Krakow, Poland is rather like Bruges, Belgium, in that a lot of history bypassed it. For those of us interested in seeing actual old things rather than reconstructions and museum dioramas of old things, this is wonderful. For the people who lived in the cities during those periods of neglect, it wasn’t so wonderful.
The good news is that, unlike Warsaw, the Nazis didn’t level things out of spite, with the Soviets following up just because they were Soviets. Krakow lost its status to Warsaw during the late Middle Ages, much like Bruges, and a lot of things bypassed it. Also unlike Lemberg/L’vov/L’wow/L’viv, it wasn’t in between two armies times three offensives.
Krakow’s not the only place that managed to survive. Several cities in Germany kept their walls, because they didn’t grow enough to justify tearing them down. Then along came tourism and the walls became a commodity instead of a liability. Nördlingen is one that I’d like to go back to, mostly because of the geology. I was not able to convince everyone else to go to the geology museum and park, alas, so we did the city instead. You see, Nördlingen is perfectly round. As is the surrounding valley. The valley is actually a crater, and the town is in the impact point.
But Krakow and other places farther off the tourist path got left out of the development of the late 19th early 20th century, in if fortunate, were not flattened and then rebuilt after 1945. Fortunate for me. I suspect the people then living in the area were glad to miss the flattening and wanted the modernizing and rebuilding (just, not in “Stalin Baroque” or “Khruschev Eclectic” style, please).