Krakow has preserved the largest medieval old town in Poland and one of the biggest in Europe. Visitors can admire dozens churches, palaces, monuments. The sights reflect good and bad periods of the history of Poland. Tourists, who visit Krakow only for one day are able to touch only superficially the richness of the former capital of Poland. Definetely one needs to spend three or more days to get into magnificent atmosphere of Krakow.
First look to the map of the old town points that various parts of the town have different origin. The Wawel Hill with its cathedral and royal palace were the seats of two powers - the Roman Catholic Church and the Court. To the north from the Wawel Hill there is so called Okół. Okół contains the streets Kanonicza and Grodzka, besides temples of St. Andrew and St Giles. Archaeological exclavations proove that Okół was inhabited at least one thousand years ago. Eastern part of the old town is occupied by women Dominican Convent and several tenement houses build along Gródek street. Round shape of the street remains medieval fortress. The fortress was included to the rest of the town in the mid-fourteen century.
Between Okół and Gródek there is Main Market Square and net of streets leaving the Market in right angle. This part of the old town was located by the duke Bolesław the Chastle according to Magdeburg Law in 1257. All parts of the then Kraków: Wawel, Okół, Gródek and Main Market were surrounded by defensive wall and moat in the end of 13th century, the wall marked the dimension of Krakow for another five centuries.
Thinking about contemporary Krakow, willingly visited by tourists, it is worth to mention Florence (Kleparz) and Kazimierz - two former medieval towns, both erected by the king Casimir the Great. First one, Florence is a place related with saint Florian. His relics are deposited in the parish church of the town. Location of Florence took place in 1366, right were given by the king Casimir the Great. Second town, Kazimierz, also was located by the king Casimir (1335), however one hundred fifty years later eastern part of the town was inhabited by Jews. Today this Jewish part of Kazimierz, next to the Main Market and Wawel, is main destination point of most tourists visiting Krakow.
Literature in English:
Duda Eugeniusz, Jewish Cracow. A guide to the Jewish historical buildings and monuments of Cracow, Krakow 2003