Kraków (krăˈkou, Pol. kräˈkōf) [key], Ger. Krakau, city (1994 est. pop. 751,500), capital of Małopolskie prov., S Poland, on the Vistula. A river port and industrial center, it has varied manufactures including metals, machinery, textiles, and chemicals, and is also an outsourcing center. One of E Europe's largest iron and steel plants is near the city. Founded c.700 and made a bishopric c.1000, Kraków became (1320) the residence of the kings of Poland. The Kraków fire (1595) caused the transfer (1596) of the royal residence to Warsaw, but the kings were still crowned and buried in Kraków until the 18th cent. The city passed to Austria in the third partition of Poland (1795) and was included (1809) in the grand duchy of Warsaw. In 1815 the Congress of Vienna made the city and its vicinity into the republic of Kraków, a protectorate of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, and in 1846 it was included in Austria. The city reverted to Poland in 1919. Kraków has many historic landmarks and national relics. Jagiellonian Univ., founded in 1364 by Casimir the Great, has long been a leading European center of learning; Copernicus was one of its students. The city has some 50 old churches, many of which contain works of art. Standing on a hill, the Wawel, are the royal castle (rebuilt 16th cent. in Italian Renaissance style) and the Gothic cathedral (rebuilt in the 14th cent.), which contains the tombs of great Poles. The Rynek [market] square is noted for the Church of Our Lady (13th cent.), which has carvings by Veit Stoss; the 14th-century cloth hall; and the remaining tower of the 14th-century town hall.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Polish Political Geography