View of Krakow's Old Town from the Bell Tower of Wawel Cathedral
Prague was fabulous...if you have not yet seen some of my photos of Prague, see below my four Prague blog postings: March 22, and April 6, 7, & 13.
But...Krakow is the BEST! For centuries Krakow was the capital of Poland and the seat of kings, drawing great scholars and artists from the entire world. What a beautiful, richly historical, cultured, and friendly city!
Bonerowski Palace on the Left Corner
Our hotel, The Bonerowski Palace (http://www.palacbonerowski.pl/), was wonderful . Located in the heart of Krakow in the Old Market Square, the hotel is actually a historic, meticulously restored and richly refurbished manor house from the Middle Ages and is an easy walk to the Renaissance-era Royal Castle at Wawel on the Vistula River, Krakow’s most magnificent cathedrals, and the best shopping, galleries, concerts, museums, and restaurants/cafés.
The gothic St. Mary’s Basilica (site of the recent funeral mass for Poland’s President and First Lady) and the historical trade pavilions of the Cloth Hall (site of the Easter Markets during our visit) were right outside The Bonerowski Palace’s front door. Since Krakow’s Old Town suffered little damage during World War II, the original edifices are still standing and have been or are currently undergoing extensive restorations.
Although foods of many nationalities are served in Krakow, Polish cuisine was our top choice! Our favorite restaurant, where we enjoyed two dinners and a lunch, is Miód Malina (http://www.miodmalina.pl/).This lovely restaurant, located in a 14th century building, was selected last year by CNN for production of a film that will promote healthy Polish foods. The restaurant’s walls are decorated with hand- crafted and beautifully hand-painted rustic wreaths, as well as bunches of dried and fresh flowers, herbs, flax, various corn, and Polish catkins. In the main dining room there is a huge old wood oven in which dumplings, roasts, sizzling ribs, and pork knuckle are prepared according to old Polish recipes. We especially enjoyed their delicious roasted fresh mushrooms, pierogis (cheese & potato or saurkraut & mushroom-filled dumplings), and bigos, a kind of Polish hunters’ stew.
Detail of hand-painted wreath at Miód Malina
My photos below picture some of the highlights of our too short time in this very special city:
• Attending weekday morning mass at St. Mary’s Basilica - the church was FULL!
• Taking a guided historical tour of Wawel Castle and Cathedral
• Shopping in the Easter and flower markets
• Enjoying an early evening lager at a cafe on the Old Town Market Square and hearing the Hejnał Mariacki (a.k.a., the Cracovian Hymn), the hauntingly beautiful trumpet tune played four times consecutively every hour on the hour from the top of the taller of St. Mary's two towers. The tune breaks off in mid-stream, to commemorate the famous 13th century trumpeter, who was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before the Mongol attack on the city. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVQbxXvyG7A)
• An evening string quartet concert at the baroque Church of the Twelve Apostles
Church of the Twelve Apostles
View from our Café of St. Mary's Basilica at Dusk
A Polish Amber Necklace
Detail of Rose, a Krakovian Symbol, on Plaque
A Polish Eagle on St. Mary's Basilica
Flower Market I
Flower Market II
Inside the Wawel Castle Gates
Teddy Bear Shoppe near St. Mary's Basilica