Krakow and Lesser Poland
Just Krakow itself, as the capital of the region and the most popular Polish cities among tourists, offers so many interesting places, buildings and world class monuments, that it could easily fill up our list right away. But Lesser Poland is much more than just Krakow!
There are plenty cultural, historical and natural attractions scattered throughout the entire region. Charming cities and villages. Castles, mansions, sanctuaries and open-air museums. Two unique slat mines and 9 health spas. 6 national parks, with the Tatrzanski National Park at the forefront, 12 landscape parks and 85 nature reserves. There’s something for everyone!
For many people this absolutely the most interesting, most beautiful and most diverse region of Poland.
The capital of Lesser Poland is a one of a kind place. Here, we will find not only hundreds of wonderful monuments, with the Wawel and the Old Town’s Main Market Square at the forefront, but also marks of the multicultural past in the district of Kazimierz and the socialist realistic architecture in Nowa Huta. Krakow will charm its visitors with the atmosphere – this is the city of students, artists, philosophers and… gourmets.
The Tatrzanski National Park
The Tatra Mountains (or the Snowy Mountains, as they were called many years ago) – the only massif in Poland with an alpine character – can cause admiration and respect. On one hand, they have sharp ridges, steep crags, chimneys and post-glacial boilers, where clouds are swirling, and snow lays on top of the mountain through the entire summer. On the other hand, there are picturesque river valleys and wide meadows, were sheep are still grazing. From the natural point of view, the Tatra Mountains are one of the most precious areas in our country. This caused the decision to not only include the park to the Natura 2000 network, but also to be mentioned by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, which proves the uniqueness of this area in a worldwide scale.
The hometown of John Paul II makes a good impression from the very first moment. Above the spacious market square you can find a magnificent church, surrounded by restored stone houses, while well kept flower beds and flower shop tables encourage visitors to stay a bit longer.
The John Paul II Family Home Museum is located in a stonehouse by 7 Koscielna street. Right next to the market square and the church.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is the oldest salt business in Poland, with its origins dating back to the middle ages. For centuries, this salt mine was the country’s main source of richness and the material foundations of culture – today it is the most frequently visited tourist attraction in Poland. The centuties-old exploitation of the salt deposit has shaped the current spatial layout of the mining excavation. Hidden under the town and situated on 9 floors, it reaches as deep as 327 meters. The underground Wieliczka is almost 300 kilometers of pathways and 3000 chambers. The part that is available for visitors, covers 3,5-kilometer, located at the depth from 64 to 135 meters. Wonderful chapels, charming underground lakes, original machines and tools, remaining traces of mining works give a picture of people fighting with the elements, their work, passions and beliefs. The miners of Wieliczka have left behind dozens of sculptures and reliefs made of salt. After the visit, tourists can relax in a complex of chambers, located 125 meters underground, where you can find souvenir shops, a post office and a miner inn. In the underground of the Wieliczka Salt Mine you can organize conferences, banquets, weddings, New Year’s Eve parties, concerts and sport parties.
Bochnia is a small town with a big lure for tourists – the first Polish mine for ofi the so-called white gold. It began functioning in 1248. So far, the secrets of the Bochnia chambers and caves are mostly discovered by school trips. Grown-ups, who have visited the world-famous Wieliczka, might think that there’s no surprise waiting for them. Meanwhile Bochnia, which might be Wieliczka, sister mine, but is in fact its main rival, has an entirely different look.
The Ojcowski National Park
This is the smallest National Park, when it comes to surface, but it hides an incredible geological, natural and cultural business. The qualities of this area were already noticed in the 19th century, and the reason for that was definitely its close proximity to Krakow. The charming atmosphere of the landscape -the canyons with steep walls, jutting rock needles and groups of inslebergs are all the result of the destructive activity of the water.