Kraków: A unique blend of rich heritage and modern vibe

Discover the city of Kraków:

The 3rd McMaster International Review Course in Internal Medicine (MIRCIM 2017) will take place in one of Europe’s great cities – Kraków, Poland. Here are just a few of the main attractions to help plan your stay. There are links to additional resources, including some restaurant suggestions, at the bottom of the page.

Tourist sights

Wawel Royal Castle

The Wawel Castle is the crown jewel of Kraków’s architectural treasures. It’s one of Europe's finest examples of Renaissance architecture and is open for visitors to wander the grounds or view the valuable works of art and antique furniture. The official website with visitor information can be found here: wawel.krakow.pl/en.

St Mary’s Church

The gothic St Mary’s Basilica situated in the old Town Square was built in the 14th century. The main attraction is the world’s greatest wooden altar. St Mary’s church is also well known for its trumpet-call, played every hour from the top of the main spire. The official website with visitor information can be found here: mariacki.com/en.

Town Square (Main Market Square)

The Town Square (Rynek), situated at the heart of Kraków’s Old Town, is included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Known as one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe, it’s the natural heart of the city and a good starting point to orientate yourself.

Sukiennice (The Cloth Hall)

Situated at the heart of the Main Market Square, this renaissance building is one of the city’s most recognizable structures. During its golden age in the 15th century, Sukiennice was a major centre of international trade. That history of trade is still evidenced by the main hall that runs through the building where you can buy great souvenirs, including Kraków’s famous amber jewelry. Don’t miss the underground museum, which reveals Kraków’s past in a state-of-the-art multimedia exhibit. You’ll experience medieval life in Kraków's Old Town and the significance it has for the city today.

Kazimierz

This district was the centre of Jewish cultural life in Kraków for over 500 years before being destroyed during World War II. It is a popular pilgrimage site, which has led to the return of contemporary Jewish culture in the area. The former Jewish square, now known as Plac Nowy, is the natural centre of the district and a great place to start exploring. Kazimierz is also known for great restaurants and a unique night life. The Schindler's Factory Museum is a popular tour (mhk.pl/branches/oskar-schindlers-factory). You may notice that Steven Spielberg's movie, Schindler's List, was shot in 1993 almost entirely in Kazimierz.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Built in the 13th century, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the world’s oldest salt mines still in operation. Now a museum that attracts about 1.2 million visitors annually, the mines feature a breathtaking labyrinthine of chambers, three chapels and an entire cathedral that has been carved out of the rock salt. The microclimate of the mine (with a constant temperature of about 14 degrees Celsius) is said to have a beneficial impact on visitors who suffer from asthma and allergies. The official website with visitor information can be found here: wieliczka-saltmine.com.

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

The Auschwitz Museum and tour present one of the most horrific acts in human history. Visitors to Kraków are faced with the difficult question of whether or not they will make the effort to visit Auschwitz. Located 75 km west of Kraków, it can be reached in several ways. The easiest may be signing up for a tour organized by one of many Kraków-based tour companies. The official website with visitor information can be found here: auschwitz.org/en/museum/news.

Additional resources on Kraków:

Restaurant guide

We’ve compiled a few restaurant suggestions to help plan your stay. This is a very small sample, as Kraków has a myriad of eating options to fit virtually anyone’s taste and budget.

Smakołyki
If you’re looking for traditional Polish food at a reasonable price, try the restaurant called Smakołyki, located on the ring of the park (Planty) surrounding the old town centre.
Restaurant’s official website (Polish only): www.smakolyki.eu
Restaurant’s profile at TripAdvisor: Click here
Pricing: $

Restauracja Wierzynek
Polish cuisine in an elegant setting. This is a good option if you are in the mood for a more formal dinner. Wierzynek dates back to the medieval times and is famous for the great wedding celebration of 1364 of King Casimir III the Great’s granddaughter Princess Elizabeth of Pomerania to Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. The celebration was attended by numerous European monarchs and the nobility. Many world leaders and celebrities have visited the restaurant, including Charles de Gaulle, Sophie Marceau, and Kate Moss.
Restaurant’s website: wierzynek.pl/en/
Pricing: $$$

Pod Norenami (vegetarian/vegan cuisine)
A restaurant known for its nice ambiance and Asian-inspired dishes. It’s located very close to the main square.
Restaurant’s website: podnorenami.pl/en/
Pricing: $$

Boscaiola This classy Italian eatery is located just off the main square. It is a great option for pasta/pizza at a reasonable price.
Restaurant’s official website (Polish only): boscaiola.eu
Restaurant’s profile at TripAdvisor: Click here
Pricing: $$

Additional restaurant resources:

Nightlife

If you fancy a little late night fun, Kraków is the place to be. It is said to have the highest number of bars and cafes per square meter in the world. Be careful, you could easily bar-hop until the wee hours of the morning. Make sure you are in good enough shape to enjoy the MIRCIM lectures in the morning (don’t worry, there’s coffee at the course venue)!

One of our favorite places to enjoy the city at night is Piwnica Pod Baranami, one of Kraków’s famous cellar bars. Serving a wide range of alcoholic & nonalcoholic beverages, there is usually some kind of fun live entertainment (from jazz to cabaret). Click here for more information.

Nightlife picks:

Kraków: A unique blend of rich heritage and modern vibeEvaluation:

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