Krakow is second largest city in Poland and the country’s main tourist destination, as one of the best-preserved medieval city centres in Europe.
Krakow, the city of almost 800 thousand people, the cultural capital of Poland and the birth - or living-place of many famous Poles. The advantage of Kraków is its convenient geographic location at the crossing of important transportation routes. The city has largely been left intact since the Tartar raids of the 13th century, which accounts for the largely unspoilt Krakow Old Town - now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Laid out in 1257, the Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square) is one of the largest medieval market squares in Europe - as well as a remarkable set piece fronted by elegant façades. It is dominated by the 16th-century Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) which continues to perform its role as a trading centre with lively market stalls and pavement cafés in and around the building. The surrounding lanes of the Stare Miasto (Old Town) are ringed by the Planty, a leafy, linear park that follows the line of the Old Town walls. The voluminous hulk of Wawel Hill, to the south, is home to Wawel Castle, the seat of Polish kings from the 11th to the early 17th century. It was at this location, in 1000 AD, that the bishopric of Cracow was established and the Cathedral remains the spiritual home of Poland.
Every year the City hosts over 2,500 performances and concerts. Kraków is a special place that, like a magnet, attracts the people of culture and art who draw their inspiration from the atmosphere and rich past of the City; it is home, for example, to WisĹ‚awa Szymborska, poet and Nobel Prize Winner, SĹ‚awomir MroĹĽek, writer, Krzysztof Penderecki, composer, Andrzej Wajda, director, Jerzy Nowosielski, painter, drawer and stage designer, and many other well-known and valued artists.
Krakow's Landmarks & Monuments
The city boasts hundreds of historical buildings, from medieval churches to Art Nouveau edifices. Krakow’s most popular ancient monuments are Wawel Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski na Wawelu), Wawel Cathedral (Katedra Wawelska), St. Mary’s church (Kosciol Mariacki), Collegium Maius, Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), Barbican (Barbakan), St. Florian Gate (Brama Florianska), Tyniec Abbey (Opactwo Tynieckie), and Old Synagogue (Stara Boznica).
Entertainment in Krakow
Concerts of classical music, jazz, and pop take place every day in Krakow and especially on weekends there is wide choice of them. The city’s is famed in Poland for its energetic nightlife, courtesy of hundreds of nightclubs. Krakow’s six repertory theaters as well as a plethora of independent companies stage plays in Polish. Krakow Opera Company performs two or three times a week except for the summer break from early July to late September. Ballet and other dance shows usually take place once a week or even less frequently.
The oldest man-made artifacts excavated in Krakow date from early Stone Age, namely the Paleolithic period, some 200,000 years ago. Archeological evidence from ensuing ages proves that the place has been a major regional center since the Neolithic period 6,000 BC. Circa 990 Krakow, then already a thriving city, was incorporated into the emerging Polish state. In 1038 Krakow became the capital of Poland. In 1257 Prince Boleslav the Shy endowed the city with self-government and vital commercial privileges. Krakow formally remained the capital city of the Kingdom of Poland till the turn of the 18th century, but in fact the political center had moved to Warsaw in 1611. In years 1815 to 1846 Krakow constituted, together with its environs, an independent statelet called Krakow Republic, subsequently annexed to the Austrian Empire. By the end of the 19th century Krakow became the center of the Polish national awakening and in 1918 it was Poland’s first city that regained independence from foreign rule.
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