Hey, curious adventurers! Ready to uncover the coolest secrets of Krak贸w? You’re in for a treat because we’re about to spill the beans on all the things that make Krak贸w the ultimate destination. We’re talking mind-blowing castle tales, epic nighttime adventures, and so much more. Get ready for all the fun facts about Krak贸w that’ll have you itching for a visit!

#1 馃椇锔 Krak贸w: Poland鈥檚 old soul 

Before we dive headfirst into the good stuff, let’s pin down where Krak贸w is. Well, think of it as Poland’s heart in the south, right by the Vistula River. With a population of around 779,966 (as of 2021), it’s Poland’s second-biggest city鈥擶arsaw takes the top spot. And it鈥檚 very old: some parts of Krak贸w date all the way back to the 7th century! 

#2 馃憫 Krak贸w’s Regal Past 

Did you know Krak贸w once wore the crown as Poland’s capital city? Yep, its official name is the Royal Capital City of Krak贸w. It ruled as Poland’s capital from 1038 to 1596 when King Sigismund III Vasa waved the capital flag over to Warsaw. But Krak贸w also took a spin as the capital of the Grand Duchy from 1846 to 1918.  

#3 馃挰 Cracow or Krak贸w? 

The city’s got a name twist you’ll find interesting. In the West, it’s all about the 鈥淐鈥 while in places like Poland and Russia, they’re all about the strong 鈥淜鈥. Back in the day, 鈥淐racow鈥 was the English superstar. But things changed when Google showed up. Suddenly, 鈥淜rak贸w鈥 took the lead, especially with visitors. If you Google it, you’ll see around 139 million results for 鈥淜rak贸w鈥 and about 6 million for 鈥淐racow鈥. Centuries ago, the name game was even wilder. Old records call the city 鈥淐racoua鈥 in 966, Ptolemy gave it a spin as 鈥淐arrodunum鈥 in the 2nd century, and for locals, it’s officially 鈥淜rak贸w鈥. 

#4 馃彴 Magic & history rolled into 1 

Now, picture this: a castle that’s been around for over a thousand years. Yes, we’re talking about Wawel Castle. This place isn’t just bricks and stones; it’s like a time capsule that takes you back to the days of kings, queens, and even a legendary dragon. Imagine wandering through its majestic halls, where treasures were stashed, and centuries of stories come to life. 

Wawel Castle
Wawel Castle

#5 馃悏 It鈥檚 Storytime 

Talking about dragons and stories… Once upon a time, King Krakus ruled Krak贸w, and a fearsome dragon lurked beneath Wawel Castle. People trembled, but a clever shoemaker outwitted the dragon, making it explode. This legend lives on through the Wawel Dragon Statue, a 6-meter-tall wonder designed by Bronislaw Chromy in 1969. It stands near the Vistula River, breathing real fire using natural gas!  

#6 馃敂 Deck the halls for love 

Ever heard of the Royal Sigismund Bell? It was made by Hans Behem way back in 1520, named after the King Sigismund I of Poland (who gave it the royal thumbs up), and is in the Sigismund Tower at Wawel Cathedral. You may be wondering, 鈥淥kay, what鈥檚 so special about this bell?鈥 Well, it鈥檚 one of the heaviest in Poland, weighing around 13 tons, and it takes 12 people, 6 on either side, to ring it! This giant bell has a fun job to do: ringing on special days, like holidays. And get this: people say if you give it a little tap when nobody’s looking, you might just get some love luck! How cool is that? 

#7 馃幒 Krak贸w鈥檚 anthem: St. Mary’s Trumpet Call 

It鈥檚 a classic five-note Polish melody that chimes every hour, and it’s been a local tradition for ages. The story behind it? Back in 1240, a brave trumpeter sounded the alarm about a Mongol invasion. But sadly, he didn’t make it, and the tune was cut off after note five. On a happier… note, that same trumpet tune celebrated Poland’s role in the Allied victory at the Battle of Monte Cassino on May 18, 1944. 

#8 馃摐 Quick flashback: Krak贸w’s university 

Krak贸w’s got a history that’s juicier than a mystery novel. Back in the day, it was one of Europe’s oldest university towns. Jagiellonian University, founded way back in 1364, was like the Hogwarts of its time. Even Copernicus went there. And guess what? The brainy tradition lives on with places like Vistula University. 

#9 馃彌锔 Museum Mania: free your inner culture vulture  

Now, if you’re a museum buff, you’re in for a treat when you鈥檙e in Krak贸w. The National Museum Krak贸w will make your jaw drop. Ancient, modern, you name it鈥攖hey’ve got it. It’s much more than just a place for history fans; The heart of the collection beats with Polish art: painting, sculpture, drawing, and decorative art. Western European treasures shine bright alongside religious art from the Orthodox Church and stunning Oriental pieces, mainly from Japan. And this museum also has a soft spot for old prints, manuscripts, and maps, plus a numismatic wonderland, and a Studio of the Iconography of Krak贸w; full of historic city views and photos.

National Museum Krak贸w
National Museum Krak贸w

#10 馃懀 鈥岾rak贸w’s own… Walk of Fame  

Time to put on those comfy sneakers and hit the streets. Krak贸w’s walking tours should be at the top of your bucket-list. Imagine strolling through the charming Old Town where every cobblestone has a story to tell. You’ll also want to stroll around in Kazimierz where the mix of old and new architecture will make your camera work overtime. 

#11 馃寖 Krak贸w after dark  

Here’s a little secret: Krak贸w’s nightlife is a total game-changer. When the sun sets, the fun’s just getting started. The Old Town is where the action’s at, with bars that’ll make your head spin (in a good way!). From fancy hangouts to those mysterious underground bars, you’ll find your groove. And who knows, you might even make friends with the locals who know all the secret spots.  

#12 馃彉锔 Architectural gems… more than selfies  

Hold on, we’re not done exploring, yet! Krak贸w’s got real architectural wonders, such as St. Mary’s Basilica with its unique Gothic style that鈥檚 like something straight out of a fairy tale, and a piece of living history. And speaking of history, Krak贸w’s Jewish synagogues are tales of strength and unity that’ll leave you inspired. 

St. Mary's Basilica
St. Mary’s Basilica

#13馃搷 Europe’s grandest Medieval Square 

Krak贸w’s Historic Centre is like a medieval playground, and at its heart lies the colossal Rynek G艂贸wny. This place is Europe’s grandest medieval town square, sprawling over 3.79 hectares. Since the 13th century, it’s been a hotspot of action, surrounded by charming townhouses. And here’s the kicker: the Cloth Hall (or Sukiennice) is the star of the show. Dating back to the Renaissance era and revamped in 1555, it once hosted bustling trade and chit-chats between merchants. 

#14 馃帴 Lights, Camera, Action | Krak贸w Film Festival  

Cinephiles, this one’s for you: Krak贸w’s got its own star-studded event鈥攖he Krak贸w Film Festival. From thought-provoking documentaries and heartwarming stories to feel-good flicks, it’s a cinema lover’s dream come true. Grab your popcorn and get ready for a movie marathon! 

#15 馃幀 鈥淪chindler’s List鈥 was filmed in Krak贸w 

Steven Spielberg rolled into town to shoot scenes for his masterpiece, 鈥淪chindler’s List鈥. The Kazimierz district (we mentioned it earlier, remember?), known as Krak贸w’s Jewish Quarter, played a starring role in the film since it’s where the city’s Jewish community lived before the war. And check this out: Straszewskiego 7 got a Hollywood makeover as Oskar Schindler’s pad. Do you want to dive deeper? Swing by Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, now a museum with a gripping exhibit about Krak贸w during the Nazi era. Spielberg’s movie definitely left its mark, and you can feel it in every corner.  

#16 馃嵔锔 Krak贸w food adventure  

Did you know that Krak贸w’s culinary scene is out of this world? Think delicious pierogi, sizzling Polish sausages, and other special mouthwatering delights. Going on a food tour here is like discovering a whole new level of yum. Make sure you taste as many local dishes as you can. 

#17 馃尶 Secret nature 

But Krak贸w isn’t just about city streets; it’s got 5 lovely nature reserves, too: Biela艅skie Ska艂ki, Bonarka, Panie艅skie Ska艂y, Ska艂ki Przegorzalskie, and Sko艂czanka. Put them all together, and you’re looking at around 48.6 hectares of pure natural beauty. 

Are you a nature fan? Head to our article Hiking up the Uetliberg in Z眉rich to discover other nature destinations in Europe!

#18 馃挴 UNESCO Approval  

Before we wrap this up, let’s talk about that UNESCO badge Krak贸w proudly wears like we mentioned before. Krak贸w’s not just any city; it snagged the title of the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Way back in 1978, UNESCO gave a big thumbs up to Krak贸w’s Old Town its fabulous Wawel Royal Castle, and its mind-boggling mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. That means you’re about to discover a place that’s been officially recognized as… seriously special. If you’re all about exploring a city that’s a total mixtape of cultures, this is the place for you! 

鉁 Summing up… 

Krak贸w is like that super cool friend who always knows how to keep you entertained. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and endless fun, this city is filled with interesting corners for explorers like you.  

Fun Facts about Krakow: FAQs

Where is Krak贸w located?

Krak贸w is situated in the south of Poland, right by the Vistula River. It's the country's second-largest city after Warsaw.

Was Krak贸w ever the capital of Poland?

Yes, Krak贸w served as Poland's capital from 1038 to 1596. It was also the capital of the Grand Duchy from 1846 to 1918.

What is the difference between the names "Cracow" and "Krak贸w"?

"Cracow" is an old English representation, while "Krak贸w" is the official and local name. The latter is also more recognized globally, especially on platforms like Google.

What can you tell me about Wawel Castle?

Wawel Castle is a historic castle that has existed for over a thousand years. It holds a rich history of kings, queens, and legends, such as the one about the Wawel Dragon.

What's the story behind the Wawel Dragon Statue?

The statue represents a legend where a dragon lurked beneath Wawel Castle and was defeated by a clever shoemaker. The statue, created by Bronislaw Chromy in 1969, breathes real fire using natural gas.

Tell me about the Royal Sigismund Bell.

The Royal Sigismund Bell is one of Poland's heaviest bells, weighing around 13 tons. Created in 1520, it requires 12 people to ring and is believed to bring love luck to those who tap it.

Why is St. Mary's Trumpet Call significant?

This five-note Polish melody chimes every hour in memory of a trumpeter who sounded an alarm during a Mongol invasion but was tragically cut off mid-tune.

Is Krak贸w known for any educational institutions?

Yes, Krak贸w is home to the Jagiellonian University, founded in 1364, which is one of Europe's oldest universities.

What are some architectural highlights in Krak贸w?

St. Mary鈥檚 Basilica, with its Gothic style, and the city's Jewish synagogues, are some of the architectural gems in Krak贸w.

How significant is the Rynek G艂贸wny in Krak贸w?

The Rynek G艂贸wny is Europe鈥檚 grandest medieval town square and has been a central hub since the 13th century.

Does Krak贸w have a film festival?

Yes, the city hosts the Krak贸w Film Festival, showcasing a range of movies from documentaries to heartwarming tales.

What role did Krak贸w play in the movie "Schindler鈥檚 List"?

Steven Spielberg filmed "Schindler鈥檚 List" in Krak贸w, especially in the Kazimierz district, which represented the city鈥檚 Jewish Quarter.

What kind of culinary experience does Krak贸w offer?

Krak贸w boasts a rich culinary scene with dishes like pierogi and Polish sausages.

Are there nature reserves in Krak贸w?

Krak贸w is home to five nature reserves, totaling approximately 48.6 hectares of natural beauty.

Why is Krak贸w recognized by UNESCO?

In 1978, Krak贸w's Old Town, Wawel Royal Castle, and its mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture earned it the title of the world鈥檚 first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

馃泿锔 Where to stay in Krak贸w? 

Only at the MEININGER Krak贸w Centrum in the heart of the city. 

Find us here: Grzeg贸rzecka 10, 31-530 Krak贸w, Poland 

Visiting Krak贸w soon?

MEININGER Krak贸w Centrum is the perfect accommodation for those aiming to visit Krak贸w without breaking the bank.

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