Krakus Mound (Kopiec Kraka in the local lingo) is unquestionably one of the city’s most intriguing landmarks. Located on the outskirts of Krakow, this man-made hill stands at an impressive 16 meters tall and has a rich history that dates back over a thousand years. No one really knows why it’s there or why it was built, though legend has it that the mound was built by the mythical King Krakus, the founder of Krakow, and was constructed to mark his final resting place.
Either way, these days, it’s one of the best spots to watch the sunset in the whole town, with 360-degree views of the skyline. Others come here to find challenging running routes, or to unravel the long, human history of the spot. Let’s take a closer look…
Where is Krakus Mound?
That’s easy. Just as you can see the city from the Krakus Mound, so you can see Krakus Mound from much of the city. Basically, look south from the Old Town or Kazimierz and there it is, looming large. More specifically, the mound is in the area of Podgorze, which is south of the Vistula River. It’s atop a large hill that hits 271 meters above sea level – yep, the climb up can be a challenge!
How to get to Krakus Mound?
If the weather’s okay, we recommend walking to Krakus Mound. The stroll there should take about 50 minutes from the Old Town if you don’t stop. But it goes through some of the most immersive districts of the city en route. First, you’ll pass the Planty Park, the green belt that rings the UNESCO core of the town. Then you’ll enter the hipster area of Kazimierz (a great place for a coffee and a recharge). Finally, you’ll get to see the riverside boulevards, and the area of Stare Podgorze, where there’s even more in the way of cool coffee shops and eateries.
If you’re in a hurry, then you could also:
- Take the tram – The comfiest, and – thanks to Krakow’s infamous traffic – fastest option is usually the tram. Trams 3, 6, 9, 11, 13, and 20 all go here. You’re after the stop called ‘Podgórze SKA’, which is on the main junction just north of the mound.
- Take the bus – All of the buses that go to Wilieczka (the home of Krakow’s famous UNESCO Salt Mines) stop by the Krakus Mound.
- Take the train – There are now light rail services from Krakow Glowny Station to Kraków Podgórze, which is right under the mound. We’re not sure how frequent they are but last time we checked it was like once per hour.
The history of Krakus Mound
Let’s take a step back in time to explore the fascinating history of the Krakus Mound in Krakow. Legend has it that the mound was built by King Krakus, the mythical founder of the city, as his final resting place. However, the true origins of the mound are shrouded in mystery, and historians have been trying to unravel its secrets for centuries.
One theory is that the Krakus Mound was built by ancient pagan tribes as a burial site, and that it was later used as a fortress by the early Slavic people who lived in the area. Another theory suggests that it may have been constructed as a watchtower or a beacon to warn the nearby settlements of invading armies.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding its origins, the Krakus Mound has played a significant role in Krakow’s history. In the 11th century, it was the site of a famous battle between the Polish king Bolesław Chrobry and the invading army of the Holy Roman Empire. Legend has it that Bolesław’s victory was aided by the spirit of King Krakus, who rose from his tomb to help defend the city.
Over the centuries, the Krakus Mound has been the subject of much fascination and speculation. In the 19th century, it was excavated by archaeologists, who uncovered a burial chamber containing the remains of several people, along with some artifacts that dated back to the early Slavic period.
Why visit the Krakus Mound?
Today, the Krakus Mound is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Krakow’s rich cultural heritage. Visitors can climb to the top of the mound and take in the stunning panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside, while pondering the mysteries of this ancient monument.
Here’s a closer look at several reasons we think you might want to add this amazing urban spot to your Krakow itinerary…
- The views – This is the real reason people climb up the Krakus Mound. We’d rate this as one of the top three, if not THE TOP spot to watch sunsets in the city. On a long summer’s day, the evening light here is spectacular. You’ll be able to see the last rays touching the spires of St Mary’s Church back in the Old Town. (We’ve been up there to watch that with a beer plenty of times – that’s not strictly allowed but we’ve also never seen police on the mound. Drink and clink at your own risk folks!)
- To exercise – Those on the hunt for a seriously challenging running spot in Krakow should look no further than Krakus Mound. If you’re staying in the Old Town, you can run the whole length of the riverside paths down from the Wawel Castle to get great views as you go, and then finish off with the thigh-burning ascent of the 271-meter-hill.
- New Podgorski Cemetery – The New Podgorski Cemetery is right behind the Krakus Mound. It was established in 1800 and served as the main burial ground for the Jewish community in Krakow for over a century. The cemetery is known for its ornate tombstones and elaborate monuments, many of which are decorated with intricate carvings and Hebrew inscriptions.
Great hotels near the Krakus Mound
We actually really like the idea of staying on the south side of the river in Krakow. It will take you to an area called Stare Podgorze (Old Podgorze). It’s a bit more off the beaten path than the Old Town and Kazimierz but also really vibrant and local, with good access to nightlife and plenty of cutting-edge restaurants.
These are all hotels in and around that part of town, all of which are within 10-15 minutes’ walk of the Krakus Mound…
- The Bridge Suites ($$-$$$) – We really love these riverside suites. They really channel that noir edge that Krakow oozes and some offer fantastic views of the water. They’re around 10 minutes’ walk from the mound but in a seriously great part of Podgorze.
- Xerion Hotel ($$) – The Xerion Hotel is a retro throwback to the 1950s that has Art Deco suites in the middle of Podgorze. It’s quiet, stylish, and well-rated.
- Qubus Hotel Kraków ($$) – The Qubus might look a little corporate from the outside, but it’s got a whole indoor pool that has views of the river and rooms that are contemporary and clean. The location is great for exploring the mound, Kazimierz, and the old heart of Podgorze.