Cracow (Kraków) situated on the Vistula River is the second largest city and one of the oldest cities in Poland. It was as a hamlet on Wawel Hill dated back to the 4th century) and was already being reported as a busy trading center of Slavonic Europe in 965. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 until King Sigismund III Vasa (1566 –1632) relocated his court to Warsaw in 1596.

The name of Kraków is traditionally derived from Krakus-the legendary founder of Kraków, who built it above a cave occupied by a ravenous dragon (Smok Wawelski). Many knights unsuccessfully attempted to oust the dragon by force, but instead, Krakus fed it a poisoned lamb, which killed the dragon. The dragon’s den below the castle and Wawel dragon statue breathing fire at the foot of Wawel Hill on the bank of the Vistula River is now a popular tourist stop.

In 1978, UNESCO approved the first ever sites for its new World Heritage List, including the entire Old Town (with the Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill as part of the Historic Centre of Kraków) cited as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

For more information, please see: