According to oxfordastronomy, Kraków, Polish Kraków [-kuf], is the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, southern Poland, urban district and district town on the upper Vistula, 212 m above sea level, with (2018) 771 100 residents the second largest city in Poland.
Besides Warsaw, Krakow is the most important cultural center in Poland and a European art metropolis; catholic archbishop’s seat; Jagiellonian University (founded in 1364; oldest Polish university), Technical University (founded in 1945), Agricultural University, Economic University, Pedagogical University, Pontifical University, Academies of Mining, Sports, Music and Art, Higher Schools of Theater, Economics, Management and Pedagogy; Branch and research institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Jagiellonian Library (with valuable manuscripts and incunabula), Goethe Institute, numerous larger museums (including the National Museum, Archaeological Museum, Czartoryski Museum), several theaters, philharmonic orchestras, botanical and zoological gardens.
For a long time the main branches of industry in Krakow were the iron and steel industry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical (including fertilizers), pharmaceutical, textile and food industries, printing and publishing. A strong industrial development had started especially after the Second World War: Construction of the ironworks (1949–54) in what is now the Nowa Huta district (with a large estate, once a place of residence and work for over 200,000 people), in the neighboring town of Skawina aluminum smelter (serious ecological consequences). In the early 1990s, heavy industry began to decline sharply (including the closure of two large chemical plants). At the same time, several multinational corporations set up offices in Krakow; New industrial investments were recorded above all in the food industry and information technology, and a strong upswing in the service sector (e.g. business-oriented services, capital and commodity exchanges, trade fairs, private universities). Krakow has an important tourism sector and is a transport hub with connections to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Vistula port and international airport.
Krakow was first mentioned in an Arabic travelogue in 965/966 as a trading center on the way from Crimea to Prague. Bishopric since 1000, was in 1138 by Bolesław III. Determined in the will for the seat of the senior of the Polish princes. After the destruction during the Mongol invasion in 1241, the city was re-established in 1257 with Magdeburg law based on the model of Wroclaw, whose city plan was imitated. The population was predominantly German from then until the beginning of the 16th century and in 1311/12 sided in vain with the Bohemians against Władisław I. Łokietek who made the city again the capital and coronation city in 1320. Cracow then experienced an economic and cultural heyday (in 1364 the Jagiellonian University was founded) and became a member of the Hanseatic League. With the relocation of the royal court to Warsaw in 1596, Krakow lost its importance, although it remained the coronation city until 1764. Since March 1794 the center of the Kościuszko uprising, Krakow was occupied by Prussian troops in June and came to Austria in 1795 and to the Duchy of Warsaw in 1809.
The Congress of Vienna made Krakow a neutral free state (“republic”) under the protectorate of Austria, Prussia and Russia in 1815. As the center of a national Polish uprising (1846), it fell to Austria after its suppression. After the First World War, Krakow became part of the Republic of Poland. During the Second World War, Kraków was the capital of the Government General from 1939-44.