History of Krakow
Krakow (the official name is the Royal Capital City of Krakow) is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Poland. The city is located on the left bank of the Vistula and is the administrative center of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.
The history of modern Krakow begins with a small settlement that existed on the famous Wawel Hill, as historians assume, already in the 6-7th centuries. The founder of the city is the Polish prince Krakus, who, according to local legend, defeated an evil dragon who lived in a cave at the foot of Wawel and terrorized the inhabitants of the surrounding area (though there are several versions of who killed the dragon in Polish folklore, and Krakus is only one of them).
The first written records of Krakow date back to 965. During this period, the city was already one of the leading trade centers in the region and was ruled by the Duke of Bohemia Boleslav I. Around 990, Krakow came under the control of the Polish prince Mieszko I (founder of the Kingdom of Poland from the Piast dynasty). In 1000 the city received the status of a bishopric, and in 1038 it became the capital of Poland and the main residence of Polish kings..
In 1241, during the Mongol-Tatar invasion, the city was almost completely destroyed. By 1257, Krakow was restored and endowed with the Magdeburg Law, thereby receiving a number of significant rights and privileges and, as a result, new opportunities and prospects. In 1259, Krakow again survived the attack of the Mongols, as a result of which it was devastated, but recovered quite quickly. The third attack of the Mongols in 1287 (by this time the city was already well fortified) was successfully repulsed..
The growth and prosperity of the city in the 14th century was largely facilitated by the Polish king Casimir III the Great. In 1364, by decree of Casimir III, the Krakow Academy was founded (today the Jagiellonian University is one of the oldest in Europe). In 1370, Krakow became a member of the Hanseatic League, which undoubtedly had the most favorable effect on the development of crafts and trade..
After the conclusion of the so-called Krevo Union between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1385, which laid the foundation for a long and fruitful Polish-Lithuanian alliance (from 1569 - the Commonwealth) and the Jagiellonian dynasty, Krakow continues to develop and grow rapidly. By the end of the 15th century, Krakow, being the thriving capital of one of the largest and most influential European powers, was also becoming an important center of science and art. The period of the Jagiellonian dynasty (1385-1572) entered the history of Krakow as «golden age». By the end of the 16th century, the importance of Krakow gradually declined and in 1596 the city actually ceded the status of the capital and royal residence to Warsaw, but at the same time remained the place of coronation and resting place of monarchs.
Krakow also stood out as extremely turbulent against the background of general instability, military conflicts and outbreaks of plague. After the third partition in 1795 of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Krakow came under Austrian control, and in 1809 it was conquered by Napoleon and became part of the Duchy of Warsaw. In 1815, by decision of the Congress of Vienna, Krakow was declared «free city», but already in 1846 it returned under Austrian control as the administrative center of the Grand Duchy of Krakow. The Austrian government was quite loyal, and soon actively developing Krakow became the center of the revival of Polish culture. By the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the city was equipped with water supply systems and electrified. In 1910-1915. Krakow and the surrounding suburbs were united into a single administrative unit - Greater Krakow. At the end of the First World War, as a result of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the city of Krakow again became part of Poland..
On September 1, 1939, the Second World War began with an attack on Poland, and on September 6, German troops entered Krakow. The city was liberated only in January 1945. Despite more than five years of occupation, Krakow, unlike Warsaw, was practically not destroyed, having preserved many beautiful architectural monuments to this day..
Today Krakow is a major economic, scientific and cultural center of the country, as well as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The historic center of Krakow is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.