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Presentation of krakÒW

KRAKÒWKraków is one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland, and is a popular tourist location, containing a World Heritage Site in the historic centre. Situated on the Vistula river in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. 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 centres. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918, and the capital of Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship. The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland's second most important city. It has grown out from a hamlet on Wawel Hill, and was reported as a busy trading centre of Slavonic Europe in 965. With the emergence of the Second Polish Republic, Kraków restored its role as a major academic and cultural centre with the establishment of new universities.


Kraków remained relatively undamaged at the end of World War II. Allegedly Germans planned to destroy it with massive amounts of explosives, but according to the most popular of several versions of the story, Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev, after being informed by the Polish patriots of the German plan, tried to preserve Kraków from destruction by ordering a lightning attack on the city. The credibility of these accounts has been recently questioned by Polish historian Andrzej Chwalba, who in his recent works finds no evidence for any German plan of massive destruction and portrays Konev's strategy as ordinary, only accidentally resulting in reduced damage to Kraków, a fact that was later exaggerated into the myth of "Konev, savior of Kraków" by Soviet propaganda.

After the war, under the Stalinist regime, the intellectual and academic community of Kraków was put under total political control. The universities were soon deprived of their printing rights as well as their autonomy. The communist government of the People's Republic of Poland ordered construction of the country's largest steel mill in the newly-created suburb of Nowa Huta. The creation of the giant Lenin Steelworks (now Sendzimir Steelworks owned by Mittal) sealed Kraków's transformation from a university city to an industrial centre. The new working class, drawn by the industrialization of the city, contributed to its rapid population growth. Also, in an effort that spanned two decades, Karol Wojtyła, cardinal archbishop of Kraków (and who later became Pope John Paul II), successfully lobbied for permission to build the first churches in the new industrial suburbs.

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