When we were looking for some trip ideas in Europe, my partner shared with me his will to go to visit the camps of Auschwitz. I went with school in 2009 and had pretty good memories of the trip, the city of Krakow and the visits. It was the occasion for me to go back and see it differently, and for him to discover this part of Europe and History. The first day was dedicate to the discovery of the city and its multiple churches.
Morning walk – Wawel Hill
We once again flew with Ryanair as it was the cheapest (125e return for the two of us) and most convenient. We arrived at the airport at 8.30, took a shuttle I had booked online (28e return for 2) and were in the city centre just after 9am.
We didn’t have any plans for the day, we had decided we would walk around, stop where it seemed nice and visit what looked interesting. As we were close to the Wawel Castle and Cathedral we headed that way, through the Planty, the narrow park that surrounds the Old Krakow. This park is really pleasant to have a walk, a break, or even a run in the shade of the trees.
From Podzamcze street you don’t see much from the Castle and the Cathedral, only a few towers poking out of the surrounding walls. It’s a nice teaser for what is coming once you reach the top of Wawel hill!
Once you go through one of the gates, you arrive in a massive courtyard in the middle of the different buildings of Wawel Castle and the Cathedral. There were quite a lot of people but it didn’t take any of the charm of that place. It’s worth walking around and have a look at the buildings as well as sitting down on one of the benches for a short break.
We decided to leave the castle and head towards the city centre, planning to come back in the afternoon to visit at least the Cathedral, once we’d had dropped our bags at the apartment. (Check my next post for some info) Going out by Bernardynska Gate, we had a look at the Sandomierska Tower.
The city centre
First of all, I feel like a map of the city centre and the different churches will be handy so you don’t get too lost, so here it is:
(We’ll start at the bottom of the map)
Following the path down from Bernardynska gate, we arrived at the start of Grodzka Street, where you can see the Church of St Giles. This street is a bit more touristy than the ones we had seen so far. On the middle of it are two churches: Sts Peter and Paul Church and St Andrew’s Church. We visited the first one on that day, and the second one on our last day. I invite you to check my article Krakow, Poland – Day 3 (2) for the pictures! Opposite to these churches you’ll find a little square and a statue with no name.
Church of Sts Peter and Paul (17th century)
The church is already impressive from the outside with its tall dolomite facade, its fence and the several statues of apostles along it. The inside is pretty “sober” compared to some other ones we saw during our trip, but still really nice, all in black and gold.
Church of St Francis of Assisi (13th century)
Following the street, we arrived at a crossroad where we had three choices: keep going to the main square, turn right to the Dominikanski Square or turn left to the Church of St Francis of Assisi. We opted for the last one first, just because it seemed “the least impressive”… And we were wrong! The inside is really dark but richly decorated.
Basilica of the Holy Trinity (Dominican church, 13th century)
The Holy Trinity on the Dominikansky Square is another impressive building with magnificent interior and an amazing altar.
After this last church, we felt like a little break and some food. We didn’t have to walk long as we chose a bakery on the opposite corner of the church: Lajkonik Piekarnia i Kawiarnia. A BLC bread roll, a smoked salmon bagel and two HUGE coffees for 25 zloty, that is 6 euros!! Nice and fresh, delicious and cheap… Perfect!
I’ll leave this article here, as it’s already super long! Krakow is so rich and we saw so many things that it needs more than one post to show them all! In my next post, you’ll have a sneak peak of the Main Square, the free visit of Ste Barbara’s Church, and my favourite church of the entire trip. We’ll also go back to Wawel Cathedral. See you then!