A royal hill and a Jewish town

Wawel, the seat of kings and bishops, sits on a limestone hill on the Vistula. Wawel cathedral has witnessed the most important religious and state ceremonies and nearly all of Poland’s monarchs are buried in the crypts below. Among the Renaissance castle’s most worthwhile sights are the Royal Chambers, featuring Flemish tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries, and the Crown Treasury, with its 13th-century coronation sword, called Szczerbiec.

Cracow’s Kazimierz district, established in the 14th century by King Kazimierz the Great, used to be a separate town where Christianity and Judaism coexisted for nearly five centuries. Jews began settling in Kazimierz in the late 15th century. At the center of today’s Kazimierz is Szeroka Street, lined with Jewish cafés and restaurants, and the Old Synagogue – Europe’s oldest preserved synagogue and one of its most valuable. Inside is an exposition from the Ethnographic Museum, The History and Culture of Cracow's Jews.