May 12th, 2014

Krakow – the city of medieval legends

The ancient city, which is inextricably linked with the history of Poland as a state. Krakow is considered to be the cultural capital and pride of the country, and he has always been independent, even during the partitions of Poland, while maintaining their autonomy and national development as a center of culture and art. They say that in many Polish cities there are plenty of attractions and one in Krakow – Krakow itself.

The long history of the city is riddled with all legends, it is closely intertwined heroic fantasy and reality no less heroic, and separated from one another is very difficult. One of the legends that tell of the creation of Krakow, says the founder of the city, Prince Krakow, and his daughter Wanda. Not wanting to become the wife of a German knight, she chose to say goodbye to the life by jumping into the water of the Vistula. Another legend claims that at the foot of Wawel Hill, which was built by the prince's palace, there was a cave that served as a den of evil dragon Smokey. Krak son rescued from the monster countryside, defeating him in a duel.


In world history, the first information about this city appeared in 965: a chronicle of the Arab merchant Ibrahim ibn Jakub there are mentions of Slavs and Rousseau, who came from Krakow to Prague. In 1000 the city became an important center of religious and royal power, began its rapid development, because it is the time has been set Cracow diocese. In 1038 King Casimir refresher proclaimed it the capital of the state. Following this, on the Wawel Hill grew numerous stone buildings and powerful fortifications. Krakow gradually turned into one of the residences of the royal Piast dynasty. As time went on, and in 1241 came to the walls of Wawel Tatars, who wiped out many villages. Hurt, of course, the city itself. Bashful Boleslav, who was then the Cracow throne, ordered the building, and in 1257 was made extant plan of the medieval city. It provided for the creation of Europe's largest central market square (a square with sides 200 meters). Around it were a network, staggered, located street.

Position of the city of kings and the state capital in Cracow was fixed after 1320 in the Wawel Cathedral of the first coronation – the King of Poland was Prince Vladislav Loketek. The last representative of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370), all the forces contributed to the initiation of the city to the Western European culture. In that period, in 1364, was founded by the famous Jagiellonian University, soon to become one of the most important and most influential universities in Europe. He has given the world many great scientists, among which the most famous Nicolaus Copernicus.

In XIII-XV centuries around Krakow were built massive stone walls. Defensive ring included 47 towers. Unfortunately, up to now "survived" only four of them. Recently representatives of the Piast dynasty and the first Jagiellonians in XIV-XV centuries in Krakow organized an extensive building in the Gothic style. It began with the Wawel Castle, where they were built a new Cathedral and the Royal Castle. Contemporaries regarded them almost the finest in this part of Europe. The city had built a town hall, university building, many burghers' houses.

In 1335 in the neighborhood of Kazimierz Krakow city grew, and in 1364 received city rights and planted Kleparz (now the districts of Krakow). At the same time in the capital appeared many monumental churches, one of which, St. Mary's, is still not only a magnificent specimen of ancient architecture, but also an important link in the spiritual life of the citizens. Heyday of architecture accompanied by the active development of the fine arts, painting and sculpture. Jagiellonians created in Central Europe powerful dynasty, and at the turn of the XV and XVI centuries Krakow was the major city of this part of the continent. Sigazmund I and his wife Bona, there is a "kind of famous Sforza, attracted to the construction of many prominent Italian sculptors and architects who rebuilt the old Gothic castle kings, at the same time in the Wawel Cathedral appeared Sigismund Chapel – the most famous buildings in Northern Europe. Walls Castle decorated magnificent collection of tapestries (150 pieces), woven in Antwerp.

With the death of Sigismund II Augustus, the last of the Jagiellonian, came to an end the era of prosperity and power of Krakow. In 1569, after the union between Poland and Lithuania, the city was on the outskirts of the Rzeczpospolita and lost the lead role Warsaw, located in the center of the state. In 1609 a fire broke out at Babel, which destroyed the interior of the castle. King Sigazmund III Vasa decided not to rebuild the residence, but simply move to Warsaw.

In 1655 the city was first taken by the Swedes and completely ruined. The last king of Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, chose the place of coronation already Cathedral in Warsaw.

XVIII century was a terrible time to Krakow: it repeatedly robbed