Kraków / Cracow / Krakau / Cracovie / Cracovia / Kroke - is Poland's second largest city and is deservedly called the most beautiful city of Poland. It is also one of the oldest cities of the country, as it dates back to seventh century, and a popular tourist destination. It used to be the capital of Poland and the residence of Polish kings. The city is divided into 18 districts, of which the most famous are the Old Town, Nowa Huta and Kazimierz. Architectural and urban complex of old Krakow is among the most important group of heritage sites in Poland and the world. The historical city centre has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The most significant architectural structures are the defence walls of the Wawel Castle, the Barbakan, Florian Gate, the Wawel Castle complex, with the Sigismund's Chapel and its cathedral, St. Mary's Basilica, with the altar by Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss) and the renaissance Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). From the Middle Ages to the catastrophe of second world war Kraków – and especially Kazimierz – was counted among the greatest centres of Jewish activity in Europe. Attracting millions of tourists every year the district is home to the oldest Jewish sacred religious building in Poland which still stands along visitors route, the grave of a famous Rabbi which the Nazis did not dare tear down, a synagogue with stained-glass windows (a true rarity!), and the family home of the queen of cosmetics, Helena Rubinstein who hailed from Kazimierz. Worth visiting is also the old German Factory of Enameled Vessels, during the World War II owned by Oskar Schindler – a museum and memorial place reminding about the extermination’s times.
Cracow is considered by many to be the cultural capital of Poland. It was named the European Capital of Culture by European Union for the year 2000. The city has several of the best museums in the country and a few famous theatres. When it comes to famous characters, two Polish Nobel laureates in literature lived in this city: Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz. Also, Cracow is a major centre of education. More than ten universities or academy level institutions are located in the city. The most famous and the best university in the country is the Jagiellonian University dating back to the year 1364.