Cara Jasmine Bradley: Christmas in Krakow
Christmas in Krakow: The words sent fireworks of imagery hurtling through my brain upon booking our winter break, but nothing could have prepared me for the visual opulence that the city presented me with upon arrival. In true replication of a festive fairytale from long ago, I instantaneously became bound to the city, wrapped in a blanket of shimmering fervour. Portraying a classically effortless beauty, Krakow granted me with the gift of pleasantry surprise upon every twist and turn of the city’s timeless cobbled streets.
Within an hour of our arrival, the first flecks of snow had started to dance through the air, waltzing around the Main Square, dusting its grand steeples and turrets with an icing-sugar glaze.
The Main Square was first on our agenda. Nestled under a canopy of twinkling fairy-lights and panoramically shrouded by quirky, pastel coloured buildings and spectacular landmarks, Main Square felt like a magically secret location away from the rest of the world and the mundane. Majestic carriage-pulling horses moved in perfect unity with one another; the rhythmic strikes of their hooves on the cobbles echoing throughout the Old Town.
Every inch of Krakow was tastefully decorated for the Christmas period. Embellished trees dotted the city, glistening in royal blue and decedent silver.
The Christmas markets in Main Square and the Cloth Hall were bustling with merriment, but not uncomfortably crowded. Truth be told, I would have endured crowds and the bitter temperature for the sake of some cranberry-topped freshly grilled Oscypek cheese! (Honestly, if you’re ever in Poland, you absolutely need to try this delicacy!) From the carefully crafted chocolate tools, to the finely painted Nutcracker statures, there is no doubt that Krakow’s Christmas Markets provide a shopping experience with a difference.
Wawel Castle and what lies within its vicinity utterly define the term ‘breathtaking.’
Though the castle walls look imposing enough, you simply have to walk right up into the grounds to unwrap what I would confidentially declare as Krakow’s best kept secret.
The Wawel Cathedral is one of the most incredible buildings I have ever seen. I could have quite easily spent all morning falling deeper under its enchantment, trying to comprehend the intricacy of each turret, spiral and dome.
The Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz, compromises striking, poignant history with a cool, modern vibe. Think wonderful synagogues, splashes of contemporary street art, and a vibrant cafe scene. Speaking of street art… Don’t let Krakow’s olde-worlde charm fool you! Plastered across the city are the funkiest examples of graffiti art. If this kind of thing tickles your fancy amidst exploring Krakow’s more traditional side, I would recommend a trip across the river into Podgorze. Here, you can seek out the ‘Colourful Stairs,’ which pop and burst into view in Kaleidoscope fashion.
The day after the snow fall, Krakow transformed into a veritable winter wonderland of daydream quality. The residue and colours left by the snow illuminated the city and its spotless majesty even more. The sky roared with a startlingly perfect shade of refreshing blue; the most sumptuous backdrop for the likes of Wawel Castle, St Mary’s Basilica, and the Saint Peter and Paul Church. The sight of the sun setting across the tree-lined pathways lining the perimeter of the Castle and the Old Town will forever remain with me. Casting a leaking watercolour rich orange spotlight across the snow capped trees, the show put on by the receding sun left my spine tingling.
Krakow is an enduringly elegant city steeped in rugged tradition, and boasts all that makes Europe and its somewhat sentimental jumble of delightful cobbled cities the most remarkable place on any traveller’s bucket list.