Krakow Guide Books

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How do the Poles see their second city? Well, a new series of guides is exploding stereotypes and treading on the hooves of a few holy cows. A team of impassioned authors has created these superb new pocket books, adding fresh insider perspectives to traditional takes on the city. Krakow comes to life in all its colours. The Bezdroza guides have kicked off their English-language editions with a trio of tempting titles, focusing on the Old Town, the Kazimierz district - with its 700 year Jewish legacy - and Nowa Huta, infamous Soviet ideal town, and in the eyes of the author, Krakow's star attraction! This tremendous trio is sold through Krakow's best bookshops, so keep an eye out for the titles below when you arrive in town, or ORDER them direct from us by just dropping us a line!

Krakow's Old Town: The irrepressible Maciej Miezian is your guide through Cracow's historic heart. Famed for his irreverent wit and original opinions, the author regularly spices up debates on national radio and television. He has an eye for the hidden gem and the illuminating anecdote, and if you're new to Krakow, you could hardly have a better introduction than this. Miezian reveals the haunts of everyone from eccentric Fin-de-Siecle artists to Renaissance sorcerers, bringing a host of characters to life from Krakow's thousand year history. There's a handy chapter on the Wawel Royal Citadel, and Miezian's entertaining insights are always rooted in an impeccable knowledge of the city's history. An ideal companion to any saunter around the Old Town. (156pp).

Krakow's Kazimierz: Once a royal town in its own right, Kazimierz evolved into one of Central Europe's most important centres of Jewish culture, and by the seventeenth century it was known as a 'Jewish Paradise'. Agnieszka Legutko-Olownia, an expert and a local herself, blends dramatic history with contemporary tips on the hip, artistic Kazimierz of today. Taking individual themes as her points of departure, she leads you on several walks though the district, revealing the multicultural beginnings, the baroque heyday, and the tragic experience of World War II. An additional walk explores both the real and the cinematic world of Oskar Schindler, passing by many key spots, including the factory itself, which lies just on the fringe of Kazimierz. The book finishes with an insider's look at the bohemian Kazimierz of today, with the music venues, artistic cafes and exhibition spaces that are helping the district to bloom again. (162pp).

Krakow's Nowa Huta: Maciej Miezian takes up the baton once more. And this time he's on his favourite turf - Nowa Huta. But hang on a moment, I hear you ask. What was that about Nowa Huta being a hated relic of communism, a monstrous blot on the landscape? Well, this 'ideal Soviet city' may have been a loathed 'present' from Stalin, but as far as Miezian is concerned, 'living in Nowa Huta is like driving a Rolls-Royce amongst Trabants'. Has he lost his marbles? As it goes, the times have moved on since the era of Cuban Revolution Avenue, Five Year Plan Avenue and the like. The bald facts remain that Nowa Huta involved some of the supreme architects of the day. Against this monumental backdrop, the author shows us the worker heroes who rose up against their Communist overlords, and a star bishop called Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) who captured the hearts of his flock. Miezian leaves your mind reeling at the vicissitudes of Nowa Huta's short but scintillating history. Central Nowa Huta is now on the World Heritage List, and as Miezian concludes: 'You can hate it, you can be fascinated with it; however, one thing is certain, you cannot remain indifferent to it.' Above all, 'it is worth discovering Nowa Huta for oneself.' (130pp).


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United Kingdom

You can't get these guides in the UK but I found the Nowa Huta one an amazing source of info on Stalin's 'present' to Krakow. Didn't buy all three but would certainly recommend the Nowa Huta one.

Reply Apr 13th, 2007