Kraków (Polish pronunciation: ?krakuf About this sound listen (help?info)), also Cracow or Krakow (US English /?kr??ka?/, UK English /?kr?ka?/),23 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.4 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 the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1038 to 1569; the Polish?Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 to 1596;5 the Free City of Kraków from 1815 to 1846; the Grand Duchy of Cracow from 1846 to 1918; and Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1998. It has been the capital of Lesser Poland Voivodeship since 1999.
Worth to know
The Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, also known as the Polish Jurassic Highland or Polish Jura (Polish: Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska), is part of the Jurassic System of south?central Poland, stretching between the cities of Kraków, Częstochowa and Wieluń. The Polish Jura borders the Lesser Polish Upland to the north and east, the foothills of the Western Carpathians to the south and the Silesian Upland to the west.
The Polish Jura consists of a hilly landscape with Jurassic limestone rocks, cliffs, valleys and vast limestone formations, featuring some 220 caves. The relief of the upland developed since the Paleogene, under climatic conditions changing considerably. Its main component is a peneplain, crowned by monadnocks, rocky masses that resisted erosion, generated as hard rock on Late Jurassic buildup surrounded by less resistant bedded limestone of the same age.1 The Polish Jura is visited by roughly 400,000 visitors a year. Part of it belongs to the Ojców National Park, the smallest of Poland's twenty national parks, ranking among the most attractive recreational areas of the country.2
What to see in Cracow
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 1978.72 The Stare Miasto is the most prominent example of an old town in the country.73 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 district had survived all cataclysms of the past and retained its original form coming from the medieval times. The Old Town of Kraków is home to about six thousand historic sites and more than two million works of art.74 Its rich variety of heritage architecture includes Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. Kraków's palaces, churches, theatres and mansions display great variety of color, architectural details, stained glass, paintings, sculptures, and furnishings.