For many tourists, Kraków is primarily associated with the Market Square, Wawel or Kazimierz. A pity, as the magic of this city goes much further. Podgórze has been gaining more and more recognition for some time now.
Over 100 years ago, this magical district of Kraków was an independent town, then known as the Royal Free City of Podgórze. The dynamically developing area attracted many investors and entrepreneurs, while at the same time being a very good place to live. It was only in 1915 that Podgórze was incorporated into Kraków, and as a result of the Second World War it suffered a lot. Forgotten and avoided for many years, it comes back to life and wants to show you its best.
Heart of the district
The Podgórze Market Square was once a noisy trade place where the roads to Wieliczka, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and Kraków intersected. Today, it is a meeting place for residents, especially the elderly, who chat on benches in the shade of trees and enjoy each other’s company. Its central point is the over 100-year-old St. Joseph’s Church. It is safe to say that its design refers to St. Mary’s Basilica. It is equally beautiful, especially at sunset, when the sky turns pink and blue, and birds begin their crazy flight around the towers in the evening. You can easily get to Rynek Podgórski from Kazimierz district by crossing the famous Father Bernatek Footbridge. It is here that, together with your other half, you can hang a commemorative padlock and throw the key into the Vistula River, which will guarantee you eternal love. When on the footbridge, it is worth paying attention to the sculptures by Jerzy Kędziora, which balance on ropes above your head. The barges on the Vistula River create an idyllic atmosphere. Workshops and fairs are often held on the wooden barge closest to the footbridge.
Traces of history
Cricoteka, the Center for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor, is best visible from the footbridge. Suspended a dozen or so meters above the ground, the rusty-coloured block rests on only two pillars. The building, inspired by the artist’s work, makes an amazing impression. Although the building aroused a lot of controversy during its construction, it is now a characteristic point of Podgórze, blended in with the surrounding area and accepted by the residents. It serves as a museum, and at the same time is the background of many art projects. Heading along Nadwiślańska Street, you will go straight to the Ghetto Heroes Square. During the Second World War, it was the central point of the Jewish ghetto. Were it not for the iron structures of the chairs scattered throughout the square and symbolizing what remained after its liquidation, many people would probably have passed it by without much reflection. It is also a place where the famous “Pod Orłem” Pharmacy, owned by Tadeusz Pankiewicz – the only non-Jewish inhabitant of the ghetto, who provided support and help – is located. In the vicinity of the Ghetto Heroes Square, more precisely at Lwowska and Limanowskiego Streets, you can also find the remains of the ghetto walls. The place is marked by a very difficult history, which is why it is worth to spend here some time to contemplate.
Coffee and culture
Walking down Kącik Street, you will get to the famous the Museum of Contemporary Art MOCAK and the Schindler’s Factory. In the vicinity, there is also the Podgórze Museum, where you can delve into the history of this amazing district in detail. Before visiting these cultural institutions, it is worth getting off the trail a bit to drink the best coffee in Kraków. Every day, “Coffeece” at Przemysłowa Street saves dozens of people with its strong coffee. It is a small, inconspicuous building that those not-in-the-know will probably just pass by. Here, the take away rule prevails, so just grab a coffee and continue your walk to conquer Podgórze.
Once you finish the museum route, catch your breath in Stacja Wisła Park located nearby. It was established quite recently, on the initiative of the inhabitants of Zabłocie, i.e this part of Podgórze. The park was a long-awaited meeting and resting place for the inhabitants of nearby residential estates. Currently, it successfully fulfils its role and enjoys great popularity. Here you can relax on deck-chairs, have picnics, eat Italian pizza or cool off with a cold Aperol. All of this while being surrounded by old trees which, after years of being forgotten in a neglected area, have a chance to participate in the life of the inhabitants of Zabłocie again.
The most beautiful sunset
The icing on the cake of your walk around Podgórze will be a visit to Krakus Mound. It is here that you can admire the panorama of Kraków and enjoy the most beautiful sunsets in the city. A legend related to this place says that the mound was built as the tomb of King Krakus by his two sons. And all this in thanks for the ruler contribution for the city of Kraków, which is why the mound is visible even from the windows of Wawel. Today, it is a popular place for walks. No wonder, as it is a particularly charming corner of Kraków, just like the entirety of Podgórze.