Kraków – Poland, Europe
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow, is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River 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 hubs. 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.
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 centre of Slavonic Europe in 965. With the establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic centre. The city has a population of approximately 760,000 whereas about 8 million people live within a 100 km radius of its main square.
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 was moved into a walled zone known as the Kraków Ghetto, from which they were sent to extermination camps such as Auschwitz and the concentration camp at Płaszów.
In 1978, Karol Wojtyła, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated to the papacy as Pope John Paul II – the first Slavic pope ever, and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Also that year, UNESCO approved the first ever sites for its new World Heritage List, including the entire Old Town in inscribing Cracow’s Historic Centre.
Kraków lies in the southern part of Poland, on the Vistula River, in a valley at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, 219 m (719 ft) above sea level; half way between the Jurassic Rock Upland (Polish: Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska) to the north, and the Tatra Mountains 100 km (62 mi) to the south, constituting the natural border with Slovakia and the Czech Republic; 230 km west from the border with Ukraine. There are five nature reserves in Kraków, with a combined area of ca. 48.6 hectares (120 acres). Due to their ecological value, these areas are legally protected. The western part of the city, along its northern and north-western side, borders an area of international significance known as the Jurassic Bielany-Tyniec refuge. The main motives for the protection of this area include plant and animal wildlife and the area’s geomorphological features and landscape. Another part of the city is located within the ecological ‘corridor’ of the Vistula River valley. This corridor is also assessed as being of international significance as part of the Pan-European ecological network. The city center is situated on the left (northern) bank of the river.
Kraków has an Oceanic climate (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system, one of the easternmost localities in Europe to do so (East of Tarnów, and north of Kielce the January mean dips below −3 °C (27 °F) and thus becomes continental (Dfb) in nature). The city features a temperate climate. Average temperatures in summer range from 18 °C (64 °F) to 19.6 °C (67 °F) and in winter from −2.1 °C (28 °F) to 0 °C (32 °F). The average annual temperature is 8.9 °C (48 °F). In summer temperatures often exceed 25 °C (77 °F), and sometimes even 30 °C (86 °F), while winter drops to −5 °C (23 °F) at night and about 0 °C (32 °F) at day; during very cold nights the temperature drops to −15 °C (5 °F). In view of the fact that Kraków lies near the Tatra Mountains, there is often blowing halny – a foehn wind, when the temperature rises rapidly, and even in winter reaches to 20 °C (68 °F).
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. Major 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 da Vinci and Rembrandt.
Football is one of the most popular sports in the city, and the teams with the largest following are thirteen-time Polish champions Wisła Kraków, and five-time champions Cracovia. Other football clubs include Hutnik Kraków, Wawel Kraków and one-time Polish champion Garbarnia Kraków. There is also the first-league rugby club Juvenia Kraków. Kraków has a number of additional, equally valued sports teams including eight-time Polish ice hockey champions Cracovia Kraków and the twenty-time women’s basketball champions Wisła Kraków.
The Cracovia Marathon, with over a thousand participants from two dozen countries annually, has been held in the city since 2002. Poland’s first F1 racing driver Robert Kubica was born and brought up in Krakow, as was Top 10 ranked womans tennis player Agnieszka Radwańska.
The construction of the new Krakow Arena has started in May 2011. For concerts, indoor athletics, hockey, basketball, futsal. The Arena will be ready in 2013 cost will be 363 million zł Will serve the viewers up to 15 thousand. In the case of concert, when the scene is set on the lower arena, hall can accommodate up to 18 thousand people.