City of Krakow

City of Krakow
  • City of Krakow

Kraków is a city with the rights of a county, located in southern Poland on the Vistula River. It is the second largest city in the country in terms of population and area. The former capital, it served as the coronation city and necropolis of Polish kings. It is the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.

The city is situated at the intersection of several geographical regions: the Sandomierz Basin, the Western Beskids Foothills, and the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland.

Kraków's history as an organized urban center dates back to around the 7th-8th century AD. Today, we can admire remnants of the first inhabitants in the form of two mounds: Krakus and Wanda. The center of power from the beginning was concentrated on Wawel Hill. A pivotal date in the city's history was its location under Magdeburg law on June 5, 1257. This event shaped the current urban layout of the Old Town and the ruler's residence – Wawel. Its position at the crossroads of trade routes: from Ruthenia to Germany and the Czech Republic, from Pomerania to Hungary, Turkey, and the Balkans, allowed Kraków to experience rapid economic growth.

The period of peak development for the then-capital of Poland occurred in the 15th and 16th centuries. During those times – as well as today – Kraków was a city of science and culture. It attracted the greatest artists, whose works we can still admire today: the St. Mary's Altar by Veit Stoss and the arcades at Wawel designed by Bartolomeo Berrecci. The history of Kraków is inextricably linked with the history of the Polish state.

After the golden era came the decline of the Republic's power. The Swedish Deluge, economic downturn, and partitions left a deep mark on the fate of the country and the city. However, its residents never forgot the times of glory. Perhaps this is why Kraków remained a true patriotic stronghold of the nation, and why the First Cadre Company, led by Józef Piłsudski, set out from here, and why the disarming of occupying troops began here on the day of regaining independence.

Today, Kraków is a modern, constantly developing city. A melting pot where the tradition of its residents mixes with student avant-garde. Thanks to its many monuments and well-preserved old buildings, it has not lost its majestic character. Kraków is simply magical.


Kraków in numbers:

- Area: 327 sq km
- Population: over 765,000
- The city has 4 administrative areas: Śródmieście, Krowodrza, Podgórze, Nowa Huta – divided into a total of 18 districts
- Highest elevation: Piłsudski Mound on Sowiniec – 383.6 m above sea level
- Lowest point: the mouth of the Kościelnicki Stream – 187 m above sea level
- Tallest building: Cracovia Business Center – 105 m
- Longest street: Igołomska – 9.5 km
- Oldest university in Poland, and the second oldest in this part of Europe: Jagiellonian University – founded on May 12, 1364

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