Krakow Acclaimed Museums Walking Tour (Self Guided), Krakow

One of the best ways to learn about Krakow is to visit its numerous museums. You will be charmed by Krakow’s sense of history, culture and tradition. Check the list of museums that are popular among tourists and Krakow's friendly locals in this next self-guided tour.
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Krakow Acclaimed Museums Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Krakow Acclaimed Museums Walking Tour
Guide Location: Poland » Krakow (See other walking tours in Krakow)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.3 Km or 3.9 Miles
Author: ellen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Wawel Cathedral's John Paul II Museum
  • Aquarium and Natural History Museum
  • Galicia Jewish Museum
  • Pharmacy "Under the Eagle"
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Manggha
  • National Museum
1
Wawel Cathedral's John Paul II Museum

1) Wawel Cathedral's John Paul II Museum (must see)

Opened in 1978, this museum is a fine example of 14th-century Gothic architecture. It was opened by Pope John Paul II and has pieces of medieval church art on display. There are many precious sculptures, paintings, golden monstrances, old crosses, and fancy reliquaries. Here you will see one of the most precious of things, King Sigismund II August’s ornate sword from the 16th century.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-4pm
2
Aquarium and Natural History Museum

2) Aquarium and Natural History Museum

Located in the center of the Old Town in Krakow, adjacent to the Wawel Castle is the Aquarium and Natural History Museum. Housed in an unusual building, this is a must visit in Krakow. Amidst all the historical buildings in the Old Town, the museum filled with exotic marine life comes as a pleasant surprise.

Together, the Aquarium and National History Museum house over 130 species of exotic fish and marine organisms collected from all over the globe. Apart from that, you can also treat your eyes to some amphibians and reptiles which are rarely sighted. Spread over a massive area of 1600 square meters, the Aquarium is the most exotic of its kind in the whole of Poland.

The exhibits are not only restricted to marine life but you can also find some critically endangered terrestrial species from across the world, safe at home here. The recent addition of an insectarium is sure to get the attention of the little ones if they are not already taken to the animals around.

The woolly rhinoceros is for sure the envy for every natural history museum in the world. It was found in 1929 in a very good state of preservation due to the combination of salt, oil, and clay at the sight. This creature lived in a Palearctic ecozone. It was 12 feet in length and 3 feet tall and had long thick hair. It is considered that this species of rhinoceros is extinct due to the sudden climatic change, the so-called Ice Age.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am–3pm; Sat: 12-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Galicia Jewish Museum

3) Galicia Jewish Museum (must see)

Established in 2004 by Chris Schwarz, The Galicia Jewish Museum takes its visitors through the journey of the Jewish community in Poland. The aim here is to open up the Jewish culture in Kazimierz to those who come and visit.

Through series of photographs and other media collected over the years, the museum helps one understand the blend of the Jewish community in Poland, its impact on the existent culture and lifestyle, as well as events the community has gone through. With a total of five exhibits, the museum ushers its visitors through conflicting emotions of residual anger, sadness, destruction, loss and, finally, resurrection of the community in terms of revival, restoration and preservation.

At the Galicia Jewish Museum, you will not find the regular pre-war photographs, documents and recordings. In fact, the museum strives to be different by portraying the recent past and its aftermath. It also holds educational nights, dance classes and other events that may interest visitors and locals alike. A museum unlike any other in Krakow, it is definitely worth a visit.

Why You Should Visit:
The size is spot on – you will learn a lot (Polish/English texts) without being exhausted. There are also excellent temporary exhibitions on a variety of matters, as well as an excellent bookshop and café.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Pharmacy "Under the Eagle"

4) Pharmacy "Under the Eagle"

From the era rich with art, architecture and heritage to a period of political unrest and turmoil, the past to Krakow is filled with different shades and abundant history. The Pharmacy “Under the Eagle” offers its viewers an insight into a different era and opens different pages of the city’s past.

The Pharmacy belonged to Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a Roman Catholic Polish pharmacist who despite being a non-Jew, chose to stay in the Krakow Ghetto. The Pharmacy worked round the clock, offering the much needed medical help and medicines in the Ghetto. It soon became the most trusted place for Jews to meet, exchange information, letters and most importantly a place to hide from the German raids. The Pharmacy provided things like tranquillizers and sedatives that were administered to babies and toddlers to keep them from making noise during the raids, hair dyes for the old to hide their grey, all this to avoid being sent to death camps. Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff risked their lives to save a number of Jews in the years that the pharmacy was functioning. He is also credited to save the old Torah scrolls that are now preserved in the museum.

Even after the war, the Pharmacy functioned till about 1950’s when the communist took over the city and converted it to a pub. Luckily in 1983, the legendary Pharmacy came into the vigilance of the Krakow Historical Museum and in 2004 with the help of several Polish benefactors and the famous Steven Spielberg, the interiors of the Pharmacy was restored.
5
Ethnographic Museum

5) Ethnographic Museum (must see)

After taking a look at how the elite and rich lived in medieval Krakow, why not sneak a peek at how it was to live like a commoner in the city. The Ethnographic Museum gives its viewers an insight into the lives of the working and peasant class of the 18th and 19th centuries, covering minute aspects like their festivals, day-to-day activities, and clothing. Fast becoming an interesting window into the Polish culture, the museum offers its viewers sights, sounds and tastes of its villages and culture. Not to be missed if you want to dive deeper and have a better understanding of the Polish ethos.

The Ethnographic Museum is rigorously looked after and huge efforts are put in to give an authentic feel to the exhibits. In fact, the museum actually has people from nearby towns and villages chipping in with the decorations and interiors that give it a more genuine feel.

Why You Should Visit:
Although some of the exhibits don't have English labels, overall this is indispensable as a guide to the country.
Cheap tickets (further discounted for seniors & teachers), and you can visit in just one hour.

Tip:
Download the google translate app and use the photo tool to translate the most interesting labels.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-7pm
Free on Sundays
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Manggha

6) Manggha

The Manggha located on the Wawel hill is a museum dedicated to Japanese art, literature and technology. Established in 1994, the Manggha has ever since been a division of the National Museum of Krakow.

Over the years, the Manggha has earned a reputation not only as a museum but also a cultural center. In ways more dynamic than other museums, the objective of Manggha is not just restricted to displaying valuable artifacts of a civilization. Serious efforts are made to educate people and make the Manggha an institute that helps understand and develop art. By means of lectures, artistic courses and classes for people from all walks of life, the Manggha is one place that truly adds a new dimension to the meaning of a museum.

An initiative of Andrzej Wajda and Krystyna Zachwatowicz, the seed for Manggha was, however, sown by Feliks Asienski whose nick name was Manggha. Hailing from a wealthy family of landowners, Feliks earned his reputation as a Polish critic and an art collector. His vast collection of art and craft were mainly from the Far East which he did display in Warsaw, Lviv and Krakow. However, after his death the collection was donated to the National Museum of Krakow which is proudly displayed in the Manggha.

Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
National Museum

7) National Museum (must see)

Home to one of the largest art galleries in the country, the National Museum is a must visit in Krakow. Established in the late 19th century, it was the first national art-collecting institution, now holding some 780,000 art objects, spanning from classical archeology to modern art, with a special focus on Polish painting. The collections are kept in big part in the Main Building where the administrative offices are located, but also in the nine of its divisions around the city.

The Main Building features the newly renovated upper Gallery of the Twentieth Century Polish Art, with most celebrated artwork by Jacek Malczewski, Leon Wyczółkowski, Włodzimierz Tetmajer; an extensive collection of works by Stanisław Wyspiański; and also, works by artists of the interwar and postwar periods: the Polish cubists, expressionists, colorists, the avant-garde of the 1930s, and representatives of New Directions from the 1960s.

Not to be missed are the Museum's decorative arts & crafts, as well as the collection of militaria ranging from 12th to 20th century, including Polish armor from 16th and 17th centuries, Polish sabers, firearms, saddles and caparisons, military uniforms from 18th to 20th century, military orders, medals and distinctions. The Museum holdings also include a collection of Western and Eastern European weapons.

Why You Should Visit:
Quite a collection of collections! Entry prices are reasonable and you can pay for a combined ticket, which allows entry to all exhibitions.

Tip:
Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" is here temporarily and is beautifully displayed, but the Polish exhibits, featuring world-class artists in their own right, are also a great find.
You can use the audio guides at extra cost if you wish so and chill in the café. The museum shop has all you need to buy – books or souvenirs from your visit.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 10am–6pm; Sun: 10am–4pm
Free admission to the permanent exhibit on Sundays
Sight description based on wikipedia

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