Activities

Krakow: Medieval History City Walking Tour

Discover the Medieval History of Krakow with a Walking Tour

Discover the charm and rich history of Krakow as you embark on a medieval history city walking tour. Stroll through the UNESCO-listed medieval core of this enchanting Polish city and experience first-hand the stories and landmarks that shaped its fascinating past. With every step, you’ll uncover captivating tales of kings, knights, and legendary battles that took place within these ancient streets.

Krakow Medieval History Walking Tour

Your adventure begins at Europe’s largest medieval market piazza, where the lively atmosphere carries centuries of tales waiting to be shared.

View of Old Town from Tower

Marvel at the imposing Wawel Castle, once the royal residence of Polish kings and a symbol of power and prestige in the Kingdom of Poland.

As you delve deeper into the heart of Krakow, let the narrow, cobbled lanes guide you to hidden treasures and architectural masterpieces reflecting the city’s storied past.

Throughout your walking tour, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the rich cultural tapestry that defines Krakow. From its humble beginnings to its remarkable growth as a pivotal city in medieval and Renaissance Europe, Krakow remains a captivating destination for history enthusiasts and intrepid travellers alike.

So, lace up your walking shoes and embark on an unforgettable journey through time in this enchanting city.

Krakow Medieval History City Walking Tour

Old Town and Its Highlights

Market Square and Cloth Hall

As you walk through the Old Town, you’ll find yourself in Market Square, the heart of Krakow’s medieval town square.

Here, you’ll encounter the beautiful Cloth Hall, a historic trading centre that dates back to the 14th century.

Old Town Markets in Krakow

Inside, you’ll discover a variety of souvenir stalls and antique shops, perfect for picking up a token of your visit.

Don’t miss the chance to appreciate the picturesque surroundings adorned with colourful buildings and bustling crowds.

St. Mary’s Basilica

Another highlight of your walking tour is St. Mary’s Basilica, a magnificent Gothic church soaring above the Market Square.

St. Mary s Basilica

With its impressive twin towers, this religious landmark boasts an intricate interior, complete with wooden altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss in the 15th century.

If you time your visit right, you’ll catch the hourly trumpet call from atop the taller tower – a unique opportunity that encapsulates the city’s historical charm.

Floriańska Street and Royal Route

As you make your way through the Old Town, be sure to stroll down Floriańska Street, a lively and bustling part of the city that connects the market square to St. Florian’s Gate.

Florianska Street

Along this iconic Royal Route, you’ll encounter numerous shops, restaurants and cafes, all framed by the colourful facades of historic houses.

The Royal Route was once taken by kings and queens as they made their way from Wawel Castle to various parts of the city.

Planty Park

Finally, don’t forget to wander through the beautiful Planty Park, which encircles the entirety of Old Town.

Planty park in Krakow

This verdant oasis was created in the 19th century when the medieval city walls were taken down. As you meander along the winding paths, you’ll be able to admire a variety of historical monuments and sculptures whilst enjoying a moment of tranquillity in the centre of the bustling city.

Planty park in Krakow

Wawel Hill and Its Landmarks

Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle is situated atop Wawel Hill, a symbol of Krakow’s medieval might and marvellous architecture.

"</p

As you explore this impressive stronghold, you’ll find it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, which adds to its historical significance.

Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow

The castle, constructed in the 14th century, served as the residence for several kings. Take a stroll through the castle grounds, and imagine you’re walking alongside royalty!

Wawel Royal Hill Krakow Guided tour

Though some areas may not be wheelchair accessible, many parts of the castle are suitable for those with mobility needs.

Wawel Cathedral

Another must-see landmark on Wawel Hill is the Wawel Cathedral. This remarkable structure has played a vital role in Poland’s history as the site of royal coronations and the resting place for monarchs.

Wawel Cathedral

As you step inside this architectural masterpiece, marvel at its grandiosity and the dedication it took to construct such a beautiful building.

Don’t forget to check out the stunning stained glass windows and intricate carvings that adorn the cathedral’s interior.

Wawel Royal Palace

Experience the life of a Polish king or queen by visiting the Wawel Royal Palace. This remarkable edifice showcases the luxurious lifestyle of royalty and demonstrates the opulence of Krakow’s bygone ages.

Wander through the beautifully restored halls and marvel at the exquisite tapestries, paintings, and sculptures adorning the palace. Unlike the castle, the royal palace is wheelchair accessible, so everyone can enjoy the artistry and history that comes with it.

As you immerse yourself in the historical atmosphere of Wawel Hill, remember that each landmark you visit provides a glimpse into Krakow’s fascinating past. So take your time, explore these treasures, and make the most of your journey through Poland’s rich heritage.

Kazimierz District and Its Attractions

Oskar Schindler’s Factory

The Kazimierz District in Krakow carries a rich history dating back to the 14th century. One noteworthy attraction in this area is Oskar Schindler’s Factory.

Oskar Schindler Factory Entrance

As you explore the factory, you’ll learn about its significant role during World War II. The courageous actions of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, saved the lives of over a thousand Jewish people by employing them in his enamelware and ammunition factory.

The factory has been transformed into a museum, where you can discover the stories of Schindler’s employees and better understand the wartime reality in Krakow.

Jewish Quarter

Another must-visit attraction in the Kazimierz District is the Jewish Quarter. Once a separate city founded by King Kazimierz the Great in the 14th century, it became a melting pot of Jewish culture and heritage until World War II.

The Jewish Quarter is now a vibrant, artistic neighbourhood filled with a mix of historic synagogues and contemporary art galleries, making it a fascinating place for you to stroll around.

As you walk through the streets of the Jewish Quarter, you’ll appreciate its distinctive architecture and sense of history. Take a moment to visit some of the synagogues that remain, including the Old Synagogue, which is the oldest still-standing example in Poland.

Synagogues in Kazimierz

You may also want to explore the past and present-day Jewish life in the Galicia Jewish Museum.

Galicia Jewish museum

Your Kazimierz District experience is sure to be filled with opportunities to delve into rich history and witness the unique mix of cultural influences, leaving you with a better understanding of Krakow’s past, and the stories of resilience and courage that have shaped its present.

Remember to take your time and soak in the atmosphere of this remarkable area during your visit.

Rynek Underground Museum

A visit to Krakow wouldn’t be complete without exploring the captivating Rynek Underground Museum. This extraordinary museum is located beneath the city’s Main Market Square and offers an insight into the medieval history of Krakow as well as its connections to other European commerce and cultural centres.

Rynek Underground museum in Krakow

When you enter the museum, you’ll be amazed at the well-preserved archaeological remains that showcase what the city was like 750 years ago. You’ll enjoy a guided tour, which will help you better understand the significance of the artefacts and the stories behind them.

First time in Krakow Rynek Underground

The Rynek Underground Museum is open from Monday to Sunday, with different opening hours depending on the season.

From April to October, the museum opens at 10 am and closes at 8 pm on Mondays, and from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesdays. From Wednesday to Sunday, it stays open until 10 pm.

During November to March, the museum operates from 10 am to 8 pm on Wednesdays to Mondays, while on Tuesdays, it follows the same schedule as the rest of the year.

Admission fees are affordable, with adult tickets priced at zł 28 (US$ 6.90) and student tickets costing zł 24 (US$ 5.90). However, if you plan your visit on a Tuesday, you can enjoy free entrance to the museum.

While participating in the Krakow Medieval History City Walking Tour, your guide will also lead you through the magnificent Wawel Castle, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the enchanting medieval atmosphere.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes and take a moment to appreciate the fascinating history of this beautiful UNESCO-listed city.

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Unique Architecture

Kraków is a city rich in history and architectural wonders. As you embark on the Medieval History City Walking Tour, you’ll have the chance to explore the unique architecture that defines this city, from Renaissance palaces to Art Nouveau buildings.

Renaissance Palaces

As you stroll through the streets of Kraków, take a moment to admire the stunning Renaissance palaces that once housed Polish kings and nobility.

These architectural gems showcase the harmonious blend of Italian influences and local traditions that characterised the Polish Renaissance.

Notice the intricate facades, elegant courtyards, and majestic interiors as you immerse yourself in a bygone era of opulence and prestige.

Some of the most notable Renaissance palaces in Kraków include:

  • The Royal Wawel Castle
  • The Bishop’s Palace
  • The Palace of the Pusłowski Family

Remember to take in the intricate details of these unique buildings while exploring the city, as they are testament to the wealth and cultural sophistication of Kraków’s past.

Art Nouveau Buildings

As your walking tour continues, you’ll discover the enchanting world of Art Nouveau architecture. In contrast to the traditional styles seen in Renaissance palaces, Art Nouveau buildings highlight organic, flowing lines and a focus on natural elements.

Kraków is home to several excellent examples of Art Nouveau architecture, such as:

  • The Stary Teatr (Old Theatre)
  • The House of the Wyspianski Family
  • The Pharmacy Under the Eagle

Pay attention to the decorative details on these buildings as you explore – the intricate use of glasswork, ceramic tiles, and ironwork are some of the standout features. The captivating facades are sure to leave a lasting impression on you during your tour.

As you engage with the architecture of Kraków during your Medieval History City Walking Tour, take the time to appreciate the artistic styles and historic importance of these remarkable examples of Renaissance palaces and Art Nouveau buildings.

Historical Background

Polish Statehood and Monarchy

As you explore the Medieval History City Walking Tour of Krakow, it’s important to understand the historical background of this ancient city. Krakow has been an essential part of Polish history, dating back to the early years of Polish statehood.

In the 10th century, Krakow became the seat of the Piast dynasty, which marked the beginning of Polish statehood. During this time, kings and queens ruled Poland, showcasing the splendour of the Polish royalty. The medieval city experienced significant growth as it became the hub of political and cultural life.

The magnificent castles and palaces throughout Krakow tell stories of the kings and queens who once resided here. As you walk through Wawel Castle during your tour, you can imagine the lives of these monarchs and their contributions to Poland’s rich history.

World’s Oldest Universities

Krakow is also known for its prominent academic history. In 1364, the Jagiellonian University was founded by King Casimir the Great.

King King Casimir III

It is one of the world’s oldest universities, boasting an impressive roster of notable alumni, including astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

As you walk through the historic streets of Krakow, you’ll be reminded of the vibrant intellectual atmosphere that the city has cultivated over the centuries. The Jagiellonian University, with its remarkable history and illustrious list of scholars, is a symbol of this academic tradition.

Krakow Jagiellonian University

With the knowledge of Polish statehood and monarchy, as well as the influence of the world’s oldest universities, you’re now better equipped to fully appreciate the historical significance of Krakow’s Medieval History City Walking Tour. Enjoy exploring the city’s rich past and make the most of your journey through the mesmerising streets of Krakow.

Legendary Stories and Mysteries

Dragons of Krakow

During your visit to Krakow’s Medieval History City Walking Tour, you’ll learn fascinating stories of dragons and myths that have captivated imaginations for centuries.

The Wawel Dragon is a legendary creature said to have terrorised Krakow’s inhabitants until its defeat by a clever, young shoemaker.

Today, outside Wawel Castle, you can still see the dragon sculpture, which breathes real fire occasionally as a reminder of the ancient legend. Engage with your guide as they share tales about this mythical creature and the city’s historic origins.

The Wawel Dragon Statue in Krakow

Haunted Courtyards

As you continue your exploration, you’ll discover Krakow’s haunted courtyards hidden within the city’s ancient architecture.

These mysterious spaces are attached to creepy stories of ghosts and supernatural encounters. Embrace the eerie atmosphere as you stroll through these historic locations, and let your guide fill you in on chilling legends connected to these spots.

While these haunted courtyards may send shivers down your spine, they also provide an insight into Krakow’s intriguing medieval past and its influence on the present-day city.

So, unleash your curiosity and immerse yourself in the captivating tales that make Krakow’s Medieval History City Walking Tour an unforgettable experience.

Medieval Fortifications and City Walls

The Barbican

Discover the unique history of Krakow’s Barbican, a medieval defensive building that protected the city from attacks. This impressive fortress is one of the last remaining structures of its kind in Europe.

Barbakan zabytki Krakowa

The circular design allowed for excellent all-around defence, and its thick walls made it difficult for enemies to breach.

As you explore the Barbican, you can admire its intricate details such as the battlements, embrasures, and drawbridge.

St. Florian’s Gate

Continuing your walking tour, you’ll find St. Florian’s Gate, a significant part of Krakow’s medieval city walls.

Built in the 14th century, this beautiful gateway served as the main entrance to the Old Town. St. Florian’s Gate stands 34.5 metres high, adorned with a stunning Gothic crown and a baroque statue of its namesake patron saint.

Medieval History City Walking Tour Florian Gate

As you pass through this iconic gateway, imagine the feeling of stepping into a time when knights and nobles walked the same cobbled streets.

Krakow’s medieval walls once encircled the entire city, featuring a series of gates, towers, and a 6-metre wide moat. While much of the walls have been taken down over time, some remnants of these fortifications still stand. Take a moment to visualise what a bustling and lively city Krakow was in those times while enjoying your walking tour through its historic streets.

Practical Information and Tips

Booking Your Tour

There are various options for you to join a medieval history walking tour in Krakow. You can either book a paid tour, such as the Krakow: Medieval History City Walking Tour on GetYourGuide, or choose a free walking tour, like the one offered by Civitatis.

Make sure to reserve your spot online to secure your place on the tour. Most tours offer free cancellation, usually 24 hours before the tour starts.

Rain or Shine

Walking tours often operate come rain or shine. To stay comfortable during your 2.5-hour tour, wear weather-appropriate clothing.

Remember to bring an umbrella or a poncho on rainy days, and don’t forget sunscreen for sunny days.

It’s also recommended to carry a phone with GPS and a map in case you get separated from your group.

Accessibility and Facilities

Krakow walking tours are typically wheelchair accessible, making it easy for everyone to enjoy the historical journey through the city.

However, it is best to check with the tour provider if they can accommodate specific requirements.

As the tour duration is 2.5 hours long, it’s wise to bring snacks or have a meal before embarking on your adventure. Your local guide or expert will likely point out various spots to grab food along the way if needed.

Remember that walking tours, whether guided by a live tour guide or a self-guided DIY route, will take you through the Old Town, Kazimierz district, and other historically rich areas of Krakow.

Having a comfortable pair of walking shoes and practical attire will make your exploration more enjoyable.

Recommended Side Trips

Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

During your visit to Krakow, it’s highly recommended that you take the time to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Entrance-to-Auschwitz-Museum

This emotionally impactful guided tour will provide you with a deeper understanding of the tragic events that occurred there during World War II.

A visit to this historic site serves as a sobering reminder of the atrocities committed during this dark chapter of human history.

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Wieliczka Salt Mine

Another fascinating side trip to consider is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located just a short distance from Krakow.

The Chapel of St. Kinga Wieliczka

This incredible underground world features remarkable salt sculptures, beautiful chapels, and expansive chambers all carved out of salt by the miners who worked there for centuries.

As you explore the mine, you will be left in awe by the intricate artistry and exceptional engineering that went into creating this unique attraction.

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Chocholow: Thermal Baths

Looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating break from exploring the historical sites? Head to the charming village of Chocholow, where you can enjoy the warm, soothing waters of the thermal baths.

Swimming in Chocholow thermal baths

Surrounded by the picturesque landscape of the Tatra Mountains, Chocholow’s thermal baths offer a serene atmosphere for you to unwind.

Make sure to bring your swimsuit, towel, and prepare to let go of any stress you might be carrying.

Zakopane Tour

Finally, don’t miss out on a visit to the beautiful mountain town of Zakopane, nestled in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains.

Zakopane Tour with Hot Bath Pools

This charming destination boasts stunning views, traditional wooden architecture, and a rich cultural heritage.

During your tour, you can explore the lively local market, take a scenic cable car ride to the peak of Gubałówka mountain, and learn about the folklore and traditions of the region, all while soaking in the picturesque surroundings.

Gubalowka funicular

Remember to keep these unforgettable side trips in mind as you plan your Krakow: Medieval History City Walking Tour. Each experience offers a unique glimpse into Poland’s rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty.

Experiences Beyond the Walking Tour

Dining in Cafés and Restaurants

After exploring Krakow’s medieval history on the walking tour, you’ll certainly work up an appetite.

The city is full of charming cafés and restaurants. If you’re in the main square area, you’ll find plenty of spots to sit and enjoy a meal. Indulge in traditional Polish cuisine like pierogi, borscht, and placki or opt for international dishes.

pierogi

Don’t forget to try local pastries and almost certainly, you’ll find a friendly atmosphere everywhere you go.

Shopping for Souvenirs

Krakow offers many opportunities to browse and buy unique souvenirs that will remind you of your visit.

Stroll around the main square and the surrounding streets to discover shops that sell handmade crafts, ceramics, embroidered linens, and amber jewellery.

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The local markets are also a great place to find traditional Polish gifts and treats to bring home to your loved ones.

Visiting John Paul II’s Hometown

If you have some extra time and want to explore more of Poland’s rich history and culture, consider taking a trip to Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope Saint John Paul II.

Located only about 50 km southwest of Krakow and easily accessible by public transport, this small town is well worth a visit.

You can learn about the life of John Paul II, visit his family home which has been converted into a museum, and even taste his favourite pastry, kremówka papieska, at the local cafés.

Desert Krémowka in Krakow

By venturing beyond the scheduled walking tour, you’ll create even more unforgettable memories of your visit to the remarkable city of Krakow.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main sites visited on the tour?

During the Krakow: Medieval History City Walking Tour, you will visit the UNESCO-listed medieval core of Kraków, including significant landmarks such as St. Mary’s Basilica, the Kraków Cloth Hall, and Wawel Royal Castle.

You will also learn about the legends of kings, dragons, palaces, and castles.

How long does the walking tour last?

A typical medieval walking tour of Krakow takes around 2-3 hours, depending on the specific tour and the group’s pace.

This allows enough time to explore the various landmarks and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s rich, medieval history.

Is there a guide included?

Yes, a knowledgeable guide is included in the Medieval History City Walking Tour. They will provide insightful commentary about Krakow’s architecture, historical legends, and the complicated history of not only Krakow but Central-Eastern Europe as a whole.

Can I book a private tour?

While some tour companies offer private walking tours of Krakow, be sure to check with the specific tour company you are interested in for availability and pricing. A private tour ensures a more personalised experience and allows you to go at your own pace.

Are tickets required for children?

Ticket requirements for children can vary between different tour companies. It’s a good idea to check with the specific provider in question to find out their policy for children.

Is the tour accessible for wheelchair users?

The Krakow: Medieval History City Walking Tour is generally wheelchair accessible. However, due to the city’s historic nature, some areas might be more challenging for wheelchair users.

It is advisable to confirm accessibility with the specific tour operator prior to booking.

What are some notable landmarks on a medieval walking tour of Krakow?

Some key landmarks you will encounter on a medieval walking tour of Krakow include Wawel Royal Castle, St. Mary’s Basilica, the Kraków Cloth Hall, and Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Świętego Ducha Square. These sites showcase Poland’s rich heritage and the architectural beauty of Krakow’s Old Town.

How long does a typical medieval walking tour of Krakow take?

A typical walking tour of Krakow’s medieval sites generally takes around 2-3 hours. This allows sufficient time for exploring the key landmarks and delving into the captivating history that this historic city has to offer.

KrakowTOP

We are a team of travel lovers passionate about Krakow. We've explored every part of it and learned its history, traditions, and local secrets. We're eager to share our best tips with you. We know hidden gems and local favorites. We're more than writers; we're your personal guides. In our articles, you'll find everything what you need to know about Krakow. KrakowTOP.com team.

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