A beautiful and history-rich centre for music and art, Krakow is one of Poland’s oldest cities and presents a fascinating location for school trips. With records of its existence as a trading town dating back to 966 CE, it grew in size and influence to become a flourishing city in the ninth century, and was the capital of Poland for a time. It is full of stories, from the legend that it was founded on the cave of a dragon slain by an ancient king, to the memories of the tumultuous 20th century. If your students have been studying the history of Europe, there are few better places to explore the impact that the events playing out across the continent have had on people’s lives. Here are some of the places that should feature on every itinerary.
The Old Town
The perfect place to get started on school trips to Krakow is the Old Town, or Stare Miasto in Polish, where students can soak up the atmosphere and get a feel for the historic features of the city. As the oldest part of Krakow, it offers insight into the beginnings of this fascinating place. Surrounded by a ring of parkland where the city walls and moat used to be, it feels almost like it belongs to another time altogether, and is packed with interesting sights. Wawel Castle, set on a hill overlooking the Vistula River, is considered the highlight, while the impressive 13th century Town Hall Tower, the 14th century cloth hall (known as the Sukiennice), and the many picturesque squares and pretty churches are all interesting in their own right. The Krakow Historical Museum is located here, providing the perfect way to put the sights into context.
The Old Jewish quarter, known locally as Kazimierz, is perfect for school trips: a vibrant neighbourhood packed with cafés, galleries, and interesting shops, creating a lively atmosphere that students will enjoy, alongside plenty of history to keep them informed. The district, originally a town in its own right, was founded in 1335 by its namesake, King Kazimierz Wielki, and over the centuries developed into an important centre of Jewish culture. Its history took a darker turn under Nazi rule, when it was all but destroyed, but in the last few decades it has flourished once more and is now home to the annual Jewish Culture Festival, as well several worthwhile museums.
While on school trips to Krakow, students can also visit one of the most infamous sites in world history, Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp where thousands were killed. Today, the site remains as a memorial, open – along with its attached museum – for visitors to explore, and is considered by many who have seen it to be a chilling but important experience.