Skip to content

A weekend in Kraków | Day 1 – Jewellery box city

Being as my Partner Dominik is originally from Poland, it never seemed right that I wasn’t able to list Poland as being a place I had visited, and still less the beautiful city of Kraków which is located in the central South of the country. So in an attempt to rectify this failing, and in order to see out the summer with a bang, Dominik and I recently seized on the opportunity a long weekend presented, and flew out to Kraków.

The moment we walked out of Kraków’s gleaming station-come-shopping centre straight into the heart of the city, it felt like opening a jewellery box full of glinting treasures. The skyline was literally sparkling with a plethora of cupolas and domes – elaborately shaped bell towers and church roofs; turquoise coppers and elegant iron, adorned with dazzling gold details – while underneath, the streets which shape this largest of Europe’s unspoilt old towns were awash with exquisite palaces and townhouses, from baroque to art nouveau, often with an exotic twist of Eastern European decadence.

First views

DSC06798 DSC06833 DSC06809 DSC06948 DSC07085 DSC07219 DSC06819 DSC06882 DSC06980 DSC07053 DSC06958 DSC07067 DSC06987

Having walked through the Florian Gate – the old entrance to the city once framed within Kraków’s ancient fortress walls, and strolled along the bustling Florianska street, the breathtaking expanse of the Rynek Główny, Kraków’s vast central square, opened up before us – the stunning Mariacka Basilica reaching up to the sky crowned with twin towers adorned with the most spectacularly ornate spires; while standing across the square, the equally elaborate Cloth Hall – a long arcade of shops and cafes spilling out onto a terrace decorated with more classical statues, urns and gold-trimmed columns.

Not only was I spellbound by this utterly unspoilt, brilliantly bustling open space, with its many cafes, fountains, statues and markets, I was then equally overcome to learn that the hotel which we would make our home for the weekend benefited from a panoramic view of the entire square from each of its individually designed bedrooms. The rooms at the Wentzl Hotel gave new meaning to the adage “a room with a view”, and once i took a first glimpse out of our window onto the majestic Rynek Główny, I felt as though I could have stayed there the entire trip.

The Rynek Główny

DSC06880 DSC06916 DSC06846 DSC06834 DSC06854 DSC06910 IMG_4488 DSC06840

…and our room with a view

DSC06860 DSC06870 IMG_4517

But drag myself away I did, for many other tempting pleasures lay in wait in this charming old town which felt as though it had been suspended in time. Back down in the square, the first requisite activity was to enjoy a glass of child wine on the front line of a café terrace, so that through the great pleasure of people watching, it became possible to take in more and more of the incredible details of the square, while listening to the clip-clop of the smartly adorned horses and carts, with their head-dresses of ostentatious feathers, and old fashioned carriages similarly lavishly provided. From there, a stroll through the markets all around the square brought us face to face with some of the specialities of traditional Poland – Oscypek cheese – strong and salty like greek Halloumi, made in the nearby Tatra mountains; the sweet smokey miasma of a suckling pig cooking on a spit; small red chickens carved out of wood, and religious iconography aplenty (for as was soon to become obvious, Kraków is a very Catholic town, a spirituality significantly augmented by the fact that the former Pope John Paul II was bishop and then archbishop of Kraków before his ascendency to the papacy).

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul

IMG_4500 DSC06985 DSC06949 DSC06984 DSC06970 DSC06950 DSC06951 DSC06986 DSC06988

In this vein, we wondered around the old town, taking in more churches (check out the stunning Italianate baroque masterpiece of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, above), more spires and more characterful cobbled streets, before eventually winding down to the Vistula river, from where, in the dying sunshine of the afternoon, we had a picture-perfect view of the Wawek Hill – the centrepiece of Kraków’s historic core, where the old palace of Poland’s kings (Kraków used to be the capital of Poland before the monarchy and government relocated to Warsaw for want of a more central location) and the equally stupendous beauty of the gold-domed copper-topped Wawel Cathedral stand so majestically, poised high over the city for everyone to see.

The Wawel Hill

DSC07028 DSC07009 DSC07027

But we couldn’t stay away from our room with a view for long, and back by the window, gazing over the Rynek Główny I continued to be mesmerised by the beauty of this city – a little box of jewels, ripe to be discovered over the following weekend, a place glinting still in the fading light, as the sunshine sunk away and the floodlights and cafe candles brought even more of a sparkle to this undeniably stunning city.

DSC07097 DSC07094 DSC07128

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: