The true character of a man is only shown in difficult times.
At the time I visited the Enamel Factory, it was still under reconstruction to become the museum it is today. Therefore, only a single exhibition room was open to visitors. Therefore, this tip is not about the museum but about the place.
I have visited concentration camps and places related to other crimes against humanity like the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto. Not a single place was as touching as this one. I was standing for some twenty minutes in the backyard just looking on the place and realizing what happened here seventy years before. You all may know the story from the movie “Schindler's List”, but standing at the spot where the real history happened gives it another dimension. Imagine how many people had the chance to save thousands of life and it was one of the most unlikely persons who had the courage and intelligence. Imagine how people like Mietek Pemper and Itzhak Stern had no other chance than to trust an industrialist and Nazi party member they barely knew to help hundreds of Jews to survive. I recommend you to give yourself some time, find a quiet spot on the grounds and think for yourself after the exhibition what happened here. In my opinion, it was no less than a miracle of humanity in what was probably the darkest chapter in human history.
Surely one of the most notorious concentration camps where Amon Goeth ruled with a dictatorial attitude and killed people just for his own pleasure. The camp was a work camp only, many were transported to Auschwitz before Plaszów became a place of systematic murder as well. Plaszów became infamous through the film Schindler's list. Most of the roughly 1200 lives he saved were from this camp.
Pretty much nothing is left from the former camp, most buildings at the camp were pulled down. There are several memorials on the ground, the main sculpture looks pretty well while the area around one of the black marble stones looked to be devastated by Neonazis. The tombstones turned onto pavement are impressive. Some maps at the entrances are the only help of orientation. The former villa of Amon Goeth (Heltmana 22) and other Nazi administration buildings still stand today.
The former camp is accessible 24/7, there is no entry fee. Plaszów concentration camp can be accessed through Jerozolimska Street.
The former Jewish Ghetto was located in the Podgórze district, South of the Wistula River, roughly between Kazimierz and Plaszów. It was established by the Nazi occupants in 1941and over 15000 jews were forced to live in this very small area. The ghetto walls had the form of rows of tombstones and windows facing the outside of the ghetto were bricked up. In 1943, the ghetto was violently liquidated, most were moved to Plaszów Concentration Camp, the others were executed in the Ghetto or transported to Auschwitz to be murdered.
Today, little remains of the Ghetto. There is a part of the Ghetto Walls at Boleslawa Limanowskiego Street, at the playground bordering the old Podgórze cemetery. Another one is at 25 Lwowska Street. Here, you will also see some houses from the ghetto years, though they have been converted into living units. The largest memorial are the metal chairs at Plac Boharetów Getta where you will also find the famous pharmacy of Tadeusz Pankiewciz (Apteka Pod Orlem, see separate tip).
The pharmacy of the Kraków Ghetto was the gate to the outside world for the Jewish population. It was a hub for undercover operations against the Nazis and one of the way to smuggle goods into the ghetto. Hair dye is often mentioned – to disguise and change identity as well as for the elderly to look younger and therefore escape extermination. The Nazis wanted to move the pharmacy outside the ghetto, but the owner, Tadeusz Pankiewicz refused. He organized a lot of the smuggling and helped to cover the Jews. For his actions, Pankiewicz was named “Righteous amongst the Nations” in 1983. In the same year, the pharmacy was turned into a museum.
There is a small but good exhibition in the pharmacy about its history and role in the Kkrakow Ghetto. As of 2013, the entry fee for adults is 10 zloty, free admission on Mondays. Please check the page for the current fees, concessions and opening times.
One of life's simple pleasures is sitting in the terrace of a bar with the sun shining, a cold beer in hand and a cigarette. When there's a constant stream of pretty women walking past that's a doubleplusgood bonus ;))
Whilst "Vis-a-Vis" is arguably one of the scummies bars in town, definitely the shadiest one is the courtyard bar "Mlekowoz" on ul Mieselsa, just off the Plac Nowy in the Kazmierz district.
This is a sort of local's secret, occasionally stumbled upon by those of us wandering off the beaten path, and is well worth searching out when the afternoon sun is high. The whole courtyard is under the shade of an ancient towering chestnut tree and is a great place to stop off for an afternoon beer and enjoy the predominantly local buzz (and of course the pretty girls!).
Service is from a wooden hut and you have to queue to collect your own drinks, which can be avoided by strategic timing. Prices are more than reasonable and as well as beer they offer coffee, soft drinks and some snacky bits and bobs.
The first shopping center where trade of choice and to this day still one of the most emblematic buildings of the city. Top of the building is the National Museum of Krakow and contains a collection of 19th century of Polish art
Be careful: there are a lot of places which dispay the classic white 'i' on a blue background, but they aren't official tourist information offices. They are tour agency offices. Yes, they will give you information...and I've no reason to believe they would mislead you...but they aren't the official TI offices.
I've visited two...official.....Tourist Information Offices in Krakow. The one in the main square (Rynek Glowny) is in the old Town Hall tower and is quite small. It wasn't open during my pre-Easter visit.
The TI office on Wawel Hill is very large indeed, with a shop, beautifully-clean toilets and a couple of cafes inside.
Staff in both offices have always proved to be pleasant and obliging, with good English.
Underground Glowny Museum is a unique museum under the town square that recounts life in the Middle Ages. Much of you see are from excavations carried out in the last decade. The museum features a wealth of materials including myriad artefacts and recreations. Amongst the artefacts are human remains of executed victims, shoes and articles of a personal nature, items from a metalsmith and others.
There are also recreated cabins of a metalsmith and the excavations where the human remains were found. Some left in situ. One can use a variety of hands on exhibits that tell about the items through audio/visual displays. Elsewhere, small theaters show films using actors depicting various themes and events. And, you see remnants and areas excavated during the archaeological work.
To access the museum, you first must purchase a ticket at the ticket and information office on one side of the cloth hall. The stairs and elevator to the museum are on the other side. You will also find restrooms, a cafe and a small shop selling books and souvenirs.
The Barbican is only one of three medieval defensive structures of its kind. First, erected in 1498, it was once connected to the city walls at the Brama Florianska. The barbican is 24 meters wide, with walls that area 3 meters thick. It was further surrounded by a large moat. The tunnel allowed reinforcements to get into the Barbican. A mighty defensive structure.
entry- 7 zl.
One thing I found quite strange about Krakow. You are walking around in the Old Town and you see a LOT of places displaying the typical tourist information sign. At first I thought to myself that Krakow really is spending a truckload of money on supplying tourist information.
Well not so fast!
Most of the signs I saw downtown were actually businesses selling tours or activities. Would they provide you information..how to get to this or that place...absolutely! Without exception these tourist points were friendly, and helpful
I f you already know more or less what you want to do anyway, it doesn't really matter much that these information points weren't official. The official information points I saw were at the airport, the Cloth Hall and the Castle.
I wrote this tip after my first visit in 2006 and I'd say exactly the same today.
Central historical Krakow is very walkable indeed and one sees so much more like this (although rickshaws, buggies and carriage rides abound). It's flattish, the pavements (sidewalks) are in reasonable condition despite the harsh Polish winters, everything is fairly close together, it feels very safe indeed (including after dark and including for a solo middle-aged female), the traffic in the non-pedestrianised parts is remarkably light for a city, snow and ice are quickly cleared away or sanded (as I discovered on my most recent March visit)............and you can easily (and cheaply) get a bus or tram back to base.
Even with no Polish it's easy to find your way around. The old city is laid out on a grid, which helps massively, and is encircled by the Planty gardens. When you reach the Planty, you know you are on your way into or out of the historical centre! The Tourist Office has free street plans and the street names are clearly signposted.
There are plenty of information boards dotted about too, with English translations, so there is really no excuse for not taking time out to wander, look, watch and absorb........and always make sure that you look up! :-)
Set on Wawel Hill, along with Wawel Castle, the cathedral dates from the 11th century (although there is archaeological evidence for settlement on the hill as far back as the Paleolithic). Poland's most important church, and where the late Pope John Paul ll began his religious career, it contains 18 chapels as well as a crypt containing the coffins of many royal personages.
The cathedral itself is largely a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and baroque styles, with many gilded and twiddly bits throughout. Many people climb up the tower to see Dzwon Zygmunta (Sigismund's bell). which is huge and was cast in 1520 (touching its clapper with our left hand will bring good luck, apparently). I didn't bother, but I did particularly like the chapel on the right as you enter; very beautifully painted. Unfortunately, it is not accessible to those who do not pay for their ticket: entrance to the cathedral is free but you pay for the crypt and the bell tower.
I also liked the altar dedicated to St Jadwiga, who was a particularly pious and caring Hungarian ruler of Poland (she left Hungary when she was 14, in 1384). Her (ceremonial now rusted and out-of-shape) orb and ceremonial sword are also displayed.
There are some rather lovely ..albeit modern..stained-glass windows near the enormous balduchin in the centre of the cathedral. It's worth looking out (and up!) for those.
I've always enjoyed the external view of the different chapels on the southern side of the cathedral. Such a mixture of architectural styles, frills and fanciies!
I must admit that on my first visit (in August) the number of tour groups made me whizz round rather more quickly than I would otherwise have done; the place was so very crowded. Out of season, early on a freezing March morning, the cathedral was much emptier and I saw much more.
But even if you do visit at the height of the high season the cathedral is worthwhile. To avoid the worst of the crowds, try to get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
For many centuries Krakowian houses did not have numbers. They had to have some sort of distinguishing feature so that the (largely non-literate) population could find them.
Dom Pod Lwem (the house under the lion) is on Ulica Grodzka (number 32)............the carved lion dates from the fourteenth century.
Dom Pod Elephanty (the house under the elephant) is also on Ul Grodzka at 38. On my 2013 visit I noticed that the elephant had been given a rather fetching coat of gold paint! :-)
Dom Pod Obrazem (house under the painting) is at 19 Rynek Glowny.
Dom Pod Wieiwiorka (house under the squirrel) is on Ulica Florianska.
There are many more such houses. Spend time looking upwards when in Krakow for, as with all cities, there is much which can be missed if you do not do so.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ....
Polish: Grób Nieznanego ¯o³nierza is
a permanent monument in Warsaw, Poland,
dedicated to the unknown soldiers
who have given their lives for Poland.
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