Krakow Trips

The best museums in Krakow


Wawel Castle

Mo 9.30 - 12.00, Tues, Fri 9.30-16.00, Wed, Thurs, Sat 9.30-15, Sun 10.00-15.00
The Wawel Collections are divided into several different exhibitions:


Royal Chambers in the Wawel Castle

Not much remains from original times, but the interiors and architecture themselves are interesting. The two upper floors of the Wawel castle have been restored to their original Renaissance and early-Baroque style. The real jewel of this exhibition are the remaining 136 of the original 356 Flanders tapestries dating from the 16th century, said to be Wawel's most precious collection. Probably the largest such collection in Europe and worth visiting.


The Crown Treasury in the Wawel Castle

Much of the original treasure was sold off or stolen by the time of the partition, the crown itself was melted down and its jewels sold off by the Prussians in 1795. What remains, including rings, crosses, chalices and clocks is displayed here. The most important exhibit is the "Szczerbiec" or Jagged Sword, used in all Royal coronations from 1320.


The Armoury in the Wawel Castle

A collection of serious and fearsome weaponry including swords and spears from the15th-17th centuries. Also includes replicas of banners seized from the Teutonic Knights during the Battle of Grunwald of 1410.


Wawel Cathedral

The spiritual sanctuary of Poland, national monument, and host of most Royal coronations, dethronements and funerals. It is also the final resting place of most Polish monarchs as well as national writers (Mickiewicz, Slowacki) and heroes (Pilsudski). The Cathedral contains works of art and craft of the highest quality: The Sigismund Chapel - an example of some of the finest Renaissance artwork north of the Alps, the Holy Cross Chapel with its unique Byzantine frescoes and works by Veit Stoss, Bartholomeo Berecci, Gianmaria Padovano, Santi Gucci and Bertel Thorvaldsen. The Sigismund Tower contains the magnificent Sigismund Bell, the largest in Poland. The tower also offers superb panoramic views of the city. A visit to the cathedral is an absolute must during your stay in Cracow.

Gallery of the Polish Art, 19th century

A branch of Krakow's National Museum, it is worth a visit for its 19th century masterpieces such as Jan Matejko's the Homage of Prussia and Kościuszko at Racławice, Farewell of an Insurrectionist and Welcome by Artur Grottger, Christmas Eve in Siberia by Jacek Malczewski as well as works by Malczewski, Gierymski and Chełmonski. These examples of national iconography are significantly better appreciated when the historical context is somewhat known, so ask your guide about the historical reference points.

Gallery of the Polish Art, 20th century

al. 3 Maja 1
A further section of Krakow's National Museum housing permanent collections of Polish painting and sculpture from 1890 onwards. Rather large and empty, it does not always exhibit what is best of Krakow's artistic heritage. However, the Młoda Polska (Young Poland) movement is well represented here as well as other famous Polish artists such as Mehoffer, Witkiewicz and Slewiński. There are also several of Wyspiański's window designs for Wawel Cathedral. It is worth checking the listings as it is often the host of some major roving exhibitions.

The Czartoryski Museum

Czartoryski Palace, Św. Jana 19, Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun 10.00-15.30, Wed, Fri 10.00-18.00
This is Poland's oldest museum, said to hold Krakow's finest art collection ranging from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Compiled by the Czartoryski family of legendary art collectors, the collection was moved to Krakow after the confiscation of the family estate after the 1831 Insurrection, in which the family were implicated. The collection has a wide range of works including ancient art, oriental armour, artistic handicrafts and old European paintings. Its most valuable possession is Leonardo da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine and also contains Rembrandt's Landscape with the Good Samaritan and works by Durer and David.

Collegium Maius

Jagiellońska 15 Street; Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri 10.00-14.20, Sat 10.00-13.20
The University Museum and Poland's oldest surviving University building. The museum houses rare astronomic instruments from the 16th century thought to be used by Nicolaus Copernicus. The prize exhibit here is the copper Jagiellonian globe from around 1510, considered the oldest existing globe showing America, marked as "newly discovered lands". The Aula - the grand principal assembly hall is interesting for its Renaissance ceiling and many portraits of benefactors, professors and kings. Visits with guide only.

Historical Museum of Krakow

Krzysztofory Palace, Main Square 35, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun 10.00-17.30,
Exhibits include drawings, armour, medals, old clocks, maps and paintings related to Krakow's history. It also exhibits the Lajkonik costume and Szopki (immaculately detailed and elaborate models of buildings made for competition each year)

The Old Synagogue

Szeroka Street 24, Mo 10.00 - 14.00 Tues - Sun 10.00 - 17.00
Museum of History and Culture of the Krakow Jewry housed in Poland's earliest surviving Jewish religious building. Restored in the Renaissance style after being destroyed by fire as was much of the surrounding area in the 16th century. Contains art, books, manuscripts and religious artifacts relating to Jewish culture and tradition, re-compiled after a pretty thorough Nazi destruction. Includes interesting photographs depicting Jewish martyrdom during WWII. 


The Schindler's Factory

The building of Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik - Schindler's Factory at Lipowa 4 Street. The factory was constructed in the year 1937 as a place designated for production of enamelled and tin wares. It was taken over by a German entrepreneur, Oskar Schindler, in 1939. The factory produced goods for the German army. After reconstruction, since 1943, it also produced canteens, bullet shells and fuses. Polish workers were, in great numbers, substituted by much cheaper Jewish prisoners from the camp in Płaszów.  Their numbers in 1944 estimated 1100 people. When Nazi Germans started liquidating the camps along with the prisoners for fear of the approaching battlefront, Schindler with help of his accountant Itzhak Stern created a list of his workers and members of their families (later referred to as Schindler's List), ransomed the prisoners and transported them to a new factory in Czechoslovakia.

The story of the factory and its owner was described in a novel "Schindler's Ark" by an Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. Later Steven Spielberg based his film "Schinler's List" on this very book.
Today the administrative facilities of the factory house the department of Historical Museum of the City of Kraków with an exhibition "Kraków - the times of occupation 1939 - 1945. Kraków and its inhabitants at the time of the World War II are presented in 45 exposition rooms. The exposition has been divided into several segments dedicated to specific subjects: war in 1939, everyday life of the inhabitants of Kraków during occupation, history of the Kraków's Jews, underground country and stories of people who worked in the factory as well as the story of Schindler himself.

Museum of National Remembrance, The Eagle Pharmacy

pl. Bohaterów Getta 13, Mo 10.00 - 14.00 Tuers, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat 9.30 - 17.00
Exhibits a small but poignant collection of old photographs from the Jewish ghetto in Podgórze and the concentration camp in Płaszów. Located in the "Pharmacy under the eagle" of Tadeusz Pankiewicz, the only Pole not of Jewish descent allowed to remain within the ghetto until its liquidation. The pharmacy was open 24 hours a day providing medical help and acting as a meeting place for the Jewish intelligentsia. He later published his memoirs, translated into several languages, of his eye-witness accounts of the arrests, purges, round-ups, deportations and killing of the Jews.


Rynek Underground

The exhibition “On the trail of Krakow’s European identity” occupies an underground archaeological dig site several metres below the surface of the Main Square. This space, around 4,000 m2, showcases sections of preserved walls and streets, archaeological finds, and early medieval graves. These are supplemented with films and 3D reconstructions that recreate Europe’s largest market square as it once was, and document Krakow’s links with Europe’s major centres of trade, learnings and art.


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