The former Polish capital is perhaps unfairly overshadowed by the history left by the infamous concentration camp. The German camp is of huge cultural and historical significance but certainly isn’t all there is to see in Krakow.
The city has many historical sites covering many eras of the city’s history but it is WWII that is most significant and there is so much for Krakow school tours to see and do in what is a modern, bustling and vibrant city that retains much of its medieval charm and character.
Auschwitz-Birkenau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the first and foremost concentration camps to be memorialised as a museum about the atrocities committed there. The Auschwitz memorial houses over 10,000 historical artefacts, including the personal possessions of the people forced to work there as well as various objects belonging to the SS.
Visitors can take guided tours of the camps preserved remains, including the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau camps with exhibitions offering insight to the day-to-day operations of the camp. The so-called ‘Central Sauna’ and the ruins of the gas chambers are also points of interest visitors can witness on a tour.
Krakow’s Jewish Museum celebrates the lives of Polish Jews throughout history, and commemorates those who were lost in the Holocaust. Set in a refurbished mill in the heart of Kazimierz, the museum is made up of two main exhibits, Traces of Memory: A Contemporary Look at the Jewish Past in Poland and the critically acclaimed An Unfinished Memory: Jewish Heritage and The Holocaust in Eastern Galicia.
As well as walkthroughs of the permanent exhibitions, guided tours of the museum include a look at the temporary and travelling exhibits, collecting intriguing photographs that shed new light on the Jewish past.
Krakow’s bustling Jewish District is a place of deep historical and religious significance, and houses some of the city’s most notable landmarks including the Old Synagogue and Oskar Schindler’s factory. Kazimierz was the home of Krakow’s vibrant Jewish community from the 1300s to WWII, when the area rapidly changed as a result of the Holocaust.
Guided tours of the area take visitors through the historic cobbled streets of Kazimierz to see the old synagogues and cemeteries, as well as several remarkable sites and museums.
Since the end of World War II, Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory has become a world-renowned symbol of resistance against the Nazi occupation of Poland, as depicted in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning biopic Schindler’s List. Schindler’s Factory Museum offers visitors the chance to experience this remarkable story first hand, with interactive multimedia exhibits to bring events that occurred over half a century ago to life.
The museum also features several exhibitions exploring life in Krakow under the Nazi regime, and how the Jewish district of Kazimierz was left abandoned after mass deportations to the anti-Semitic ghetto of Podgorze.
Built at the request of King Casimir III, Wawel Castle has stood by the side of the Vistula River for nearly 700 years and is the focal point of many national legends, myths and fables. Visitors will be able to explore the Royal Apartments and the medieval Crown Treasury, step into the Royal Armory including ancient artefacts such as swords and pieces of armour, and hear the story of the infamous Wawel Dragon in the caves beneath the castle.
Wawel Castle also features intriguing exhibits about the medieval history of Krakow, as well as a vast collection of historical artworks from the Orient.
Wodny Waterpark is one of Krakow's most popular leisure attractions, including a range of slides, swimming pools, spa facilities and water sports for visitors of all ages. Younger guests can appreciate the colourful design of Pirate Island, The Rainbow Path, Alligator Slide and Yellow Serpent while older students in search of a little more adventure can enjoy the Tornado, Salamander, Rapid River and the Wave Pool.
The city is home to 24 educational institutes and over 200,000 students. Other World War II sites of note include the Remah Cemetery, Historical Museum, Square of Remembrance and Kościuszko Mound. Krakow school tours can also visit the Cloth Hall, salt mine, Polish aviation museum as well as the medieval barbican, and Wawel castle, which according to legend sits on top of the sleeping dragon, that the city was formed over.
Krakow Facts - Did you know...
According to legend, Krakow was named after the mythical Krak who built the town over a sleeping dragon
The old town is home to two million works of art
Krakow is a major centre of learning with 24 colleges and universities and over 200,000 students
It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596
Krakow is a UNESCO world heritage site
The city has an annual Dachshund parade
Every hour a bugler plays an unfinished tune at St Mary’s Basilica
Wild bison roam the forests and nature reserves around Krakow
Krakow old town contains 6,000 historic buildings
Wawel castle is the last resting place of many Polish kings
Places to go, people to meet...
Great Krakow Locations
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Krakow Cloth Hall
Polish Aviation Museum
Rynek Underground Exhibition
Square of Remembrance
Historical Museum of Kraków
Armia Krajowa Museum in Kraków
Auschwitz and Birkenau
Famous Krakow Residents
Catherine the Great
Pope John Paul II
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