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Planty Park in Krakow: Everything You Need to Know

    The Planty Park is a verdant belt in the heart of Krakow, standing where the city’s ancient and formidable medieval walls once did. Today, it’s a lush park adorned with flowerbeds and tree-lined avenues, offering an idyllic setting for observing the city’s lively daily life. As you meander along the park’s winding paths, you’ll discover numerous stalls serving a variety of enticing treats, from the traditional obwarzanek to an array of mouthwatering sweets. The park’s tranquil charm is amplified by the sight of gardens and statues that pay homage to the city’s illustrious past.

    While tourists often traverse it without paying much attention, Planty Park holds a special place in the hearts of Krakow’s residents. It’s a pleasure to amble through it peacefully, transitioning from one part of the old town to another. So, indulge in a leisurely stroll and experience firsthand the deep affection the city harbors for this park. Like a ring, it encircles the city, enveloping it in a verdant embrace.

    Planty Park: The Most Famous Public Park in Krakow

    Once upon a time, the Krakow’s Old Town was fortified by majestic and formidable defensive walls. These walls, dating back to the 13th century, formed an intricate network of fortifications, towers, and gates, all encircled by a deep moat. However, as the 19th century dawned, the city’s medieval walls became obsolete. Krakow had grown beyond these walls, leaving the surrounding area neglected, unsanitary, and in a state of disrepair.

    During this era, Krakow was under Austrian rule, and Emperor Franz I of Austria-Hungary decreed the dismantling of the ancient fortifications. The moat was filled with soil, and a garden was created in its place. Regrettably, this hasty demolition obliterated many remnants of the magnificent medieval fortifications. Yet, thanks to the efforts of Professor Feliks Radwański of the Jagiellonian University, the Senate of the Free City of Krakow was persuaded to conserve a section of the ancient fortifications.

    As a result, we can still marvel at the Krakow Barbican and the Florian Gate today, both of which were integral parts of the city’s inner walls. The project for the new gardens was overseen by none other than Feliks Radwański himself. Upon his death, Florian Straszewski took over the reins and continued the work. In no time, the park was adorned with lush lawns and a variety of trees, including poplars, chestnuts, maples, lindens, and even some exotic species. Subsequently, flower beds, hedges, fountains, and ponds were added, further enhancing the park’s beauty.

    Things to Do & See in Krakow’s Planty Park

    Planty Park, a delightful green belt spanning over 20 hectares and 4 km in length, encircles the city of Krakow. It comprises dozens of smaller gardens, each designed in a unique style, interconnected by picturesque avenues and lawns adorned with fountains and statues. A leisurely walk through Planty Park unveils numerous historical buildings.

    An ideal itinerary through Planty Park could start from the Krakow Barbican, dating back to 1499 and once a defensive element of the nearby Florian Gate, located a short walk away. This ancient main entrance to the city from the 13th century marks the start of the Royal Road, winding through the historic center. As you amble along the walkways, you’ll encounter street artists and stalls selling street food, sweets, and the unmissable obwarzanek, a typical donut-shaped bread.

    Venture down Szewska Street, cutting through the park, leading you directly to the bustling Krakow’s Main Market Square, home to numerous restaurants and cafes. A short stroll further reveals the historic Jagiellonian University. Don’t miss the extraordinary Collegium Maius, the university’s oldest building, once frequented by Copernicus. Continuing your journey through Planty Park, you’ll pass by Franciszkańska Street, located opposite the Philharmonic. Here, the Bishop’s Palace and the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi stand in quiet majesty.

    Walking along the ancient walls of the Archaeological Museum, you’ll eventually reach the foot of Wawel Hill, renowned for the Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral. From here, you can enjoy a riverside stroll along the banks of the Vistula River. After exploring the most famous tourist spots, venture into Grodzka Street, which will guide you back to the Main Market Square.

    On the opposite side of the street, the continuation of Planty Park unfolds, although this particular stretch offers less to see. On your return journey to the Barbican, make sure to visit the beautiful Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, a Baroque opera house built at the end of the 19th century and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Krakow’s Historic Center. Behind the theater, pause to admire the splendid medieval Church of the Holy Cross, a Gothic jewel dating back to the early 14th century.

    During your walk, you’ll encounter numerous monuments and statues dedicated to some of Poland’s most illustrious figures. Notably, the statue of Nicolaus Copernicus, located near the Jagiellonian University, commemorates the period the astronomer spent in Krakow when he attended the university. Other notable monuments include those of Florian Straszewski, considered among the founders of Planty Park, the Polish poet Michał Bałucki, known by the pseudonym Elpidon, and Jan Matejko, a renowned Polish painter, depicted sitting within a large frame, all located between the Barbican and the northeast corner of the park.

    Along the east side, at the height of Dominikańska Street, stands a memorial to Narcyz Wiatr, an activist of the popular movement, who was killed in 1945 by the Security Service right in the park, at the exact point where his monument stands today. On the west side, near the Philharmonic, a truly unique fountain dedicated to the Polish composer and pianist Fryderyk Chopin, a work by the artist Maria Jeremy, represents the “Chopin’s Piano”, with eight strings and four hammers, from which water flows.

    How to Visit Planty Park

    Planty Park is open to visitors free of charge, day and night. With no gates or fences, it’s always accessible, crisscrossed by pathways and occasionally intersected by roads that lead into the Old Town. A leisurely walk through the park provides a comprehensive glimpse of the attractions dotting the perimeter of the Old Town.

    To visit the various museums and landmarks you’ll encounter along the way, such as the Barbican, the City Walls, and the Archaeological Museum with its stunning gardens and so on, you’ll need to purchase a ticket for each. However, with the City Pass Krakow Card, you can gain access to them for free.

    A great way to explore the Krakow’s Old Town and Planty Park is participating in one of the Krakow Free Walking Tours, conducted daily in various languages. Remember to book in advance, as these tours are quite popular. Another enjoyable way to discover the park and the old town is by bike. You can rent one and explore the city at your own pace, or join a bike tour to see the most famous attractions.

    Things to Do & See Around Planty Park

    Planty Park is the main gateway to the wonderful Krakow’s Old Town and from here you can easily reach all the main attractions of the city. Check out our must-read list of the Best Things to Do and See in Krakow.

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