Living in central Europe, everything is pretty close to you – there are several major cities worth visiting, only few hours of drive away. Despite this fact, I have visited Krakow for the very first time this weekend.
I have read several very general articles about Krakow and have realised, one day will not be nearly enough. However, I have decided to stick to the idea of a daytrip and focused on visiting only the downtown area. It is after all a very nice place and if you wear the right kind of shoes, you will manage it just fine. When I was listing the places I wanted to see, I have looked for architecture from different eras. The main square, Rynek Glowny, has a rather historical character and is listed as a UNESCO site. So it is a must-see-place and be warned, you will meet there the whole army of tourists. Then, this huge crowd marches along the Florian Street and mainly the Grodzka Street – down to the Wawel Castle. Going to Krakow and not visiting these places would be a crime, so I took a look as well. I have been sort of looking forward the St. Marys Basillica and the view from the top of its tower, yet it is open only in summertime. What a shame. On the other hand, the church from inside is nothling like you would expected from a gothic cathedral – very glittery and colourful at the same time. If you like to know more about medieval time in Krakow, there is an exciting Underground Museum, where you can walk through catacombs and excavation sites underneath the Rynek. As the time was short and it was not so high on my list, I did not go.
Beside all the historical monuments, I wanted to see something more peacefull and new as well. Surprisingly, the majority of tourists does not leave the axis Florian St – Rynek Gl. – Grodzky St – Wawel. So, you have to literally take few steps aside and behind second corner, you will find yourself among casual people of Krakow. When looking for some new architectural projects, I have found two nice additions inside of the downtown district from the beginning of this millenium – both of them designed by Ingarden & Ewy Architects. So they have a similiar handwriting and are rare examples of modern additions into an historical urban pattern.
The first one, Malopolska Garden of Arts , is located in a grid between first and second ring and it about 10min walk from Rynek through a very exciting neighbourhood (no irony here – some historical facades, some modern add-ons, and some greenery as well). The building itself is a large ‘L’ and has two entrances from two sides of a block – one wing houses a library, the other accomodates a cultural center with a garden. Underneath the library, there is a nice cafe as well – and they have delicious cakes there :). If you are entering from the garden site, it is a labyrinth but be brave! It is a very quiet place with no signs of tourists what so ever – mostly young people chilling on beanbags, candle-light, soft music, etc.
The second project, Tourist Info Pavillion , can be found directly on the Grodzky Street. It is very simple and narrow volume – really just a pavillion. However, the is very grandiose space on the inside and as it is so much larger than it appears from outside. I have been very surprised. The facade looked rather strange from the street – especially if you are just a random tourist passing by. The three peculiar windows are acctually very nice stained-glass.
You should check out the gallery attached below for some impressions. I have took a lot of pictures, yet I cannot upload all of them, so here goes just a short preview of what to expect.