A Bit of Krakow HistoryCHAPTER 28: IN WHICH WE HEAR A FIERY TALE
Around the World, Day 28: Krakow, Poland. Like many European cities, Krakow boasts a long history. The earliest known settlement, dating back to the 4th century, was established on Wawel Hill. According to legend, the ruler Krakus built the town, naming it after himself, at the top of this hill immediately over the lair of a powerful dragon. When livestock and young maidens kept disappearing, Krakus invited knights to attempt to slay the dragon in exchange, of course, for his daughter's hand in marriage. In true romantic fashion, all the knights, errant and local, fell to the dragon's fiery power until a local cobbler conceived the solution and baited the dragon with a sulfur-filled sheep, leading to its demise.
|Wawel Castle on Wawel Hill along the Vistula River|
By the year 1000, Krakow had become a center of trade and in 1038 became the seat of the Polish government. Krakow continued to serve as the capital of Poland for almost six centuries and still plays an important role in preserving the national identity. Unlike so many cities in Poland, Krakow was hardly damaged in World War II, and restoration efforts in recent years have been returning many historic buildings to their original glory.
Just north of Wawel Hill, the Old Quarter remains the heart of Krakow. The city's Market Square is said to be the largest in Europe, surrounded this time of year with sidewalk cafes and populated with tourists and locals who like to hang out there. We made the obligatory climb up the old City Hall Tower for a fantastic view of this vibrant public space.
|Town Hall Tower|
|St. Mary's Basilica, Krakow|
|St. Mary's altarpiece (photo from Wikipedia)|
We will wind up our visit to Krakow tomorrow before moving on to our next destination.
More Photos from Today
|Krakow Cathedral on Wawel Hill|
|Flower Vendor at Old Town Square|
|No shortage of horse-drawn carriages around the square|
|Waiting for a fare|
|Old Market Square|