Kraków, also spelled Krakow or Cracow, is the 2nd largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland and a popular tourist destination. Its historic centre was inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites as the first of its kind. Situated on the Vistula river (Polish: Wisła) in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates 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 centers. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918, and the capital of Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.
Guest Photographer feature: “Discover Krakow through Szymon Madej’s Eyes.”
A native of Kraków, Szymon “Zbooy” Madej graduated from the Jagiellonian University in 1994 and has been working in IT ever since. He discovered his passion for photography in 1980 and seems to have been faithful to it for the last 30 years, in the meantime passing some of it to his son, Jakub.
Doing panoramic photography on a non-commercial basis allows him to have something he finds invaluable: a complete freedom of choice, be it of subject, composition or mood. He feels equally well when capturing the fleeting moments (recently during the funeral ceremonies of Polish President), and when exploring some dark nooks of an old wooden church. An avid mountain hiker and small town explorer, Szymon always has his panoramic equipment ready, and his greatest rewards are approving comments on his site, panoramy.zbooy.pl.
More about Szymon Madej can be found at: panoramy.zbooy.pl.
The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland’s second most important city. It began as a hamlet on Wawel Hill, and was already being reported as a busy trading center of Slavonic Europe in 965. With the emergence of the Second Polish Republic, and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic center, with the establishment of new universities and cultural venues.
After the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany at the start of World War II, Kraków was turned into the capital of Germany’s General Government. The Jewish population of the city were moved into a walled zone known as the Kraków Ghetto, from which they were sent to extermination camps such as Auschwitz and Płaszów.
In 1978, the same year UNESCO placed Kraków on the list of World Heritage Sites, Karol Wojtyła, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated to the papacy as John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, and the first ever Slavic pope.
Kraków, the unofficial cultural capital of Poland, was named the official European Capital of Culture for the year 2000 by the European Union. It is a major attraction for both local and international tourists, attracting seven million visitors a year.
The main landmarks include the Main Market Square with St. Mary’s Basilica and the Sukiennice Cloth Hall, the Wawel Castle, the National Art Museum, the Zygmunt Bell at the Wawel Cathedral, and the medieval St Florian’s Gate with the Barbican along the Royal Coronation Route.
Kraków has 28 museums and public art galleries. Among them are the main branch of Poland’s National Museum and the Czartoryski Museum, the latter featuring works by Leonardo and Rembrandt.
The city has several famous theatres, including: National Stary Theatre, a.k.a. The Old Theatre, Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, Bagatela Theatre, The Ludowy Theatre, and Groteska Theatre of Puppetry, as well as Opera Krakowska and Kraków Operetta. There is also a concert hall the Kraków Philharmonic (Polish: Filharmonia Krakowska).
Kraków’s historic center, which includes the Old Town, Kazimierz and the Wawel Castle was included in 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. Krakow historic center 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 Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic buildings. Kraków’s palaces, churches, theatres and mansions display great variety of color, architectural details, stained glass, paintings, sculptures, and furnishings.
Kraków hosts many annual and biannual artistic events, some of international significance, such as the Misteria Paschalia (baroque music), Sacrum-Profanum (contemporary music), Cracow Screen Festival (popular music), Festival of Polish Music (classical music), Dedications (theatre), Kraków Film Festival – one of Europe’s oldest events dedicated to short films, Biennial of Graphic Arts, and the Jewish Culture Festival.
It became the residence of two Polish Nobel laureates in literature: Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz; a third Nobel laureate, the Yugoslav writer Ivo Andric also lived and studied in Kraków. Other former residents include famous Polish film directors Andrzej Wajda and Roman Polanski.
More panoramas by Szymon Madej of Krakow can seen in Arounder Krakow.
View Krakow on your iPhone downloading “aroundertouch” or by clicking here: aroundertouch@iTunes app store.