We enjoyed some truly relaxing walks along the Vistula, the sun in our faces, and just unwound.
The river Vistula
The Vistula, in Polish the Wisla, is the longest river in Poland. It is 1047 km long and it runs through Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland. The Vistula has its source Slesian Beskids, a mountain range in Poland and the Czech Republic. Around the middle of its length, it runs through Krakow and also passes Warsaw. Near Gdansk, it finally flows into the Baltic Sea.
Like many other rivers in Europe, the Vistula is at risk for flooding. During a high water period in Mai 2010, a large area was flooded. In September 2012, however, the Vistula carried only little water and artefacts from centuries ago were revealed that used to be covered by the waters of the river. Marble remains from the castle and the Villa Regia were found in Warsaw. The discoveries show the emblem of the Wasa family of the 17th century.
The Vistula and Krakow
The Vistula runs through Krakow for round about 30 Km. Canals have been built to regulate the flow of the river and to enable bigger ships to pass through ship locks. These regulations are also for flood prevention. Only a few ships sail the Vistula in Krakow. They mainly carry tourists. I was surprised that little boat tours, that are so popular in other cities, are hardly ever offered anywhere in Krakow. Isn’t a cruise on a boat with coffee and cake predestines to attract visitors?
On a walk along the Vistula impressions rich in variety can be gathered. Sacred buildings, industrial plants, bridges in many different shapes. All that can be enjoyed from the green embankments or from one of the restaurant ships. We only walked along a short stretch of the Vistula. But it was the most popular one that can be found on many postcards. For exploring the entire trail along the riverside one of the many bike hiring stations could come in handy.
Right behind the Debniki Bridge lies a sharp river bend after which the visitor gets a view of the hill with the Wawel, the cathedral and the castle. Between the 11th and the 16th century, this used to be the hub of the political and cultural life in Krakow. The king and his royal household and personnel resided in the castle. The dragon cave of Smok Wawelski, now also open to the public, lies beneath it. In front of it: A metal dragon that breathes actual fire!
After passing the next bridge, we saw the Michael’s Church. A very beautiful church. We went onwards on the very pleasantly laid out riverside walk. Another sharp turn later, we came across the Krakowska bridge and into the Jewish District Kazimierz, which adjoins to the embankment. The first few restaurants put their tables out on the riverside walk. They are always packed, the food seems to be that good. Restaurant ships pass the Vistula. We ate a good meal at a reasonable price on one of them. But on we go to a very interesting bridge across the Vistula.
Father Ojca Bernatka Bridge
This fascinating bridge, which crosses the Vistula since September 2010, enthused me. The Father Ojca Bernatka Bridge is split in the middle. One side belongs to the cyclists, the other one is used by pedestrians.
A little art exhibition can be found between the two parts of the bridge.
It is also a bridge for lovebirds. All over the bridge they hung their padlocks with their names and dates engraved. I like this bridge a lot.
There are two more bridges to pass. People are sunbathing at the embankment, cyclists and skates rush past. We finally reached the shopping mall Kazimierz. One of the biggest shopping facilities of the whole town was built on the former grounds of the city’s slaughterhouses. Parts of the slaughter houses were integrated into the new building. We cross the mall. Just on the other side of it is where our AirBnB apartment is.
Do you wish to read a lot more about Krakow? Head over to Barbara’s Blog Barbaralicious where you find a splendid article that helped me a great deal to prepare my trip.