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4 day treasure tour: Cracow - Wieliczka - oswiecim - Czestochowa
Cracow is an ancient magic city, offers a wide spectrum of museums, art galleries full of exhibitions, theatres, historic cellars, clubs, cafes & restaurants with live music, is an exciting destination for the travelers on the world map.
Arrival in Cracow, an evening stroll along the Old Town. Welcome dinner in a regional restaurant, overnight stay at a hotel.
Breakfast, guided tour of Cracow: the Main Market Square the place where some legends and many historic events are closely linked, St. Mary’ s Basilica and historical trade pavilions of the Cloth Hall, the Royal Route, Collegium Maius, Wawel Hill with its impressive, renaissance Royal Castle and Cathedral; a walk round the Old Jewish Quarter- Kazimierz. Steven Spilberg came here to shoot "Schindler’s List" a multiple Oscar winner. Kazimierz is also a place especially cherished by lovers of antiques. Free time, dinner in a restaurant, overnight stay at a hotel.
Breakfast, transfer to Wieliczka - a visit to the famous Royal Salt Mine with a numerous underground chambers, chapels and salt sculptures. Half-day excursions to Ojcowski National Park. Visit to Ojców - ruin of XIVth century castle and Lokietek's Cave; Pieskowa Skała - visit to the old Polish kings' castle. Dinner in a regional restaurant with live folk music, overnight stay at a hotel in Kraków.
Breakfast, Departure to Czestochowa. On half way visit to an Auschwitz- Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim, the biggest Nazi concentration camp from the II World War. Transfer to Czestochowa monastery - the most important place for Polish Catholicism. The tour includes the Paulinian’s Hill, the Treasury and the Chapel with the famous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Transfer back to Cracow or air-port. Departure.
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The Royal City of Poland from 1038 to 1596. To this day Cracow is regarded as the spiritual and intellectual center of Poland and the emblem of national identity. Cracow is home to many higher schools, including the oldest Jagiellonian University. Lajkonik a symbol of the city. A fellow in oriental dress rides a wooden horse. A traditional parade is held on the Market Square after the Corpus Christi Feast. Wawel Dragon another symbol of Cracow. A legend has it that the dragon used to live in a cave at the foot of the Wawel Hill.
Seat of Polish dukes and kings; today the most beautiful museum in Poland.
Gothic basilica housing numerous treasures. The Zygmunt Chapel, is a gem of the Renaissance. Above hangs the mighty Zygmunt Bell weighing 8 tons. Cathedral Museum, Wawel.
One of the largest squares in Europe, a quadrangle of 4 ha. Laid out in the Middle Ages, the Grand Square has been for centuries the focal point of life in Cracow.
St. Mary’s Church
A threenave Gothic structure housing one of the largest Gothic altars in Europe, carved in wood by Wit Stwosz. A call is trumpeted every hour from the church’s tower.
The first cloth stalls were erected on the Grand Square in the 13th century. Today they house numeous souvenir shops and, on the first floor, the Gallery of Polish Fine Arts from the 19th century.
Barbican and St. Florian’s Gate
A precious example of medieval defensive architecture.
The oldest university building in Poland. Today it is the Museum of the Jagiellonian University – about 2000 historic instruments used in astronomy, some of them from the time of Copernicus, physics, chemistry, cartography, works of art are displayed. Tyniec Benedictine monastery standing on a limestone rock overlooking the Vistula River, with remnants of the oldest structures from the 11th century.
Erected in the 15th century, this Gothic synagogue is the oldest Jewish house of worship in Poland. ul. Szeroka 24.
A collection of paintings beginning from the 13th century and including the “Lady with an Hermine” by Leonardo da Vinci and the “Landscape with the Good Samaritan” by Rembrandt van Rijk. An armory with a collection of militaria. ul. św. Jana 19.
The main building houses a huge collection of Polish contemporary art since the turn of the 19th century, militaries from Middle Ages on, a gallery of handicrafts, oriental artifacts, a collection of clothing and accessories form the 16th century.
Japanese Center of Art and Technology, established in 1994 to promote the knowledge of Japan.
Another historical municipality in the outskirts of Cracow, Kazimierz, is now one of the city’s most attractive districts. Dotted with old buildings which give a special ambience to the area, Kazimierz was home to the larger part of the Jewish population of Cracow till 1939. Here, we find the famous Remuh Synagogue and the Alte Schule, Poland’s oldest synagogue, today an important museum of the district. Worth a visit is also the Templ founded by the local Association of Progressive Jews and the Wolf Popper synagogue. Kazimierz is one of the major sites where historical monuments and artifacts’ of Christian and Jewish cultures are gathered. Here, both ethnic groups settled centuries ago and left their traces which are still visible today. Every year in June/July, a Festival of Jewish Culture is held in the Kazimierz district, attracting hundreds of performers and thousands of spectators from all over the world. Here, in the labyrinth of the narrow streets of Kazimierz, they can travel into the distant world of a fascinating, once-existing culture.
Europe's oldest salt mine is located in Wieliczka, where 25 million tones of salt have been mined over the last 1,000 years. The mine is in operation to this day. Due to the therapeutic microclimate, exhausted mine shafts are used as sanitarium facilities today. Conferences and balls are also held in the subterranean chambers. There is even an underground restaurant. Unused excavation sites have also been adapted to house a mining museum with objects dating as far back as the 11th century. The caves and several chapels are decorated with numerous salt sculptures. The most unusual site is a 17th century underground church, within which everything is carved from salt – from the chandeliers to the figure of its patron saint, St. King.
Wieliczka at the outskirts of Cracow has been the salt-mining centre since the 13th century. The length of its shafts and tunnels totals 350 kilometres. Besides, there are above 2,000 underground excavating chambers. The salt mine, still in operation, has been included on UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The three upper levels out of the overall 9 are open to tourism. The 4.5 kilometre route extends to a depth of 136 metres below the ground, passing 20 chambers and numerous underground lakes on its way. Many chambers are decorated with intricate salt carvings. In the St Kinga’s Chapel where regular concerts are held, there is an altar carved from salt. The mine museum tells about the history of salt mining. A local curiosity is the sanatorium situated 211 metres below the ground where asthma and bronchitis are treated. While in the environs of Wieliczka, it is also worthwhile visiting the castle (Zamek Żupny) dating from the 14th century with a museum, displaying, among other objects, an interesting collection of old saltcellars.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine in Brief:
Age: over 800 years old
Length of galleries: over 300 kilometres
Tourist route: over 2,000 metres
Visitors: 700,000 per year, from all continents
Unique features: underground lakes, chambers and pits, chapels and sculptures carved in salt rock, wooden bridges and passages
Highlights: the Chapel of the Blessed Kinga, the patron of salt miners, hewn out by hand from solid salt
Underground town: on several levels at depths ranging from 60 to 100 metres. It includes a sanatorium, post office, cinema, restaurant, souvenir shop and concert halls.
Ojców National Park
32-047 Ojcow 9
Ojcow National Park is situated in the southern part of Poland, in Malopolskie Voivodeship, 16 km north of Cracow, on the Cracow-Czestochowa Upland. The Park encompasses valleys of two small rivers: the Pradnik and Saspowka as well as adjacent parts of the Jura Plateau. The Park was established in 1956 over the area of 1,440 ha. Its current area occupies 2,146 ha, out of which 1,528 ha are covered by forests. 251 ha of forests are strictly protected. The Ojcow National Park is the smallest national park in Poland. Beginnings of nature conservation in the area go back to 1924 when, on the initiative of Prof. W. Szafer, the first natural monography of the region was prepared together with plans for nature reserves in the Pradnik and Saspowska valleys.
The Ojców National Park, marked by countless caverns, canyons and curious rock formations resulting from karstic processes. The town of Ojców is situated at the outer edge of Ojców National Park. Gothic castle ruins are a possible stop over.
In Pieskowa Skała, there is a castle dating from the 14th century, subsequently altered in Renaissance style. It shelters an interesting displayof interior furnishings from the 16th -19th centuries. In the vicinitythe famous 18 metre tall limestone pillar known as Hercules’ Club.
Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oświęcim-Brzezinka in Polish)
All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. It was established by the Nazis in the suburbs of the city of Oswiecim which, like other parts of Poland, was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. The name of the city of Oswiecim was changed to Auschwitz, which became the name of the camp as well. June 14, 1940, when the first transport of Polish political prisoner deportees arrived in Auschwitz, is regarded as the date when it began to function. Since 1940 it was the location of a concentration and later of the extermination camp. By January 1945 around 2 million people had been killed here, mostly Jews but also Gypsies, as well as political and war prisoners. The camp was designed to be an organized death factory. Everything was thoroughly put into accounts. On leaving the camp, the SS blew up part of the facilities. The barracks once crammed with prisoners, the torture and execution sites and the rail-tracks leading straight to the camp remained on place to stand witness to this appalling cruelty. Tourists can watch the movie made by the Soviet troops during the camp’s liberation. This memorial site can be visited every day. It was added to UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.
259,000 inhabitants, is the main centre of religious worship in Poland. This is due to the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa known as the Black Madonna. The sanctuary is located in the Pauline monastery on Jasna Góra, which has been a major goal of pilgrimages for centuries. The monastery was founded in 1382. The icon of St Mary with the Child, as the legend has it, was painted by St Luke 13 years after the death of Christ. Very soon it was ascribed miraculous powers. Its strength was also reputedly proven by the fact that monks and Polish soldiers successfully withheld the Swedish 40 day siege in the 17th century. Since that time the monastery on Jasna Góra with the icon of Black Madonna has become the country’s principal religious symbol. The first buildings appeared here in the 15th century. The monastery derives its contemporary shape predominantly from the 17th century.