This is about a few days in a most wonderful city (Krakow) with excursions to a terrible WW2 past (Auschwitz) and a magnificent salt mine (Wieliczka).
I spent a few hot summer days in Krakow, Poland and its surroundings. Take a look at these photos.
One of the oldest shopping arcades in the world is still very operative. It’s situated right in the middle of the large square called Rynek. A most fascinating place to walk around in. Or eat in one of the many restaurants.
Poland has very devout Christians, Roman catholic that is. And lots of convents and churches. St. Mary’s on the Rynek square is a must on a trip to Krakow.
It may not actually be a defence tower as the entire old city is without protective walls. (Any more) The old inner city is instead encircled by a park, with large trees giving a fine shade on a hot summer’s day. The park makes a perfect walk around town. This gives Krakow a peaceful appearance, as opposed to all the other European towns with high walls circling them.
Well, perhaps not entirely peaceful. The old royal castle with a commanding view over the river is heavily fortified and an interior rich in history.
Krakow has had its ups and downs over the centuries, but World War 2 really put Krakow back on the map, once more. The jewish community was segregated from the rest of the population and had to live in harsh conditions in a ghetto. There is still a market, a few restaurants and a synogogue or two, but few people of that religion live in the city. I strolled through the old district, entered a synagogue and ventured out behind it and found this old cemetery.
The film “Schindler’s List” is famous. Oscar Schindler had his factory here, and although the glorification of him is subject to discussion a visit to the site is a must on anyone’s itinerary in Krakow. The factory has been converted to a museum. A very good museum.
The gigantic Lenin steel works in the outskirts of Krakow with the suburbs built to house steel workers and their families is fascinating. One of communisms biggest show pieces in the fifties, aimed at creating a brand new world of happy workers and families, building a communal future. The huge Lenin statue is of course no longer there, but the entrance to the steel works is, as my picture shows.
Video snapshots from Krakow. The old town is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Read this article.
It is quite easy to find a tour agency taking you the two hour trip out to one of the most terrible concentration camps the world has ever seen. Auschwitz. Actually there were three camps, two of which remain or has been reconstructed as they once were.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was the largest. And hardest. Imagine the trains coming “in nacht und nebel” (in night and fog) loading off hundreds of prisoners, sending some straight to death, others to hard labour. The latter group survived for another four months on average.
The extermination camps at Auschwitz, Poland. Living quarters, barracks, electrified barbed wire fences, railway tracks, gas chamber and crematorium. This is a World Heritage Site, read this article.
Wieliczka salt mine
Tour buses also visit the fascinating old salt mines. Go there!
The Wieliczka salt mine outside Krakow is among the world’s oldest, and most spectacular. It is also on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Read this article.
Find pictures from this visit to Krakow on this link.