Photo courtesy of Jeremy Barnett
Poland is a country rich with history, and if you can experience it for free—all the better! Here’s a guide to a week of free museums. No need to spend a zloty to experience a wealth of Krakow’s art and history.
Monday: Old Synagogue
24 Szeroka Street in Kazimierz
One of Europe’s most historic Jewish places of worship, the Old Synagogue is located in Krakow’s Jewish district, Kazimierz. It is an extension of the City of Krakow’s Historical Museum, and is considered the quintessential Jewish monument of Krakow. As such, it’s filled with relics of Kazimierz’s past including religious items, historic photos, and documents.
Tuesday: Museum of Municipal Engineering
15 Sw. Wawrzynca Street in Kazimierz
If you’re into gizmos and gadgets, then this museum is for you. The space feels like a virtual time machine into innovations past. Take in the old vehicles and other means of public transportation that date back to the early 1900s and explore technology’s impact on everyday life over the last two centuries.
Wednesday: Tourism Board
There’s a reason they call it “hump” day, folks. Take a break from museum wandering and check out Krakow’s tourism board web site for listings of free events. On the way, pick up a few paczki (pronounced poonch-keys). What a difference a day, and a doughnut, make!
Thursday: Czartoryski Palace Museum
19 Sw. Jana Street in Nowy Swiat
The Czartoryski is Krakow’s treasure trove of exhibitions. Founded in 1796 by Princess Isabella (credited with the motto “The Past to the Future”) the museum is most famous for housing Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Lady With An Ermine” along with Rembrandt’s “Landscape with the Good Samaritan”, and many more artifacts from the 13th to 16th centuries.
Friday: Dom Slaski (aka The Silesian House)
2 Pomorska Street just outside of Nowy Swiat
This museum is free everyday of the week (bonus!), but after all your other museum-hopping, you only have Friday left! First used as a Gestapo police headquarters, the Dom now hosts exhibits about World War II martyrdom and anti-nazi resistance. Admission itself is free, but it’ll cost a little extra if you want to take pictures.
Saturday: City of Krakow History Museum
35 Rynek Glowny in the Old Quarter
A patriotic little building proudly boasting the history of Krakow and its citizens, the History Museum has a compilation of old maps, documents, pictures, and city stamps. Its most appealing feature is a collection of colorful and intricate Krakow Christmas Cribs or szopkas.
Sunday: Archeology and Ethnography Museum
3 Poselska Street in the Old Quarter
Once used as a prison in medieval times, the Archeology and Ethnography Museum is home to the only known representation of a Slovanic deity, a four-faced 8-foot stone idol of Swiatowit. In addition, the museum always has a number of permanent and temporary displays.
Bonus Sunday: Museum of History of Photography
16 Jozefitow Street just outside of Nowy Swiat
Filled with exhibitions of present and past photography, daguerreotypes, cameras, and photo equipment, the Museum of History of Photography is a must-see for the still image artist-at-heart.