A little bit of magic
Cracow is believed to be a place with magical powers. Apparently, a positive force emanates from the chakra found here – a holy stone, one of seven mysterious energy sources placed in different locations around the world. Besides history, art and atmosphere, Cracow also offers visitors entertainment and relaxation. Theatres, cabarets, clubs, cafés, bars, wine cellars and restaurants have something for everyone. International festivals and other events are held either on the Main Market Square or beneath Wawel Castle. In spring, music lovers come here for the Easter Festival of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Music. In August Cracow’s churches resound with the Music in Old Cracow series. In summer the Main Market Square
is a venue for the International Street Theatre Festival, and the district of Kazimierz hosts the Jewish Culture Festival.

Ever lively tradition
Cracow cultivates numerous ancient customs. Every year in June, the Lajkonik, a horse rider dressed in a stylized Tatar costume, dances from the convent of the Norbertine Nuns to the Main Market Square. This figure originates from the time when the city was threatened by the Tatars. Legend has it that during one foray, raftsmen living in Zwierzyniec, near Cracow, entered the enemy camp and killed the khan. The Tatars withdrew from the gates of Cracow, and the joyous victors – with a raftsman dressed as the khan at the front – triumphantly entered the city.

Cracow was awarded the title of European City of Culture in 2000. With a population of nearly one million, it is one of the most frequently visited cities in Poland and considered to be one of the most captivating cities in Europe. Cracow has traditionally been one of the major centres of Polish culture; and continues to remain so, with its great theatres, magnificent museums and art galleries, as well as of innumerable cafés, restaurants and pubs. Cracow has entered the third millennium as one of the best known Polish cities in the world. It is also the most dynamically developing of Polish cities; thanks to recent economic transformation processes in Poland, the position of Cracow in the country as well as on the international market has been systematically growing. This city has become a vibrant centre of scientific, economic and social life. Cracow’s importance is not only due to its impressive historical heritage but also to the fact that it attracts well-educated, creative and enterprising people and has a great human potential. Cracow is an important centre of science and learning: its renowned Jagiellonian University (over 600 years old) is one of the oldest schools in Europe and sixteen other institutions of higher learning offer education to 130,000 students. This city is one of those places in the world where people travel to get familiar with history. Cracow is a city with character and soul, where old intermingles with modern, sometimes even with avant-garde. This great historical city offers many opportunities for rest and recreation, with tourist attractions which are unique and nowhere else to be found.

Cracow – the Treasury of World Heritage
Built by many generations of artists living in the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau times, fortunate to survive unscathed the ravages of war, Cracow never fails to attract and amaze millions of tourists. It enchants them with its original historical monuments and works of art. It brings crowds to a variety of concerts and festivals, not to mention the magical atmosphere of its cafés and jazz clubs. Overlooking the city is Wawel Hill, the beating heart of Poland. There proudly stands the Renaissance Royal Castle, housing a collection of countless objects of art and the famous tapestries. The Wawel Cathedral, where Polish kings were crowned and buried, is also the national Pantheon – the burial place for many eminent artists and national leaders. Not far from Wawel Hill is Kazimierz, the area once inhabited by the largest Jewish community in Europe. Today, Kazimierz hosts concerts and exhibitions that display Jewish traditions. Each year in Kazimierz there is a Jewish Culture Festival, featuring artists from all over the world. The many cafés, exotic and quaint, are never empty. In one of them, traditional Jewish dishes are served on Singer sewing machine table tops. The Main Market Square – the largest European society salon – occupies the central part of the Cracow Old Town. Here, languages from all over the world can be heard. The Cracovian hejnał, an hourly bugle call, is played from the tower of St Mary’s Church. The Gothic church, rather austere on the outside, has a very richly ornamented interior with a masterpiece of Gothic art: the high altar carved in wood by Wit Stwosz. In the very centre of the Market Square is the Cloth Hall, the oldest commercial centre in Poland. Here, you can buy souvenirs and folk art products. On the upper floor, you can visit the Gallery of 19th century Polish Painting. The Market Square frequently hosts various parades and performances. On New Year’s Eve thousands of people come here to have a good time and dance under the stars! There are plenty of cafés and restaurants around the Market Square, each in a different style. There are also theatres and art galleries. Basements built in Gothic style create a very special ambience, suitable for jazz clubs and cabarets.