Image Map

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

5 Free Things To Do In Krakow

Dearest hearts,

Krakow is a city filled with beauty and wonder at each step. Each building and each wall has a story to tell, if only you have the time and the patience to hear it. Considering the fact that the city was not destroyed - as Warsaw was completely wiped out - during the Second World War, you can be sure that you will find true and authentic pieces of history as you walk it's cobblestoned paths. Also due to that there are many places that one could discover, free of charge. Today I will share with you 5 things you can do for free in Kraków :)
1. Teatr im. Juliusza Słowackiego w Krakowie - the Julius Slowacki Theater in Kraków - is a sight you will surely not fail to see. Located in the Old Town at the Planty area (green  garden surrounding the city) it's on the path of tourists and locals alike. You won't pass it without singling it out and having a look at its beauty. The theater was raised in 1893 and was modeled after the best European Baroque theaters - such as the Paris Garnier Opera. It was also named in 1909 after the Polish poet Juliusz Slowacki.
2. Collegium Maius of the Jagiellonian University - one of the oldest locations of the Jagiellonian University, it is very popular due to its position (dead center in the old town, just a few steps away from the Main Market Square) and also the fact that it holds the opening and closing ceremonies of the University year. Right now you can visit the inside as well, as a branch of the National Museum of Kraków is inside it's walls.  It's a point that appears often on the Free Walking Tours that come on a daily basis there - especially the one about the Old Town. I recommend  you to see it ans be there 5 minutes before 11/13 or 15 o'clock to catch the clock of the inner garden sing Gaudeamus Igitur and a piece of traditional polish music while the figurines rotate from one door to the other: kings, Queens and bishops of Kraków carved in stone. It's not as fascinating as the Prague astronomy clock or as well known but you should give it a go ;) 
3. Sukiennice - also know as the Cloth Hall, is located in the "point 0"/dead center of the Old Town, splitting the Main Market Square (the biggest square in Europe!) in 2 equal parts. It survived since the Renaissance period and it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Besides the Wawel Castle and the St. Mary Church (Kosciol Mariacki) it is the most known landmark of the city and it is the most visited place by tourists and locals alike. The inner ground floor hosts (like it did since the 15th century) local artists displaying their handmade products - be it jewelery made out of amber, wooden toys,  leather goods or crystal objects. The 1st floor holds an adorable cafe: Cafe Szal - that has a veey good lemon tart and decent smoothies ;) but no smoking allowed. The 2nd floor holds the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art Museum - part of the National Museum of Kraków - and that's free of charge on Sundays ;) 
4. Planty - the green area around the Old Town - has its benefits and should be a touristic attraction on its own, especially when the trees and flowers are in bloom. There are several magnolias of different colors and statues that can be admired. One of my favourite sculptures is the one dedicated to the Polish artist Chopin. It's best to be seen in summertime when it transforms into a fountain and you can guess it's true meaning: a piano :) It is one of Kraków's larger parks and only by going by its path you can see some of Kraków's most famous places: the Barbakan, the city's defence walls, Florianska gate, the Wawel Castle... and not to mention you will be passing quite a few nice places where you could have breakfast/lunch or just a coffee - like the Bunkier Sztuki Cafe ;)
5. The Wawel Castle - following the Planty area there is no way you will miss this beauty ;) and as a tourist and local I must tell you that nobody comes to Kraków without going to this place at least once ;) located on one of the higher banks of the Vistula river, it hols both the Cathedral where all the kings of the old were buried + the magnificent courtyard of the Wawel Castle. I really recommend visiting it any time of the year but my personal favourite times are either when the magnolias are in bloom (around March-April) or in the summertime when you can catch the medieval celebrations and the Opera of Kraków doing open air shows in the inner courtyard - lovely acoustic and setting for a Carmina Burana, for example ;) If there is one thing I really encourage you to visit, payed visit - that is, in the inner castle, is the "Lady with an Ermine" painting by Leonardo da Vinci. It is bigger and to my impression more beautiful and intimate than the "Mona Lisa" ;) let me know what you think after you have a look as well!

Of course there are many more other free places to visit in Kraków and almost all museum have a free visit day (and it usually gets crowded!) but if you liked the list let me know and I can tell you some more of my favourite free places to visit (and re-visit) in Kraków ;) also if you do nit agree with the list, please shout out :) I would love to hear your opinion!

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves Kraków