Krakow is home to the second oldest university in Central Europe

Friday, 18 February 2011 - 08:49 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Architecture, European Union, European Capital of Culture, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  5 minutes

Fortress Wawel © Hstoffels

Fortress Wawel © Hstoffels

Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow, is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River (Polish: Wisła) in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural and artistic life and is one of Poland’s most important economic centres. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596; the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918; and the capital of Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.

The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland’s second most important city. It began as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and was already being reported as a busy trading center of Slavonic Europe in 965. With the establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic center. In 1978, Karol Wojtyła, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated to the papacy as Pope John Paul II – the first Slavic pope, and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Also that year, UNESCO approved the first sites for its World Heritage List, including the entire old town in inscribing Kraków’s Historic Centre.

Fortress Wawel © Hstoffels Juliusz Slowacki Theatre © Jan Mehlich Kamienica Hetmanska i Amadejowska © Cancre Fortress Wawel Courtyard © Leif Arne Storset Rynek © Birczanin Main Railway Station © Hubert Wagula Nicolaus Street © Rj1979 Pomnik Mickiewicza © Jan Mehlich St John Street © Rj1979 Sukiennice Cloth Hall - Main Market Square © WarXboT Wawel from Kopiec Krakusa © RaNo Wisla Krakow © Zwiadowca21 Bishops Palace © Jan Mehlich Collage of views of Cracow © Martimar Collegium Maius © Cancre Collegium Novum © Jan Mehlich Florian Gate © Piotrus Florian Street © Marek013
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Sukiennice Cloth Hall - Main Market Square © WarXboT
Kraków is one of Poland’s most important economic centers, and the economic center of the Lesser Poland region. Following the collapse of communism, the private sector has been growing in Kraków. There are about 20 large multinational companies in Kraków, including Google, Hitachi, IBM, General Electric, Philip Morris, Capgemini, Motorola, and Sabre Holdings, along with other British, German and Scandinavian-based firms. In 2005, Foreign direct investment in Kraków has reached approximately USD 3.5 billion. Krakow has been trying to position itself as Europe’s Silicon Valley based on the large number of local and foreign hi tech companies. Kraków is the second city in Poland (after Warsaw) most often visited by foreigners.

Kraków’s historic center, which includes the Old Town, Kazimierz and the Wawel Castle, was included as the first of its kind on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1978. The Old Town (Polish: Stare Miasto) is the most prominent example of an old town in the country. For many centuries Kraków was the royal capital of Poland, until Sigismund III Vasa relocated the court to Warsaw in 1596. Its rich variety of historic architecture includes Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic buildings. Kraków’s palaces, churches, theatres and mansions display great variety of color, architectural details, stained glass, paintings, sculptures, and furnishings.

Kraków, the unofficial cultural capital of Poland, was named the official European Capital of Culture for the year 2000 by the European Union. It is a major attraction for both local and international tourists, attracting seven million visitors a year. Major landmarks include the Main Market Square with St. Mary’s Basilica and the Sukiennice Cloth Hall, the Wawel Castle, the National Art Museum, the Zygmunt Bell at the Wawel Cathedral, and the medieval St Florian’s Gate with the Barbican along the Royal Coronation Route. Kraków has 28 museums and public art galleries. Among them are the main branch of Poland’s National Museum and the Czartoryski Museum, the latter featuring works by Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt.

To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facepage pages/Twitter accounts. Read more on City of Krakow, Krakow Travel, Krakow Tourist Information, Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, Wikitravel Krakow and Wikipedia Krakow. Learn more about the use of photos.




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