Kraków: Of Kings, Castles and Pierogi

After a goulash-filled week in Prague, my newfound travel buddy and I decided to make moves.

Three trains, one transportation mishap (we got off one of the trains a stop early, but it worked out!), many cat naps, and seven hours later, Andrée and I made it to Kraków, Poland!

Once the capital of Poland for more than 500 years, Kraków is now a bustling city of nearly 800,000 people and the cultural hub of the country. But Kraków is old—unbelievably old.

Stone tools dating back to 50,000 BCE were found on Wawel Hill, and the city’s name originates from Krakus, a mythical ruler who supposedly slayed the Wawel Dragon. The city was a bustling trade center in 965, and the castle was built in the 1300s.

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As an American whose country’s oldest buildings date back to the 1700s, this kind of history is hard to wrap my head around! All of Europe (and especially Israel) has been blowing me away with the ancient architecture!

The heart of Kraków is the Stare Miasto, or Old Town. Smack in the middle is Rynek Główny, the largest medieval town square in Europe.

Filled with vendors and local craftspeople, the square is surrounded by historic houses, palaces, towers and churches.

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Prague: Bohemian Wonderland

Though Israel was a sunny paradise, I decided to break the cycle of my Tel Aviv lifestyle (beach all day, party all night) and head into Europe.

The cheapest ticket I could find using Skyscanner, my favorite airfare app, was Prague!

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Two of my favorite Prague buildings are located in Old Town Square: the astronomical clock tower and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn.

Both were built in the 1400s, and are impressive feats. The church is a classic example of gothic architecture and dominates the city skyline. The clock is the oldest functioning astronomical clock in the world. Who cares about the latest iPhone?

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The Prague Castle, Pražský hrad, is officially the world’s largest castle and dates back to the ninth century.

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This is a breathtakingly beautiful city. Twice the capital of Europe, the historical capital of Bohemia, and now the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is a city of two million people that feels like the place Belle would call home.

The architecture is an array of styles that span the history of time. Romanesque, baroque, gothic, art nouveau, cubism…it’s everything at once, but it works.

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