Population: 0.75 million
Coordinates (decimal): 50.06°N, 19.96°E
Time Zone: Central European Standard Time
Added by: Piotr
Kraków is the former capital of Poland.
Kraków (IPA: ['krakuf] (helpÂ·info)) or Cracow, also known by its alternative and foreign names, is one of the oldest and largest cities of Poland, with a 2004 population of 780,000 (metropolitan area:1.3 million). This historic city is situated on the Vistula River at the foot of Wawel Hill in the Lesser Poland region. It was the capital of Poland until 1596 and the capital of Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to the year 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.
Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading scientific, cultural and artistic centres of the country. As the former residence of the Polish kings and the former national capital, for many the city remains the spiritual heart of Poland, with a history stretching back over a thousand years. Kraków is also a major centre of local and international tourism, attracting seven million visitors annually.
Krakow lies almost exactly at the intersection of the 50th parallel north latitude and the 20th meridian east longitude. It makes the very center of continental Europe, i.e. roughly halfway between the westernmost Lisbon in Portugal and the easternmost Urals, and equidistant from the Mediterranean and the arctic Barents Seaâ€“800 km (500 miles) east of German Frankfurt, 750 km west of Ukrainian Kiev, 950 km from Florence in Italy and 980 km from Goteborg in Sweden. The 800,000 Krakow is Polandâ€™s third largest city and the unquestioned metropolis of its southern half. The cityâ€™s area of 326.8 sq. km (0.1% of Polandâ€™s territory) spreads on both banks of the Vistula river, c. 219 meters above the sea level on the Malopolska Uplands at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Complex geological structure makes for divers landscapes within the limits of Krakow and in its vicinity. Northwest of the city lies the Krakow-Czestochowa Jura, graced with many-shaped limestone rocks and popular for its â€˜Eagle Nestsâ€™ route linking picturesque ruins of medieval castles. Krakowâ€™s eastern outskirts border on the vast Niepolomice Forest, while the south ones on the scenic Beskid Foothills. The Carpathians stretch still farther to the south, peaking with the Tatra Mountains some hundred kilometers (60 miles) off the city. Also plentiful woods, lakes, and rivers attract hordes of visitors to the Krakow region which remains Polandâ€™s prime tourist destination.
Krakow is a city wrapped in legend, where time flows differently, and where every moment becomes a moment of history. For centuries Krakow was the capital of Poland, the seat of kings, drawing great scholars and artists from the whole world. It is their talents and imagination we must thank for the city's rich legacy of unique historical relics, which reflect the most important trends in European culture.
The renaissance Royal Castle at Wawel, the gothic St Mary's Basilica, the historical trade pavilions of the Cloth Hall, the former separate Jewish city of Kazimierz, and even the Nowa Huta district, absorbed by Krakow together with its socialist-realist, industrial architecture, are all places which make a visit to Krakow extremely worthwhile.
Although the city no longer plays such an important administrative role, for many people, thanks to its rich history, Krakow nevertheless represents a synthesis of all things Polish, connecting tradition with modernity. In the special atmosphere of the beautiful and mysterious streets of the Old Town and Kazimierz you will find everything you need to allow you to escape from everyday life. Galleries full of exhibitions, cafes, pubs and restaurants: all of this is an integral part of any visit to Krakow. And all this is merely a modest part of what we can offer travellers seeking exciting destinations on the world map.
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