further on the right is the sumptuous, Baroque St Anne’s Church.
Leave the square at the middle of the south end (Ulica Bracka) to a big red brick church (St Francis Basilica) and check out its Art Nouveau stained glass. Outside the church, turn right and look across the square to see the 13th century Dominican Church. Both were powerful monastic centers. Walk south on Grodzka. Continue on Grodzka to Saints Peter and Paul Church. This was the first Baroque church built in Poland. Next to it is St Andrews Church, built in 1086, which was the only building that survived the Tatar invasion of 1241 AD. Walk across the square opposite the two churches and then turn left on Kanonicza St (arguably Krakow’s most picturesque street) which leads upward to Wawel Hill. Tour the Cathedral, where monarchs were coronated and buried for four hundred years. The Sigismund Chapel, with its golden dome, is a remarkable Renaissance structure. Spend some time in the Castle with its Flemish tapestries and Royal Chambers and on the beautifully landscaped grounds.
If time permits, visit the Jewish Quarter (Kasimierz) which is a 20 minute walk from the Old Town (southeast of Wawel). Take Ulica Stradomiska southward from the castle. Take a right on Meiselsa then a left on Augustiariska to check out St Catherine’s Church, which is Gothic in design, then continue south and take a left onto Weglowa which leads to Corpus Christi Church, which is decorated in the Baroque style. Continue eastward on what is now Wawrzyrica out of Catholic (western) section of the district and into the Jewish section.
Go left on Waska to reach the High Synagogue. Turn left and immediately right to pass Izaak’s Synagogue and then to reach the Remu’h Synagogue and Cemetery. If the synagogue is open, the cemetery can be visited where you will see some interesting Renaissance gravestones.