Jetsetting, UNESCO

Charming Old Town Krakow, Poland | A UNESCO World Heritage Site

This is where it all began for me, my love for Eastern Europe! Prior to visiting the charming city of Krakow, I had just explored Prague and Warsaw. Both were beautiful cities with great history, but it was old town Krakow that did it for me. The moment that I stepped into the market square, I felt an overwhelming and unexplainable feeling that I have often called the “travelers pull”. I knew that after I visited Krakow that I would be back, and more so that I wanted to explore EVERY Eastern European country. Krakow was that special for me.

Over the past five years from when I first visited Krakow, the city and tourism had definitely changed. On my first visit in 2015, the town square as well as the city was busy but not like my visit in 2019, just months before the 2020 pandemic. On my first visit, there was less foot traffic, not as many horse carriages, and blue bagel carts that sold cheap stale bagels. I know they were stale and cheap because I ate one!

When I returned to Krakow, I was astonished with how much tourism had exploded. There were now lines of horse carriages, tons of tourists, and no stale bagels being sold from the blue bagel carts. It was amazing to me how quickly tourism in a city can become a travel hotspot overnight, due to social media and marketing. I have seen this in other cities such as Galway, Ireland and other locations in my own home country, USA.

St. Mary’s Church

Poland has been explored by many travelers since the fall of communism in 1989, and when Eastern Europe that had once been under the Eastern / Soviet Bloc opened their doors to the rest of the world. In fact, the Historic Centre of Krakow was first designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, and is considered one of the first UNESCO sites ever inaugurated. Krakow was already acknowledged for its architecture, and its outstanding universal value before the wall came down.

St. Mary’s Cathedral

The significance of the Historic Centre of Krakow revolves around the market square (Rynek Główny), multiple historical homes, palaces, and churches that have astounding interiors. A few of my favorite places to visit in Krakow were the Wawel Royal Castle, St. Mary’s Church, the Cloth Hall, and the many tasty restaurants in the area.

Krakow started off as a 13th-century merchant town and is known for Rynek Glowny, the magnificent market square, which happens to be the largest in Europe. There are several significant structures that date back centuries within the square, which are surrounded by charming and colorful historic townhouses.

The Cloth Hall

In the center stands the stately Cloth Hall, which majestically occupies the large square. It was originally constructed in the 13th-century, but rebuilt in 1555 with the Renaissance architectural style. The Cloth Hall was very important to the city’s trading and revenue, as it was a royal privilege that cloth merchants could only sell their merchandise inside the hall. Hence the name, “Cloth Hall”. Today, the hall is still a place for merchants to sell the goods, but in the form of souvenirs and crafts.

Cloth Hall Souvenir Stalls

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On both my visits to Krakow, I did enjoy a variety of dining experiences from perogies at Wawel Castle, the famous Pierogarnia Krakowiacy, grilled sausages at the Kielbasa Van, lunch at one of the oldest restaurants “Hawlka”, and many more delicious meals.

For my Poland food blogs and recommendations:

🍽  What I ate in POLAND – A Food Journal

🍽 The Kielbasa Van in Krakow, Poland – Will Travel For Food

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If you remember at the beginning of this article, I had mentioned that visiting Krakow inspired me to visit EVERY Eastern European country. If you are wondering if I met that goal, I can proudly say that I have. It took me four years to complete that bucket list item, but I did it- from Estonia, to Kosovo, to Bosnia, to Albania, and all the other amazing countries in-between!

Krakow has my heart, and I cannot wait until my return…

-Photo Journal-

I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met

– John Green
First truly at the Kielbasa Van in Krakow

🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre

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