Located in the south of Poland, Krakow is the country's former royal capital and spiritual heart, a centre for science, learning and religion. Unlike Warsaw, Krakow emerged from WWII largely unscathed - it was the HQ of the German governor - and its Old Town is studded with Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance buildings.
The main market square (Rynek Glowny) is one of the finest medieval squares in Europe. Among the sights are St. Mary's Basilica, with its 40ft-high wood-carved polyptych, opened at noon each day; the Cloth Hall; and, of course, Wawel Hill.
Wawel Hill is home to the cathedral where many Polish monarchs are buried, the castle, the Big Ben-sized Zygmunt Bell, and, legend has it, resident dragon, whose den can be visited.
While Krakow may have escaped Warsaw's bombings, the war exacted a heavy toll. Auschwitz camp in Oswiecim is about an hour's drive from Krakow and can be visited; it's a sobering sight. Meanwhile, in the city, Kazimierz, the Old Jewish district, has been revived as a Bohemian quarter.
Flights to Krakow land at John Paul II International, named after Karol Wojtyla, who was archbishop of the city before he was elected pope.
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