After arriving in Krakow late Saturday evening, the plan was to find a free walking tour for Sunday. we settled on the Krakow Explorers and were more than happy with our guide Eugene. We met again in front of St. Mary’s Basilica, the most beautiful church on the main square. As you can see the church has two different towers and there is a legend about rivaling brothers. One tricked the other and built a higher tower, which got him killed. So much for trickery.
Right next to the basilica, in the heart of the medieval town is a small statue of a replica figure from the famous Veit Stoss altar inside. I like that it is now a pigeon bath, but even more I love the guy’s expression. He has such dreamy look on his face.
From the main square we walked to the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, which does like as if it could stand in Vienna. The imperial yellow color is just the right shade of Schloss Schönbrunn.
Right around the corner from the theater is the St. Florian’s Gate, a medieval watch tower and part of the barbican. Of course the wall was demolished by the Austrians. We did the same Vienna too. In Krakow, instead of a three lane boulevard with large palaces, you find a park area around the city.
We passed the Jagiellonian University, which is the oldest one in Poland and the second oldest in Central Europe (older than the one in Vienna). Noteable are the students, which range from Copernicus, the Polish king Sobieski, and also Pope John Paul II. He couldn’t finish though since in 1939 the Gestapo in a ‘Sonderaktion’ rounded up 184 professors and lecturers and sent them to a concentration camp.
The Pope John Paul II. had of course a big impact on the city, since he had studied here. The window from which he waved and talked to the people got boarded up and beautified with his portrait.
Our last stop was the Wawel Royal Castle, which we did in more detail on our own. A walking tour is great to give you an overview and this is in short exactly what Eugene did. Yours, Pollybert