Easter’s Trip: Krakow, Vienna & Venice (Pt. 1)
(Reading: 6 minutes) / Photography: Ricardo Mendoza & Andrea Ochoa
Special thanks to Salvatore de Mendoza for his great hospitality and for showing us the best of Krakow.
Hi loves! How did you spend these Easter days? I hope enjoyed them! I took a small break to visit some cities for the first time: Krakow, Vienna and Venice. I´ll tell you my experience in each of them!
I’d always wanted to visit Poland, and what could be better than Krakow to get into Polish culture. Before Warsaw, this city was the capital for more than 500 years, so it is full of history and interesting places.
We start our tour in the Market Square, located in the historical center of Krakow. Due to the Easter days, there was a small market with food and Polish products, so we tried some typical dishes from southern Poland: pork knuckle, sausage, grilled potatoes, steamed vegetables and fried cheese with bacon and jam, not without mentioning the hot wine, delicious!
In this square there are two basic points. The first one is the St. Mary Basilica, a gothic church built at the beginning of the 13th century and whose towers have uneven height. A curious thing: every hour, from the highest tower, a trumpeter is observed who touches a bugle in each one of the windows. And the second point, the Main Market or Sukiennice, a Renaissance building that dates back to 1300 and is now a souvenir market, a must!
It is true that Krakow was a medieval city, but it is also true that it was one of the most sensitive points during World War II, hosting one of the most important Jewish ghettos. Therefore, we decided to take a tour right next to the main square, to visit the old Jewish district of Kazmierz.
Along the way we were able to visit the old Synagogue, the Remuh Synagogue, the old cemetery, the memorial and the factory of Schindler (from Steven Spielberg’s film), as well as the Bohaterów Square in Podgorze.
No doubt, the most significant moment was the visit to the Monument of the Chairs, a tribute by Roman Polanski to remind the Jews that they had to leave their homes with their belongings on their backs. And in the same square, is the Pharmacy of the Eagle, the only pharmacy of the ghetto during the occupation and place of refuge of many Jews. Definitely, it is imperative to visit this part of the city, in memory of those Jews who were deprived of their freedom and their life.
The next day, we decided to go to Wawel Castle, which became my favorite spot: being on a hill, you can see one of the best views of the city towards the Vistula River.
Wawel Castle was built to be the residence of the Polish kings and became one of the main centers of Christianity in Poland. That is why the Cathedral of Krakow was built right on the same hill.
In this Cathedral was crowned King Wenceslas II in 1291, who became a milestone the history of Krakow. And something that caught my attention was the mixture of styles of this construction, which is no coincidence: this was rebuilt with Gothic style in the fourteenth century. Also, the wooden fortifications were replaced by a wall of bricks, and the palace was remodeled with Renaissance style, to become the seat of Government of Poland.
After visiting the castle, we walked to the main square to visit some of the most important churches in Krakow: the baroque church of St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as the Basilica of Corpus Christi and the Basilica of St. Florian. Many of these churches have an image of Pope John Paul II – originally from Wadowice, near Krakow -, which means that the Pope officiated mass in them.
Finally, we passed through the Planty Park to get into the Market square. We bought some souvenirs and try some polish food from the previous day. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to take a tour to two very significant places: the salt mines of Wieliczka, as well as the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
I must say that Krakow became one of my favorite cities, not only for its beauty, but for all the history it keeps in each of its streets, churches and facades. Definitely, it is a must to visit it once in a lifetime!
I cannot wait to tell you the second part of my Easter Trip: from Vienna to Venice. Wait for it this next week!