Free Krakow sights and museums II
During our stay in Krakow we have seen most museums and sights for free!
All major attractions in Krakow generously provide one day of the week without taking admission fees.
With a little planning ahead, anyone can enjoy Krakow’s museums and other sights without spending money.
Here is my nifty summary timetable with free sights in Krakow.
|MONDAY||Schindler’s Enamel Factory||ul. Lipowa 4||10-11 Every 1st Monday of the month closed|
|Ghetto Eagle Pharmacy||pl. Bohaterów Getta 18||10-14|
|Old Synagogue||ul. Szeroka 24||10-14|
|Wawel Castle||Wawel 5||
9.30-13 from 1 April – 31 October
SUNDAYS 10-16 from 1 November – 31 March
|TUESDAY||Manggha Museum||ul. Marii Konopnickiej 26||10-18|
|Underground Market||Rynek Glowny 1||10-13 Every 1st Tuesday of the month closed|
Museum of Contemporary Art
|ul. Lipowa 4||11-19 Last admission at 18|
|ul. Jagiellonska 15||
1 April – 31 October
1 November – 31 March
|WEDNESDAY||Nowa Huta Communist Workers Suburb Museum||os. Słoneczne 16||10-17|
|House of the Hipolit Family||pl. Mariacki 3||
15-18 from 1 April – 31 October
1 November – 31 March
|THURSDAY||Wawel Cathedral||Wawel 3||
9-17 from 1 April – 30 September
9-16 from 1 October – 30 March
|FRIDAY||scroll down for tips|
|SATURDAY||Krakow Routes of Street Art||ul. Pawia 5||Tour starts at 11 at the Galeria Krakowska|
|SUNDAY||National Museum||al. 3 Maja 1||10-16|
|Jan Matejki House||ul. Floriańska 41||10-16|
|Józef Mehoffer House||ul. Krupnicza 26||10-16|
|Archeological Museum||ul. Senacka 3||10-14|
|EVERYDAY||Amber Museum||ul. św. Jana 2||9-21|
You already know what you can visit on Mondays in Krakow for nought, here is to free sightseeing from Tuesday to Sunday.
TUESDAYS for free in Krakow
~~~ Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha ~ Manggha Museum ~ ul. Marii Konopnickiej 26: from 10-18 ~~~
The view of Wawel Castle is mirrored on the Manggha terrace façade.
The Museum was brought to life by Andrzej Wajda and his wife Krystyna Zachwatowicz.
The exhibition is small but there are some very pretty Japanese crafts – ceramics, Katagami (Japanese paper stencils for dyeing fabrics), kimonos, masks and Noh theatre costumes. The Museum is named after Feliks Jasieński (1861-1929), a Polish art collector and patron, whose nickname was Manggha, due to his extensive Japanese collections of woodblock prints from Japanese artist Hokusai. In 2002 Manggha was visited by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
My favourite piece at the exhibition was a big Japanese ceramics bowl looking like a flower, which in my mind I turned into a wonderful washbasin. I loved the incredibly fine and detailed Katagami stencils. And how The One merged into the exhibition.
BTW If you are the one who always exits through the gift shop, like me, have a peek at the Japanese guidebook on sale for Krakow. Japanese travel guides are just awesome. Full of illustrations for sights, food, restaurants, with clear instructions. I wish Lonely Planet would go all pictures, too.
~~~ Podziemia Rynku ~ Underground Market ~ Rynek Glowny 1: free from 10-13. Every first Tuesday of the month closed ~~~
A fascinating journey to the life of Krakowians in the middle ages.
Before the Main Square turned into a bustling city market and the tourist attraction with its souvenir stands today, it was actually an ancient burial place. Some corpses were found with their hands and feet tied together. A ritual to prevent the souls coming back as vampires!
Rynek Glowny, the Main Market Square. The vast museum is right beneath me! I am standing on an underground cemetery.
The museum route under the Main Market Square leads between stone and brick walls of former trading sites. There is also a preserved stretch of an original mediaeval road which made for a bumpy ride but solid walk. You can see how the surface of the Main Square has risen over the last hundred years.
There is more excitement.
You can also stand on a huge market scale and measure your weight in various ancient units – apparently it took a while until most of the world settled on kilo and grams. The historical objects from the 14th century portray the role of the former capital of Poland, also its significance in the trade routes of the Hanseatic League. I am talking Venetian silk for Krakowian princesses.
~~~ MOCAK Muzeum Sztuki Współczesnej ~ Museum of Contemporary Art ~ ul. Lipowa 4: free from 11-19, last free entry at 6pm ~~~
The exhibition focused on art in crime. It was interesting to listen to an authentic police interrogation audio with a women who had just shot her husband and was being questioned by the officer, so as to admit her deed. The police strategy showing a fine balance of being understanding, at the same time pushing towards her confession.
There is also a corpse to stumble upon and different meanings of tiny tattoo marks on prisoners’ faces to decipher. Yay.
The political focus was to be found in the Art of the Ukrainian Revolution, a temporary exhibition showing the mass protests in Kiev against president Yanukovich, the unexpected deal with Russian president Putin, the clash with security forces and protesting people congregating on the Maidan, the Independence Square in the centre of Kiev. On until the 19.10.2014.
~~~ Muzeum Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego ~ Collegium Maius ~ ul. Jagiellonska 15: free (1 April – 31 October) from 15-18 and (1 November – 31 March) from 14-16. We did not visit but the inner courtyard is said to be very pretty ~~~
WEDNESDAYS for free in Krakow
~~~ Dzieje Nowej Huty ~ Nowa Huta Communist Workers’ Suburb~ os. Słoneczne 16: Museum free from 10-17 but obviously you can walk around the workers’ district any time! ~~~
The workers’ district in Krakow was erected for the workers of Poland’s biggest steel factory in the 1950s. The district has about 200, 000 inhabitants today.
In the 1980s Nowa Huta (New Steelmill) became a place of demonstrations of the Solidarity movement, fought by the Milicja. About 29,000 of the 38,000 workers of the then Lenin Steelworks belonged to the Trade Union Solidarnosc.
At the Museum, you can pick up a free map of the area and see the new exhibition Nowa Huta for a Free and Independent Poland which celebrates the 25th anniversary of independence and first free parliamentary election in 1989. The museum displays big wall pictures of anti-communist activities undertaken in Nowa Huta.
Typically dull and cramped communist concrete blocks was what I pictured, when riding the tram down to Nowa Huta. To my surprise, I really liked the architecture here. This was so very different from the ugly Soviet ‘presents’ standing in my hometown Szczecin. The buildings were not as tall as I imagined and well spaced out, framed by generous alleys and pretty green areas. I would call it an attractive residential district, if it wasn’t for the problems and crime the suburb is facing these days.
The term Holy War actually refers to the intense rivalry between the two Krakow based teams, Wisła and KS Cracovia. Various verbal abuse of hardcore fans (or bored kids) adorn the buildings.
Nowa Huta was designed in the 40s by Polish architect Tadeusz Ptaszycki in idealised socialist aesthetics. Since the style of the Renaissance was generally regarded as the most revered in old Polish architecture, it was to become also Poland’s socialist national form.
Most cultural and residential facilities follow architectural trends of the Renaissance and Classicism, with a serious touch of Russian megalomania. Sadly, in the 70s and 80s Le Corbusier doctrine introduced Plattenbau to Nowa Huta, so further districts are not as monumental.
To get a good first architectural impression, you can start at the socrealist city centre, the runabout at Aleja Roz.
Teatr Ludowy. The Peoples’ Theatre. Houses a modern café.
Many shops are still in communist style. I remember my first childhood culture shock after we returned to Poland for a family reunion in 1990. Cities seemed gloomy, lacking colour and flashy signs, where goods were placed on shelves behind counters, unreachable by clients. Having to ask for toys behind the high counter, with my indecisiveness and a brisk lady handing out toys that were better bought once handed over, was very different to Germany’s toy selling strategies.
We walked around, enjoyed some Awiteks cake and read the Kommunikaty on trees, promoting German washing powder. The strangest thing. Sales last 20 minutes, original products are guaranteed. A peculiarity, many Poles believe that German detergents are better than any other on offer at the supermarket.
~~~ Kamienica Hipolitów ~ House of the Hipolit Family~ pl. Mariacki 3: April to October from 10-17.30 and November to March from 10-16 ~~~
A very ornate merchants house. Originally from the 17th century, it shows Krakowian bourgeois living throughout the ages until the 19th century. Look up, to see the baroque stuccowork of Baltazar Fontana.
Liked pretty pink butterfly pillow.
THURSDAYS for free in Krakow
~~~ Katedra Wawelska ~ Wawel Cathedral on Castle grounds~ Wawel 3: 1 April to 30 September from 9-17 and 1 October to 30 March 9-16~~~
There is the Cathedral Museum, the biggest bell of the country at the golden-domed Sigismund Chapel and the Royal Tombs.
During the (sunny) day I very much recommend a free bike ride through Krakow’s Planty, the beautiful city park, encircling Stare Miasto (Old Town of Krakow). Renting a public bike from one of many rental spots in the city is free for a twenty minute ride!
If you go one full circle, about 4km, you will eventually pass the Barbakan (Krakow’s fortified gateway into Old Town) and Brama Florianska (famous Gate and Gothic Tower). Enter through the Gate for some picturesque eye candy.
For alternative and definitely the most impressive souvenir shopping in Krakow, walk through the Sukiennice (Krakow’s Cloth Hall on Rynek Główny 1-3). Make sure you buy handmade in Poland, not made in China. And a tip, all around the Rynek and further away, you will find little mobile stands and more shops with similar souvenirs for less Zloty.
Stroll around the Rynek and take in the bustle of the Main Market Square. I spotted this cute old couple looking up St Mary’s church, listening to the legendary Hejnał Mariacki (trumpeter tune) from the lower of the watch towers, played every hour on the hour. The melody abrupt ending is said to commemorate the bugler from Krakow who was shot through his throat by a Tatar archer in 1241 when the Mongols besieged the city.
There is also a brand-sprakling-new sight in Krakow. We made it to the vernissage of the new Cricoteka building. Enjoy the architectural clash between Krakow’s oldest power plant and multifunctional-modern structure. The Cricoteka is an exhibition hall for Tadeusz Kantor’s artistic activity and theatre work. His sculptures, art performances, paintings and stage sets are displayed. Andrzej Wajda and Krystyna Zachwatowicz gave an interview at the opening event.
For an unforgettable horror adventure, I suggest you (try to) make it through Krakow’s Haunted House, the Lost Souls Alley on Florianska 6 (reservation required, tickets are 19 zl). What a freaky Friday! We escaped zombies, a psychopath with a chain saw and chained rooms, only equipped with one old torch. As we were entering the premises screaming people could be heard, then suddenly a door opened and a crying girl ran out. This is not for the fainthearted.
For romantics, engrave your names on a padlock and seal your love forever in Krakow. At the Pilsudski Bridge. Named after Marshall Pilsudski, considered the father of Polish independence in 1918. The oldest existing bridge in Krakow gives nice views on Krakow and the rusty copper coloured Cricoteka.
Always, check out the Karnet (that handy events brochure for Krakow I mentioned) and party in Kazimierz. Go to Plac Nowy and be sucked in by its endless choice of bars, restaurants and clubs. Our favourites were the Alchemia for drinks/dance, Duzy Pokoj for fancy eats, Glonojad and Momo for healthy veggie food.
SATURDAYS for free in Krakow
~~~ Krakowski Szlak Street Artu ~ Krakow Routes of Street Art ~ Galeria Krakowska at ul. Pawia 5~~~
Excursions start at 11 am but require a reservation! To book your trip call +48 12 420 99 00 or register online szlakmurali.mallwallart.com The tour begins at the mural on Galeria Krakowska that won the Mall Wall Art Competition and continues along the streets of Krakow’s most popular districts, Old Town, Kazimierz and Podgorze. 16 murals are shown, painted by artists from Poland, the Netherlands, Israel and Italy. The duration is about 3 hours.
SUNDAYS for free in Krakow
~~~ Muzeum Narodowe Gmach Główny ~ National Museum Main Exhibition ~ al. 3 Maja 1: from 10-16~~~
Here rest some canvasses (and replicas) of my favourite Polish artists. Predictably all from the same time period. If I could time travel this is where I would end up.
Jozef Mehoffer (1869-1946), Jacek Malczewski (1854-1929) , Jozef Pankiewicz (1966-1940).
Because winter is coming. Ferdynand Ruszczyc (1870-1936).
Apart from romantic symbolists, I am also into shoes, bunnies and knights. In the order: The One in Armour, bunny, shoes.
We took it slow on Sunday and missed out on the following three sights. We will be back for sure!
~~~ Dom Jana Matejki ~ Jan Matejki House ~ ul. Floriańska 41: free from 10-16 ~~~
~~~ Dom Józefa Mehoffera ~ Józef Mehoffer House ~ ul. Krupnicza 26: free from 10-16 ~~~
~~~ Muzeum Archeologiczne Gmach Główny i Podziemia ~ Archeological Museum Main Exhibition and Underground ~ ul. Senacka 3: free from 10-14 ~~~
EVERYDAY for free in Krakow
~~~ Muzeum Bursztynu ~ Amber Museum ~ ul. św. Jana 2: free from 9-21 ~~~
I am very much not into stones but amber is the gemstone found in the Baltic region, hence amber jewellery is so popular here and does indeed make for a unique gift.
Enjoy Krakow ❤