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Krakow - Poland

Krakow is probably the cheapest country I've visited in Europe. I spent very little, I think less than £50 per day which included meals, nights out and souvenirs. So if you want a cheap weekend break, Krakow or several other destinations in Poland are a good suggestion.

I took my parents with me to celebrate my mums birthday. It wasn't as hard as Berlin as we had organised tours, so I wasn't having to constantly push them to hurry up, I had a tour guide to do that for me.

Overall though Krakow was a beautiful and chilled out little city which I would certainly consider returning to one day.


Wawel Castle

The first UNESCO World Heritage site in the world. Located on Wawel Hill, it's one of the most popular attractions in the city. Along with the cathedral next to it, they are said to be the most important buildings in Poland.

Entry to the Hill and courtyard are free, but admission to the castle is 18 zl, which is less than £4.



Wawel Dragon

The Wawel Dragon is a famous Polish legend, about an evil dragon who lived in a cave in Wawel Hill.

This statue of the dragon is located just by the castle, and every 5 minutes or so he will breathe fire. So wait around a little if you want to see this.

There is a cave nearby known as the Dragons Den which you can explore, although I think it's designed more for children than adults.

The dragon is a symbol of the city, and many dragon souvenirs can be found in the souvenir shops.






St Mary's Basilica

Found just off of the market square is St Mary's Basilica, a brick Gothic church.

The church is one of the grander buildings in Krakow, and the different sized towers add to its uniqueness.

Every hour a trumpet can be heard from the tallest tower. The tune suddenly stops dead, in memory of a trumpeter who was shot dead mid tune in the 13th century.

Entry is free to enter, but as usual when it comes to churches and cathedrals, I didn't take the time to enter.








The Cloth Hall

Situated in the centre of the market square is the Cloth Hall. Centuries ago it was the centre for international trade, mostly trading in textiles, but also salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Nowadays it's filled with various stalls selling all types of souvenirs, so if you're looking to do some souvenir shopping, this is a good place to start. There's a huge variety of objects on sale here.

On the upper floor is the Sukiennice Museum, which houses many Polish paintings and sculptures.

Underneath the Cloth Hall is the Rynek Underground Museum, which details the history of Krakow and the world immediately above you.



Auschwitz

This is probably the most popular attraction when visiting Krakow, and I believe it's something everyone visiting should take the time to see.

You're taken to two camps and taught about the history of the camps whilst visiting some truly horrifying rooms. Horrifying when you are informed of what occurred in them.

Although I knew quite a lot about the atrocities here, there was still a lot I wasn't aware of.


I was a little surprised as it didn't hit me as much as the genocide memorial in Rwanda, but it was still a sombre feeling. I think maybe because I knew very little about the Rwandan Genocide, and the Holocaust is something which is fresh in our minds from what we're taught in schools to what we see in Hollywood movies.

I think the main reason this should be visited is to make people aware of exactly what happened, and to make sure this doesn't happen again. However as I wrote in my Rwanda post, there have been many genocides since, and they still continue to happen. People just aren't always aware.



Wieliczka Salt Mine

After Auschwitz we headed to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Fitting all of this into one day was tiring, but after the sombre morning it was nice to have some feelings of awe instead of sorrow.

Salt was produced here for centuries, however it's now a historical monument, but wow is it impressive. What's so special about a salt mine I hear you ask? Well, apart from exploring the various caverns, 327 meters underground, and actually being able to taste the salt in the walls, there are various detailed statues and carvings made from salt. The highlight of the tour is close to the end when entering the chapel. Almost everything there is made from salt!


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