The Royal Way

Cracow has its Royal Way. Followed in the old times by monarchs, deputies and other eminent guests, today the traditional route is filled with tourists and enthusi¬asts of old Cracow. It begins in the Matejko Square and leads through the Gothic Barbican and Florian Gate into the Main Market Square via the commercial, traffic-free Floriañska Street. Leaving behind the Renaissance facades and attics of the houses surrounding the Market Square, visitors enter Grodzka Street with its neoclassical architecture and the Church of SS Peter and Paul, the first baroque building in Cracow. Following the medieval Kanonicza Street, one eventually reaches Wawel Hill.

The present Matejko Square with its historical St Florian’s Church was originally located within the limits of a separate town called Kleparz. From there started the ceremonial entrance into the royal city of Cracow through the well-guarded Florian Gate. Erected as an additional fortification, the Barbican is a masterpiece of medieval defensive art. None of the three similar constructions preserved in Europe can match its splendour and the perfection of its structure. The Florian Gate was part of a system of defensive walls encircling Cracow. Fragments of the preserved walls are still visible on both sides of the Gate and today serve as an exhibition place for artists and vendors of art works. Trees were planted on the site of the former city walls, creating a beautiful park known as the Planty, an oasis of greenery in the very heart of the city. The Royal Way continues along Grodzka Street passing a number of historical buildings and enters Kanoniczna Street, the most picturesque street in Cracow, leading to Wawel Hill, the former residence of Polish kings.

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