Welcome to Krakow
The ancient royal city of Kraków is a unique symbol of Polish national identity. Enchantingly picturesque, rich in relics of all epochs, it represents Poland’s thousand-year-long history. Kraków offers many different styles of architecture: unique Romanesque objects, monumental Gothic edifices, and masterpieces by some of the most outstanding architects of the Renaissance and the Baroque. Kraków has always been a centre of Polish culture and learning. Damaged by fires, wars and foreign occupation, it has always revived and continued to fascinate with its beauty.
Krakow became the capital city of Poland in the 11th c. The Royal Castle and the Cathedral on Wawel Hill served as the coronation and burial place of Polish monarchs. The 13th-century layout of the city has been preserved till today; boasting what is still one of the biggest market squares in Europe (200 by 200 meters, or 655 by 655 feet), a Gothic/Renaissance Cloth-hall (Sukiennice) and the Town-hall tower. Parts of the city walls (13-15th c.) are still here, and the entire Old City has been encircled by a green belt called Planty. Poland’s first university, the Jagiellonian, was founded in Kraków in 1364, and Copernicus was one of its students. More universities have appeared here since, and make the old city of Kraków also a city of the young. Krakow’s many past and present celebrities include Karol Wojtyła (the Pope John Paul II), the composer Krzysztof Penderecki, or literary Nobel Prize winners Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska.
Kraków is renowned for its numerous old churches, including the Gothic St. Mary's Church, famous for its magnificent altar. The Wawel Castle, situated on Wawel Hill overlooking the river Vistula, is probably the grandest landmark in Kraków: this Renaissance structure boasts a beautiful arcaded courtyard, magnificent interiors and the famous Flemish tapestries. Earlier and later artworks can be admired in the city’s many museums; Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" is the jewel in the crown.