10 Facts about Kraków

Nov 16, 2023

Kraków combines interesting history with a lively vibe, serving as the perfect backdrop for the 2024 edition of WETM-IAC.

Keep reading for ten facts that you may not know about the city.

Krakow - UNESCO Gem - WETM-IAC 2024 Conference


Kraków holds the distinction of being the inaugural UNESCO World Heritage Site globally. Recognised for its architectural splendours, UNESCO bestowed the honour upon Kraków’s Old Town, featuring the Wawel Royal Castle, in 1978. This 13th-century merchant town boasts an array of historical houses, palaces, and churches, each adorned with magnificent interiors.

Old city

Boasting a population of 779,966 (as of 2021), it holds the position of the second-most populous city in Poland, with Warsaw claiming the top spot. Renowned for its historical roots, Kraków stands as one of the oldest cities in Poland, boasting remnants dating back to the 7th century.

Kraków held the prestigious title of the capital

Kraków held the prestigious title of the capital

Once the seat of Poland’s power, Kraków held the prestigious title of the capital from 1038 until 1596. Designated as the Royal Capital City of Krakow, it relinquished its status when King Sigismund III Vasa moved the royal court to Warsaw, marking the beginning of Warsaw’s tenure as the capital. Additionally, Kraków served as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918.

Largest medieval European market

Kraków boasts Europe’s largest medieval market square within its Historic Centre, known as Rynek Główny. This 13th-century square is surrounded by historic townhouses and features the iconic Cloth Hall, a Renaissance-era structure rebuilt in 1555. Originally a hub for international trade, today Rynek Główny is a vibrant destination, teeming with cafes, restaurants, and museums in Kraków’s Old Town.

University of Kraków was founded in 1365

The University of Kraków holds the distinction of being the second oldest university in central Europe, with only Oxford preceding it. Among the 750,000 residents in Krakow, a noteworthy 200,000 comprise the student population.

Natural reserves

In Kraków, there are five nature reserves, constituting around 0.14% of the city’s total area. These reserves play a crucial role in legally safeguarding natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Notable examples include the Bielańskie Skałki reserve, preserving a forested area, Bonarka serving as a geological reserve, Panieńskie Skały guarding a Jurassic gorge with limestone outcrops, Skałki Przegorzalskie protecting a rock with xerothermic vegetation, and Skołczanka ensuring the conservation of rare and endangered insect species.
Dragon's den - WETM-IAC 2024 Krakow Conference

Dragon’s Den legend

According to local legend, Krakow was founded on the defeat of a dragon by the mythical King Krakus. A sculpture of the dragon can be found near Wawel Castle, and fire periodically spews from its mouth.

Home to a bell 

Wawel Cathedral is home to the Sigismund Bell, one of the largest bells in Europe. Cast in 1520, it weighs about 13 tons and is rung on special occasions.It claims the title of Poland’s second-heaviest bell, requiring the coordinated effort of 12 bell-ringers to set it in motion. Reserved for special occasions such as religious and national holidays, this cherished bell holds a special place as one of Poland’s national symbols. According to legend, a touch when unobserved might even bring love to the lonely.

Festival hub

Kraków hosts a multitude of festivals, concerts, and cultural events throughout the year, creating an energetic and lively atmosphere that immerses locals and visitors alike in the city’s vibrant spirit.

Scenes from Schindler’s List were filmed in Kraków

Steven Spielberg filmed numerous scenes for his movie “Schindler’s List” in Kraków. The Kazimierz district, historically the Jewish district where the city’s Jewish community resided before the war, served as one notable filming location. Additionally, Straszewskiego 7 stood as another site, chosen by Spielberg as the exterior for Oscar Schindler’s apartment.

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