Top Historic Sights in Kraków, Poland

Explore the historic highlights of Kraków

Historic Centre of Kraków

The urban layout of Cracow, an outstanding example of medieval architecture, is based on four core areas: the centre, around the market square; the Wawel, the hill inhabited since the Palaeolithic and the site of the imperial palace; the urban district of Kazimierz; and the Stradom quarter. The historic centre of Cracow, the former capital of Poland, is situated at the foot of the Royal Wawel Castle. The 13th-century mer ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

Kraków Cloth Hall

The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978). The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

Church of St. Adalbert

The Church of St. Adalbert is one of the oldest stone churches in Poland. The Church was built in the 11th century and named after the martyred missionary Saint Adalbert whose body was bought back for its weight in gold from the pagan Prussia and placed in Gniezno Cathedral by Boleslaus I of Poland. The interior of the church is cramped, relative to its larger exterior. The floor level is situated under the present level ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

St. Mary's Basilica

Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven (also known as St. Mary's Church) is a Brick Gothic church famous for its wooden altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss. According to chronicler Jan Długosz the first parish church at the Main Square in Kraków was founded in 1221–22 by the Bishop of Kraków, Iwo Odrowąż. The building was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of Poland. Between 1290–1300 the new early Gothic church wa ...
Founded: 1290-1320 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Wawel Cathedral

The Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus is a Roman Catholic church located on Wawel Castle hill. More than 900 years old, it is the Polish national sanctuary and traditionally has served as coronation site of the Polish monarchs as well as the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Kraków. The current, Gothic cathedral, is the third edifice on this site: the first was constructed and destroyed ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Kraków, Poland

St. Andrew's Church

The Church of St. Andrew was built between 1079 and 1098 by a medieval Polish statesman Palatine Sieciech. It is a rare surviving example of the European fortress church used for defensive purposes. Built in Romanesque style, it is one of the oldest buildings in Kraków and one of the best-preserved Romanesque buildings in Poland. It was the only church in Kraków to withstand the Mongol attack of 1241. Along the lower p ...
Founded: 1079-1098 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Kraków Barbican

The Kraków Barbican is a fortified outpost once connected to the city walls. It is a historic gateway leading into the Old Town of Kraków. The barbican is one of the few remaining relics of the complex network of fortifications and defensive barriers that once encircled the royal city. It currently serves as a tourist attraction and venue for a variety of exhibitions. The Gothic-style barbican, built around ...
Founded: 1498 | Location: Kraków, Poland

St. Peter and Paul Church

The Church of Sts. Peter and Paul is a Baroque Jesuit church known best for the statues of the 12 disciples lining the fence at the front. Commissioned for the Jesuit order, Sts. Peter and Paul was the first baroque church in Krakow. It is one of the most faithful examples of transplanting the architecture of the famous Gesu Church in Rome to foreign soil, with a fine Baroque facade and great dome. It is said that the J ...
Founded: 1597-1619 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Church of St. Anne

The Church of St. Anne is one of the leading examples of Polish Baroque architecture. The church was first mentioned in 1381 in the deed of donation of Sulisław I Nawoja of Grodziec. In 1407 the church was completely destroyed during a fire, but it was rebuilt the same year in the Gothic style by King Władysław II Jagiełło. The king also attached the Church formally to the Jagiellonian University ...
Founded: 1689-1705 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Church of St. Francis of Assisi

The Church of St. Francis of Assisi with Monastery of the Franciscan Order is a Roman Catholic religious complex. The Church dates back to the 13th century. Saint Maximilian Kolbe was a monk there in 1919, and led his first service at this church on Poland"s return to sovereignty. There is no consensus among historians about the church"s founder. He was probably Duke Henry II the Pious (1196–1241), son of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

Krakus Mound

Krakus Mound is thought to be the resting place of Krakow's mythical founder, the legendary King Krakus. It has the base diameter of 60 metres and the height of 16 metres. Together with nearby Wanda Mound, it is one of Krakow's two prehistoric mounds, and the oldest man-made structure in Krakow. Nearby are also two other non-prehistoric, man-made mounds, Kościuszko Mound, constructed in 1823, and Piłsudski's Mound, comp ...
Founded: 200-100 BC | Location: Kraków, Poland

St. Florian's Church

The Collegiate Church of St. Florian was built between 1185 and 1216. It was burnt down many times in the 12th, 16th and 17th centuries. Notably, during the Swedish siege of Kraków, General Stefan Czarniecki ordered the city"s suburbs burned down. However, during the city-wide fire which consumed a considerable part of Kraków in 1528, the church – containing St. Florian"s relics – survi ...
Founded: 1185-1216 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Skalka

Church of St Michael the Archangel and St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr and Pauline Fathers Monastery, Skałka, which means 'a small rock' in Polish, is a small outcrop in Kraków where the Bishop of Kraków saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów was slain by order of Polish king Bolesław II the Bold in 1079. This action resulted in the king"s exile and the eventual canonization of the sl ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the first Carmelite Church in Kraków, hence the name of the street on which it stands. According to legend, the earliest church on the same site was founded in the 11th century by Duke Władysław I Herman after a vision led him to this spot northwest of the city walls, where he found blooming violets in sand which cured him of a disfiguring case of scu ...
Founded: 1679 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Tyniec Abbey

Tyniec Benedictine abbey was founded by King Casimir the Restorer probably around 1044. Casimir decided to rebuild the newly established Kingdom of Poland, after a Pagan rebellion and a disastrous Czech raid of Duke Bretislaus I (1039). The Benedictines, invited to Tyniec by the King, were tasked with restoring order as well as cementing the position of the State and the Church. First Tyniec Abbot was Aaron, who became th ...
Founded: c. 1044 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Mogila Abbey

Mogiła Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1222 by the Bishop of Kraków, Iwo Odrowąż. It was the largest and most impressive church in medieval Poland after Wawel Cathedral, and served as the Odrowąż family"s burial place until the 16th century. The monastic community, consisting of the 13 professed monks mandatory for an independent monastery, moved in around 1225, although th ...
Founded: 1222 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Plaszów Concentration Camp

The Płaszów was a Nazi German labour and concentration camp built by the SS soon after the German invasion of Poland and the subsequent creation of the semi-colonial district of General Government across occupied south-central Poland. Originally intended as a forced labour camp, the Płaszów concentration camp, was erected on the grounds of two former Jewish cemeteries (including the New Jewish Cemetery) and populated ...
Founded: 1943 | Location: Kraków, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.