It’s not long since I returned from my trip to Poland and I have to say that I was amazed and the thoughts of this multifaceted country linger with me. During my visit I went to Krakow – the country’s former capital; and Warsaw – the capital of today; and both are equal in beauty and history which makes Poland one of the most fascinating Eastern European destinations.
The Poland that everyone knows today has not a short history but has grown up over hundreds of years with many shifting and life-changing events. The independent Poland of today was under Soviet domination until 1989. Since then it has continually grown and modernized but maintains the unique character, charm and captivating history that has led to this country we know today.
You may know that Krakow is a city that has seen many changes in government. It was the nation’s former capital, and seat of power and monarchy, until the formation of the commonwealth with Lithuania in the 16th century when it was moved to Warsaw for geographic convenience. In the modern age, Poland has taken part in the two World Wars, becoming one of the cities hardest hit cities by Nazi repression during World War II.
On my first day in Krakow I visited the city centre, strolling through the spectacular medieval square – the market square Rynek Główny – where the medieval architecture can really be appreciated. There you will discover the Cloth Market, with its wonderful posts amber and traditional Polish products, the Basilica of Saint Mary and the clock tower of the town hall. A beautiful local legend exists about the trumpeter who plays a traditional Polish tune from the tower of Saint May’s but is cut short at every time. The story tells of an invasion in 1241 where the trumpeter warned the city by playing out the tune. Sadly he was shot in neck which meant it was never finished. As a result, only a few bar of the tune are played every hour ever since.
In the heart of the Old Town you can find the Grand Hotel. A lovely hotel with character and history and that opened its doors in 1887. It has more than 60 rooms, each one with a unique decor and a stunning gold details, antique furniture and beautiful marble. This is complemented by the Mirror Hall popular restaurant, the Cafe Vienna and the exclusive Club & Bar where you can enjoy a variety of Polish and international dishes.
Continuing my journey, taking Grodzka Street from the main square, I was surprised the Wawel Castle on a hill. If you visit it you will have a trip back in time. The castle is built up over centuries with Gothic and Renaissance architecture to form the palaces, a spectacular cathedral, a museum and (to delight of every childhood memory) even a feared dragon cave. There is a monument to the dragon to be found at the foot of the castle and he breathes real fire to market to the hour. On the more serious side, the wonderful “Lady with an Ermine”, one of the prodigious jewels of Leonardo Da Vinci, can also be found.
By Mr. Jones