Kraków

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About Poland and Kraków

Poland

Kraków

Before you go for a walk around the City of Kraków you can take Virtual Tour first 🙂

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General info

Kraków (eng. Cracow) lies in the southern part of Poland, on the Vistula River (Polish pronouncition: Wisła), in a valley at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, 219 m above sea level; half way between the Jurassic Rock Upland (Polish: Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska) to the north, and the Tatra Mountains 100 km to the south, constituting the natural border with Slovakia and the Czech Republic; 230 km west from the border with Ukraine.

Kraków is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland dated 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 hubs. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1569; the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 to 1596; the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918; and Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.

The city has a population of approximately 760,000 (metropolitan area 1,395,893) whereas about 8 million people live within a 100 km radius of its main square.

In 1978, Karol Wojtyła, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated to the papacy as Pope John Paul II – the first Slavic pope ever, and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Also that year, UNESCO approved the first ever sites for its new World Heritage List, including the entire Old Town in inscribing Cracow’s Historic Centre.

Etymology

The name of Kraków is traditionally derived from Krakus (Krak, Grakch), the legendary founder of Kraków and a ruler of the tribe of Lechitians (Poles).

The city’s full official name is Stołeczne Królewskie Miasto Kraków – in English „Royal Capital City of Kraków”.

Contemporary foreign names for the city

Kraków is referred to by various names in different languages. The city is known in Czech and Slovak as Krakov, in Hungarian as Krakkó, in Lithuanian as Krokuva, in German as Krakau, in Latin, Spanish and Italian as Cracovia, in French as Cracovie, in Portuguese as Cracóvia and in Russian as Краков. Ukrainian and Yiddish languages refer to it as Krakiv (Краків) and Kroke (קראָקע) respectively. Names of Kraków in different languages are also available.

Historic monuments

Kraków’s historic centre, 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. The whole district is bisected by the Royal Road, the coronation route traversed by the Kings of Poland. The Route begins at St. Florian’s Church outside the northern flank of the old city-walls in the medieval suburb of Kleparz; passes the Barbican of Kraków (Barbakan) built in 1499, and enters Stare Miasto through the Florian Gate. It leads down Floriańska Street through the Main Square, and up Grodzka to Wawel, the former seat of Polish royalty, overlooking the Vistula River. Old Town attracts visitors from all over the World. Kraków historic centre is one of the 13 places in Poland that are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The architectural design of the Old Town had survived all cataclysms of the past and retained its original form coming from the medieval times. The Old Town district of Kraków is home to about six thousand historic sites and more than two million works of art. Its rich variety of historic architecture includes Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings. Kraków’s palaces, churches, theatres, and mansions display great variety of colour, architectural details, stained glass, paintings, sculptures, and furnishings.

Transport

Public transport is based on a fairly dense network of streetcar and bus lines operated by a municipal company, supplemented by a number of private minibus operators. Local trains connect some of the suburbs. The bulk of the city’s historic area has been turned into a pedestrian zone with rickshaws and horse buggies; however, the tramlines run within a three-block radius. The historic means of transportation in the city can be examined at the Museum of Municipal Engineering in the Kazimierz district, with many old trams, cars and busses.

More and more

… about Kraków and the vicinity can be found at Wikipedia.

[Source of information, including most of the pictures – mainly Wikipedia]