Old living towns somehow continue to live in old town squares with stories peeping from the corners. Sometimes you walk on them literally and most importantly life somehow moves at the leisurely and relaxed pace in these spaces. You can simply sit by the fountain or at one of the open coffee shops and watch and enjoy the surroundings. By evening there are performing artists showcasing their talents. Entertainers trying to grab your attention and there is so much of food around to fill your senses. Krakow Old Town is one such tourist attractions of Poland and Europe.
Walk around Old Town – Things to do in Krakow
Krakow’s old town square is one of the largest and oldest town squares in Europe. It is a big square with a rectangular market square in the center. There are open cafes all around the periphery of the square. If you visit this place in summer you must try the strawberry ice cream here. Town hall tower stands tall like a guard overlooking its area. Basilica of the Virgin Mary with its unusual asymmetric towers is one of the most famous churches in Poland. It dates back to 14th CE. Narrow lanes lead you out of the square to various parts of the town. One such lane leads to the University of Krakow. It fondly displays its affection for its famous student Nicolas Copernicus the famous physicist. I was delighted to see poetry written on some walls around the university campus.
Market square in the center was a trading center in the medieval times and potentially had traded with the Asian countries like India. Spice and textiles were imported from the east. The salt and minerals from the mines here were exported. This also means that this was a part of the old trade route. Today it is the shopping center for tourists with all kind souvenirs being sold in the colorful small shops.
In the evening, you can hear the music coming from various pubs and cafes in the area. We visited a couple of them I heard some of the best live music played and singing that has an impact far greater than any recorded music. There are quite a few Indian restaurants in Krakow though there are not many Indians around. We also visited an old café, which still maintains its old world charm. And boasts of being the oldest cabaret in town, and it is a story for another day. In the middle of the square are a few fountains and a hand pump and people were actively using it. Horse-drawn carriages took tourists for a joy ride around the square.
I found the underground archaeological museum most fascinating place in Krakow old town. This many centuries old town square kept going down under the weight of new constructions. Eventually what was the ground floor has now become the basement. What they have done is converted this basement into a museum showcasing the history of the town. Especially the town square through various archaeological artifacts and audio video displays. Through the glass ceilings that are also the base for the fountains on the current day ground floor, you can actually see outside. And see the tall structures and people moving around in the square. I found this design incredible.
It was like standing in the past and yet looking at the present. Of course, you admire the way they have conserved the whole basement as well. In fact, if you go to certain restaurants, you can see the operational basements. And the owners will tell you that it was actually the ground floor when the restaurant first came up. This was one of the most interesting part of Krakow old town.
Old towns are typical of most European cities, similar yet unique.
Recommend you to read following Things to do in Krakow and Poland Tourist attractions.
Schindler Museum – Krakow.
Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow.