A huge part of Krakow's appeal lies in its culture. With its museums, galleries, churches in Krakow:, orchestras, cinemas, bars, cafes and a huge academic population to keep them all busy, the city very much earned its title of 'European City of Culture' for the year 2000.
Wawel Hill, with its castle and cathedral is a 'mecca' for both Poles and foreign visitors to Krakow, as this where the origins of Poland began. The significance of Wawel derives from both a political and religious aspect, and today is home to Krakow's most popular landmark.
Museums include the main branch of Poland's National Museum, with three floors of art in a somewhat brutal modernist building, and the Czartoryski Museum, whose stunning collection includes Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Lady with an Ermine'.
For the classical music fan, the main venue is the Filharmonia Hall, home to the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic Orchestra in Krakow, as well as a number of smaller ensembles. Other choices include intimate Chopin piano recitals in Dom Polonii on the Main Square and numerous other concerts in churches and smaller halls.
Jazz in Krakow has always been well catered for in, with an annual month-long jazz festival in the summer and clubs such as Harris in the Main Square offering live music seven nights a week.
Although lacking a truly large music venue, in recent years artists such as Jamiroquai, Lenny Kravitz and Celine Dion have played massive outdoor concerts in Krakow, while a diverse collection of other venues offer a wide variety of music styles from experimental to mainstream. Krakow hosts a number of music festivals and art events throughout the year.
As well as modern multiplex cinemas dotted around the city, Krakow boasts the suitably arty Kino Pod Baranami and Ars cinemas in the Old Town, as well as Kino Kijow. These days most foreign films are subtitled in Polish, but children's films are often dubbed. Krakow hosts a variety of film festivals all year round.
For many visitors to Krakow, one of the essentials will be to sample its bar culture. The city is literally teeming with bars and cafes, with particularly high concentrations in Kazimierz and the Old Town. Whether it's a cavernous multi-roomed cellar bar, a Kazimierz legend like Alchemia or Singer, or one of the many modern-themed cocktail bars to be found virtually everywhere, you need never go thirsty. Opening hours can vary quite a bit, with some places calling it a night by 1 or 2 a.m. and with others happy to keep going until the last customer stumbles out.
Cycling Down the Old Town Stre...
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