Wawel is the name of a lime hillock situated on the left bank of the Vistula in Cracow. This is a symbolic place of great significance for all Polish people as the Royal Castle and the Cathedral are situated on the Hill. The Royal Cathedral on the Wawel Hill is considered the most important church in Poland - it was the place for Royal coronations and the burial site for Polish kings. It is the most famous necropolis in Poland as not only kings but also many distinguished Poles are interred here.
The Main Market lies in the heart of the Cracow Old Town (listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978). It was designed in 1257, when Cracow was granted Magdeburg Law by the king Boleslaw V the Chase. Measuring 200 x 200 m², it is the largest medieval town square in Europe. The main function of the Market Square was commerce. However, being the centre of the capital city, the Main Square witnessed many historical events and was a place of regal ceremonies.
The Main Square has been the centre of Cracow since the Middle Ages and today it is lively and crowded year-round. Filled with dozens of cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs, it is the place where people meet and entertain themselves. It is also known for its large population of Rock Pigeons, florist stalls and horse-drawn carriages.
The Jagiellonian University (Polish: Uniwersytet Jagielloński) was established in 1364 by the king Casimir the Great. It is the oldest university in Poland and the second oldest university in Central Europe. Throughout the history of the University, thousands of students from all over Poland, from Lithuania, Russia, Hungary, Bohemia, Germany, and Spain have studied there. For several centuries, virtually the entire intellectual elite of Poland was educated at the university. The most known student to study at the University was Nicolaus Copernicus, the Renaissance astronomer and polymath who would revolutionise European ideas about the universe. Today the Jagiellonian University is still ranked as the top Polish university.
Medieval Fortifications of Cracow. Until the 19th century, Cracow had massive medieval city walls. The inner wall was some 2.4 meters wide and 6–7 meters high. Ten meters outside the inner wall was an outer, lower one. The walls were punctuated by defensive towers 10 meters high. In the 19th century — just before they were demolished by the Austrian authorities — there were 47 towers still standing. Now there are only three Gothic towers left in all Cracow: the Carpenters', Haberdashers' and Joiners' Towers, connected to St. Florian's Gate by walls several dozen meters long. The barbican, once connected to the city walls, is another of the few remaining relics of the complex network of fortifications of Cracow.
Cracow is known as the city of churches. The abundance of landmark, historic Roman Catholic churches along with the plenitude of monasteries and convents earned the city a countrywide reputation as the "Northern Rome" in the past. The churches of Cracow comprise over 120 Roman Catholic places of worship, of which over 60 were built in the 20th century.They remain the centers of religious life for the local population and are attended regularly, while some are often crowded on Sundays.
Here you can read about some prominent examples of Cracow churches.
Kazimierz, now called the former Jewish District, was founded as a separate town by King Casimir the Great in 1335 and named after him. In the late 15th century the Jews who had lived in Cracow were expelled to make room for a new campus of the Jagiellonian University, and forced to move to Kazimierz. From then on Kazimierz was divided into two parts – a Christian and a Jewish one. Eventually, Kazimierz became the main spiritual and cultural center of Polish Jewry. For centuries it was a place dotted with churches and synagogues where Poles and Jews lived peacefully side by side.
During the Second World War, the Jews were transferred by the Nazis from Kazimierz to a ghetto in Podgórze, just across the river. Most of them were later killed during the liquidation of the ghetto or in death camps.
The seven synagogues, still existing in Kazimierz, are an outstanding collection of monuments of Jewish sacred architecture unmatched anywhere in Poland (the largest in Europe next to Prague). This unique on the European scale religious complex was prescribed on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites along with the entire city district in 1978, as the first ever.
Kazimierz is also the site where Steven Spielberg shot his famous 'Schindler's List' in 1993.