Would you like to see Krakow from a different perspective, not only from street level or in a museum? Fortunately, there are a few places where you can do just that and get a bird’s-eye view of the city, either from a tower or a hill, allowing you to appreciate its uniqueness and beauty even more.
St Mary’s Basilica – Bugle Tower
The higher of the two towers of St Mary’s Basilica, also called the Bugle Tower, is the perfect vantage point for a view of the city, and a huge tourist attraction in itself. Standing at 82 m high, the tower was built on a square plan and then crowned with a Gothic cupola in the 15th century.
The viewing platform, which is located at the height of 56 m, is also the place where, every hour, St Mary’s bugle call (known as the hejnał) is played to the north, south, east and west. The platform is accessible via the annex located on the northern wall of the tower and it offers a great view of the city, with a panorama dominated by the Old Town and the Main Square, in particular. The view from the south and south-west is obscured partly by the second tower, the shorter belfry.
Kościuszko Mound, located on top of Blessed Bronisława Hill, is one of several such mounds dotted around Krakow. They all have their own outstanding sightseeing value, though Kościuszko Mound is particularly special not only on account of its location, but also for important historical reasons. In 1817, the Polish national hero Tadeusz Kościuszko died and he quickly became a cult figure. It was therefore decided to honour him by constructing a mound in his name. Built between 1820 and 1823, it currently stands 35 m high and has a total volume of approximately 167,000 m3. The viewing platform is 330 m above sea level and 131 m above the Vistula River. There are two winding paths leading up to the top of the mound, and when you get there you can enjoy a panorama so vast that you can even see the Tatra Mountains over 100 km away.
Krakus Mound, another of the famous Krakow mounds, is located on Lasota Hill. It is one of the oldest mounds in the city and has a history as interesting as the view it offers. Research conducted on the mound in the 1930s helped to establish that it could date as far back as 500 BC, with artefacts also discovered from other eras (such as a decorative Avaric clasp from the 7thor 8th century). The mound is 16 m high and has a base 57 m wide. It makes for a wonderful vantage point, offering views of Wolski Forest, the Old Town and the districts of Kazimierz and Nowa Huta.
Balloon with a viewing platform
Near Wawel Hill there is a tethered balloon with a viewing platform. Take a ride in the balloon, which goes up to a height of 150 m above the ground, to enjoy a 360° panorama of the city. The view it offers is incredible – covering practically the whole of Krakow and also, from the southern side, the Beskid and Tatra Mountains.
Tower at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Łagiewniki
The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy is located in the southern part of Krakow, in the old village of Łagiewniki. Besides the older part of the complex, which dates from the 19th century and contains St Joseph’s Chapel and the miraculous image of the Merciful Jesus, there is also the famous basilica which was built from 1997 to 2002. Its most characteristic feature is the 77 m tower, with its glazed observation deck. There are 315 stairs leading to the top of the tower, as well as two high-speed lifts, but the climb is definitely made worthwhile by the beautiful views you can enjoy when you get to the top – including Wolski Forest, the Old Town and the districts of Kazimierz and Nowa Huta, while to the south there are the Beskid and Tatra Mountains.
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