Things to Do in Krakow - page 4
Visitors come to the park for its mountains and massifs - the most famous peak being Tri koruny (Three Crowns), standing high at 982 meters above sea level. It is possible to climb to its summit and take in the view from an observation deck, but the most popular way to admire the scenery of the Pieniny National Park is to navigate through the picturesque limestone ravine known as the Dunajec River Gorge. This is one of the most scenic canyons in Europe, with cliffs often as high as 300 meters. The rafting trips, which have been organized in the park since the first half of the 19th century, last two to three hours. Hikers and cyclists will also find interesting trails, totaling 34 kilometers. The fauna and flora is to be seen - around 6500 animal species have been proven to live in the Pieniny, but it is believed that up to 15,000 species actually live in it, along with the hundreds of plant species who thrive in the park.
Located about 10 miles north of Krakow, Ojcow National Park may be the smallest of Poland's national parks, but it offers plenty to see and do. You'll find two river valleys, limestone cliffs, more than 400 caves and the ruins of two castles. The largest cave is the 1,000-foot-deep King Lokietek’s Cave, while the park's impressive rock formations include the Hercules Club, a limestone column standing more than 80 feet high. Ojcow is also very biodiverse, with more than 5,500 species of insects, birds and mammals living here.
Tourist routes marked as red, blue or yellow serve to guide visitors through the park. Highlights include the ruins of a Gothic castle at Ojcow and a Renaissance castle at Pieskowa Skala, as well as the Wladyslaw Szafer Natural Museum. The castle at Pieskowa Skala is also home to a branch of the National Art Collection.
Chocolow is a tiny village sitting on the border with Slovakia in southern Poland with a great view of the surrounding Tatras Mountains. Dating back to the 16th century, the village has long been home to the indigenous Goral people and today represents the most complete survival of a traditional Goral village. As such, it has the feeling of an open air museum, with one main street lined with traditional wooden houses. The houses are protected by the Tatra Museum in nearby Zakopane and cannot be altered. They are also kept in pristine condition, with annual cleaning and polishes. The home at #24 is said to have been made entirely from a single tree, and the home at #75 features a small museum about the 1846 uprising in Chocholow against Austrian rule. The only non-wooden building in town is St. Hyacinth’s Church, a stone Gothic church that was built to replace a wooden one in the 19th century.
Originally opened in 1895 by Jan Michalik, this cave (also known as Jama Michalik) is one of the most famous cafes in Poland. Referred to as a cave because of the lack of windows, it has looked very much the same for the last hundred years and is one of Krakow’s best examples of art nouveau décor. The eclectic interior is a result of Michalik’s policy prior to World War I to accept payment in kind from his customers, many of whom were artists who chose to pay with their art work. The café is also known as the birthplace of the Young Poland artistic movement and the Zielony Balonik (Green Balloon) cabaret, which became a model for other literary cabarets throughout Poland.
For decades a popular haunt of Polish artists, politicians and professors from the nearby Jagiellion University, Michalik’s Cave continues to be frequented by popular writers, artists and academics today. It is also quite popular with tourists, many of whom come in groups for dinner and a folklore show.
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