Many people probably know that the capital of Poland is Warsaw, but most would not have known that the old capital of Poland is the beautiful city of Krakow (pronounced as “Kra-coof”).
The city of Krakow today is a much accurate reflection of Polish history and culture due to the fact that Warsaw was totally uprooted during WWII. Here in Krakow, you can see buildings with a rustic feel, which maybe because of its former communist background, thus the buildings were less developed.
The main city hall of Krakow is easily identifiable by St Florian Gate, the ancient city gate and the Barbican, the old watch tower. Once inside, the main market hall is right in the centre of the old city. There stood an old city tower, with a huge cloth hall, which today sells all sorts of souvenirs and Polish crafts. Outside the cloth hall, there’s a large flower market beside the central statue of the square.
You would have probably noticed a big church in the square as well. That’s St Mary Church, one of the most famous church in Poland. Every hour, a trumpeter will blow this tune in the four directions of the square. At noon, this tune is even heard on Polish radio. The tune is special as you would have noticed that it will suddenly end abruptly. Apparently, there was this legend that the church tower used to be a watchtower for the city. One day, a watchman saw some invading troops coming from afar, thus he blew the tune to notify everyone in the city. In the middle of the tune, he was shot through the neck by an archer, thus the abrupt ending. However, this story was found to be fake. Super anti-climax. Haha.
Other famous places in Krakow include St Paul’s Church, which has a different feel compared to the former. There was also the Wawel Castle, where the old kings and queens lived and were buried. Hans Frank, the Nazi commander-in-chief, used to live here as well. So were the President of Poland and his wife, who were killed in the recent place crash.
Below the castle, there was this famous Dragon’s Lair, with a Dragon statue that breathes fire. The legend behind it is that this Dragon used to harm the city by eating humans, his favourite being virgin girls. Then there comes a time where the only virgin girl left in the city was the princess. So the king held a contest saying that whoever kills the dragon get to marry the princess. Many brave but stupid knights tried and were killed, until a smart but skinny cobbler killed the dragon and married the princess. So the dragon statue was erected to commemorate the cobbler’s dragon slaying act.
If you have more time in Krakow, you can consider visiting Wielickza Salt Mines, another famous attraction near Krakow. You get to go like 358 steps/ 100m underground into the ancient salt mines and understand more about the salt mining industry in the past.
Inside the salt mines, you also get to visit the biggest underground church in the world, carved out totally from salt! How cool is that! There’s even the famous Last Supper, this time carved out from salt. Impressive!
I know this entry is a little long, but before I end I wanna introduce Polish food as well! We ate a lot of Polish food, probably cos it’s cheap and good, so shall just introduce you some of the nice dishes that we had! There’s the roast pork neck, traditional Polish pork cutlet and rye soup with sausage, followed by Polish dumplings and pasta, and finally a sumptuous feast of beetroot soup, breaded fish, cabbage wrapped with meat and rice, some meat stew dish and bigos, stew made of cabbage and beef and sausage. Oh not forgetting the local snack, zapiekanka (in chronological order).