Beautiful, vibrant and historic: This is Krakow, Poland, the nation's second-largest city.
Any tour of the city means witnessing ancient architecture, sampling amazing food and reclining in a square that is renowned worldwide.
Krakow is also an epicenter of Polish and Jewish cultures, along with numerous others that have come in contact with this multi-border region throughout the centuries. A trip here encompasses all manner of emotion. It will uplift, engage and, yes, terrify. It remains one of the more unique and truly special cities in the world-a destination that you will cherish the moment you set foot on its glorious streets.
Indeed, it's important to experience all this amazing region has to offer-especially those locations that remind of the gravity and hold its history still has on all of us.
Rynek Glowny, or Grand Square, is an introduction to the culture and history behind Krakow. It's been in existence since the 13th century and serves as the area's heartbeat.
InYourPocket.com offers a glimpse of the sights and sounds to experience, such as the Cloth Hall, which still offers a beloved place to purchase local wares.
More than commerce, the plaza is that rare place where you won't mind getting a stiff neck from gawking at the surrounding skyline or while scaling stairs at iconic structures such as the Town Hall Tower and St. Mary's Basilica.
You will absolutely be glad you did.
Wieliczka Salt Mine:
This UNESCO site has been around since the 13th century when salt was discovered in the area. Since then, it has welcomed quite the eclectic group of tourists. Wikipedia claims the following are among those who have walked these mines: Nicolaus Copernicus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Fryderyk Chopin, Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) and President Bill Clinton.
A million visitors annually flock to this magical site that remains seasoned with antiquity. You might even stay 135 meters below ground, it the mood strikes.
It's easy to fall in love with a location so gorgeous. But then you hear about its history and the added weight makes this a castle you will want to visit again and again.
Coronations have taken place on Wawel Hill, a limestone rock that also has quite the legendary past.
The official website explains: "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 Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight."
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Kazimierz - Jewish district:
This treasured area is peppered with synagogues and showcases the Jewish culture and faith. As InYourPocket.com explains, it has become so much more recently, however.
The travel website describes it as, "a bustling, bohemian neighborhood packed with historical sites, atmospheric cafes and art galleries."
Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory:
Of course, this region is also home to a most tragic and abhorrent moment in history. One of the locations you will want to visit is Oskar Schindler's factory.
There you get a close look at this man's life and the Jewish workers he helped save, but also Krakow and greater Poland during the time of Nazi occupation. It's a trip through World War II when this city changed forever.
One of the most sobering sights you can ever see looms nearby at Auschwitz-one of Nazi Germany's most heinous concentration camps that actually included three major complexes and 45 satellite camps.
As Wikipedia details: "An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to the camp, of whom at least 1.1 million died. Around 90 percent of those killed were Jewish; approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah's Witnesses, and tens of thousands of others of diverse nationalities, including an unknown number of homosexuals. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments."
It remains an iconic location from one of history's most deplorable events and a must-visit, serving as a reminder of what depths humanity can sink to when hatred proliferates unchecked.
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