Cracow - some facts
Kraków (Polish pronunciation: ?krakuf About this sound listen (help?info)), also Cracow or Krakow (US English /?kr??ka?/, UK English /?kr?ka?/),23 is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River (Polish: Wisła) in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century.4 Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life and is one of Poland's most important economic hubs. It was the capital of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1038 to 1569; the Polish?Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 to 1596;5 the Free City of Kraków from 1815 to 1846; the Grand Duchy of Cracow from 1846 to 1918; and Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1998. It has been the capital of Lesser Poland Voivodeship since 1999.
The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland's second most important city. It began as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and was already being reported as a busy trading centre of Slavonic Europe in 965.4 With the establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic in 1918 and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic centre.
Poland's territory extends across several geographical regions, between latitudes 49° and 55° N, and longitudes 14° and 25° E. In the north-west is the Baltic seacoast, which extends from the Bay of Pomerania to the Gulf of Gdańsk. This coast is marked by several spits, coastal lakes (former bays that have been cut off from the sea), and dunes. The largely straight coastline is indented by the Szczecin Lagoon, the Bay of Puck, and the Vistula Lagoon. The centre and parts of the north lie within the North European Plain.
Rising above these lowlands is a geographical region comprising the four hilly districts of moraines and moraine-dammed lakes formed during and after the Pleistocene ice age. These lake districts are the Pomeranian Lake District, the Greater Polish Lake District, the Kashubian Lake District, and the Masurian Lake District. The Masurian Lake District is the largest of the four and covers much of north-eastern Poland. The lake districts form part of the Baltic Ridge, a series of moraine belts along the southern shore of the Baltic Sea.
Cracow and tourism
According to statistics, in 2012 Kraków was visited by 7.3 million tourists including 2.1 million foreign travelers (over 30% of their grand total).175176 The visitors spent over 2.5 billion złoty in the city (without travel costs and pre-booked accommodations). Most foreign tourists came from Great Britain (over 25%), with German, French, Spanish, Italian and American visitors closely following. The Kraków tour-guide from the Lesser Poland Visitors Bureau indicated that not all statistics are recorded due to considerable number of those who come, staying in readily available private rooms paid by cash, especially from Eastern Europe.175
The main reasons for visiting the city are: its historical monuments, recreation as well as relatives and friends (placing third in the ranking), religion and business. There are 120 quality hotels in Kraków (usually about half full) offering 15,485 overnight accommodations.177 The average stay last for about 4 to 7 nights. The survey conducted among the travelers showed that they enjoyed the city's friendliness most, with 90% of Polish tourists and 87% foreigners stating that they would personally recommend visiting it.175