Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
Far more than just clubs, bars and restaurants
on 23 August 2009
A bang up-to-date pocket-sized Krakow guide from Time Out. One of the 'Shortlist' series and, like the other full-size Time Out guides, it is compiled by locally based editors and writers - and it shows.
After giving a brief introduction to each area the guide then highlights the best sights and museums, eating and drinking establishments, shopping, nightlife and arts and leisure attractions. Areas away from the 'touristy' Old Town, such as Kazimierz, Wawel, Podgorze and the South of the city, Kleparz and the North and Czarna and the West are given equal billing - making for interesting excursions off the beaten track.
I found the section on Nowa Huta, a communist new town [the name means New Steelworks] built on the outskirts of Krakow at the behest of Stalin himself, particularly interesting. The guide book describes it as "an outpost of dystopian socialism" that was "grafted onto greater Krakow" as a "worker's paradise" - an antidote to what the Soviet authorities saw as liberal, religious, bourgeois Krakow. The guide gives you the numbers of the tram services that can take you there should you wish to go independently and the name of a local tour company specialising in the area should you prefer a tour. Recommended is a visit to "the monument Nova Huta is most proud of: the Arka Pana Church". Apparently, when the town was built the authorities declared that there was no room and no money to build a church. Undeterred the local people built one for themselves, brick by brick, in defiance of the socialist regime. Workers in the town were also amongst the most vocal in the country in their support for the Solidarity movement.
The guide also highlights another memorial to the darker side of recent Polish history - the memorial cross to Katyn outside the St Giles` Church. Not mentioned in either of my other two guidebooks on the city, a simple cross commemorates the thousands of Polish officers murdered by the Soviet Union following the outbreak of the Second World War - the story of which is told in the recent film "Katyn".
This is an invaluable guide for anyone spending a few days [and nights] in this beautiful and fascinating city. Highly recommended.