1 : Introduction
2 : City (Day)
3 : City (Night)
4 : Churches
5 : Castle/Cathedral
6 : Fete
7 : Kazimierz, Podgorze, Plaszow, Oskar Schindler
8 : Wieliczka Salt Mine

In the late 18th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was partitioned by its expansionist neighbours after a joint invasion by the Imperial Russia, Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. The conquered Krakow became part of the Austrian province of Galicia.

In 1794 Tadeusz Kosciuszko initiated an independence revolt in Krakow's market square. The Prussian army put down the revolt and looted Polish royal treasure which had been kept at the Wawel Castle. The stolen regalia were secretly melted down in March 1809 while precious stones and pearls were appropriated in Berlin.

Krakow Cathedral in 1843 (left) .

When the French captured what had once been Poland, Napoleon Bonaparte established the Duchy of Warsaw (1809) as an independent but subordinate state. However, the Congress of Vienna (1815) restored the partition of Poland, but gave Krakow partial independence as the Free City of Krakow.

After the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Austria granted partial autonomy to Galicia, making Polish a language of government and establishing a provincial Diet.

As this form of Austrian rule was more benevolent than that exercised by Russia and Prussia, Krakow became a Polish national symbol and a center of culture and art.

Several important commemorations took place in Krakow during the period from 1866-1914, including the 500th Anniversary in 1910 of the Battle of Grunwald. During that commemoration world-renowned pianist Ignacy Paderewski unveiled this monument (right and below) .

Many leading Polish artists of the period resided in Krakow among them the seminal painter Jan Matejko (now laid to rest in Rakowicki Cemetery) and the founder of modern Polish drama, Stanislaw Wyspianski.

By the end of the nineteenth century Krakow had evolved into a modern metropolis; running water and electric streetcars were introduced in 1901. Between 1910 and 1915, Krakow and its surrounding suburban communities were gradually combined into a single administrative unit called Greater Krakow (Wielki Krakow).

At the outbreak of World War I on 3 August 1914 Jozef Pilsudski formed a small cadre military unit, the First Cadre Company - the predecessor of the Polish Legions - which set out from Krakow to fight for the liberation of Poland in alliance with Austrian and German troops.

Russian troops besieged Krakow during the first winter of the First World War, and thousands of residents left the city for Moravia and other safer localities but generally returning in the spring and summer of 1915.

The Austro-Hungarian and German Empires lost the war, but, under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the first sovereign Polish state in over a century was established.

Between the two World Wars Krakow was also a major Jewish cultural and religious centre with the Zionist movement being relatively strong within the city's Jewish population.

With the emergence of the Second Polish Republic, Krakow restored its role as a major academic and cultural centre with the establishment of new universities such as the AGH University of Science and Technology and the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts as well as including a number of new and essential vocational schools.

It became an important cultural centre for the Polish Jews with a Zionist youth movement relatively strong among the city's Jewish population.Krakow was also an influential centre of Jewish spiritual life, with all its manifestations of religious observance from Orthodox, to Chasidic and Reform flourishing side by side.

Following the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in September 1939 the city became part of the General Government, a separate administrative region of the Third Reich, and from 4 November 1939 its capital. The General Government was headed by Hans Frank who was based in the city's Wawel Castle.

The Nazis envisioned turning Krakow into a completely German city by removing all Jews and Poles, renaming locations and streets into German and sponsoring propaganda portraying it as being historically German. In an operation called 'Sonderaktion Krakau' more than 180 local university professors and academics were arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps.

The Jewish population was first confined to a ghetto in which many died of illness or starvation. Those in the Ghetto were later murdered or sent to concentration camps, including Plaszow and Auschwitz.

Roman Polanski, the film director, was a survivor of this ghetto. Also, the German entrepreneur, Oskar Schindler, selected employees from the ghetto to work in his enamelware plant and by so doing saved many of them from probable death in the concentration camps. (More details of Schindler will be found in the Podgorze pages on this website.)

Although looted by various occupational authorities Krakow remained relatively undamaged at the end of World War II and most of the city's historical and architectural legacy was saved. Soviet forces entered the city on 18 January 1945.

After the war, under the communist People's Republic of Poland, the intellectual and academic community of Krakow was put under total political control. The universities were soon deprived of printing rights and autonomy.

The Stalinist government ordered the 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 Krakow's transformation from a university city to an industrial centre. The new working class, drawn by the industrialisation of Krakow, contributed to the city's rapid population growth.

In an effort that spanned two decades, Karol Wojtyla, cardinal archbishop of Krakow, successfully lobbied for permission to build the first churches in the new industrial suburbs. In 1978, Wojtyla was elevated to the papacy as John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In the same year, UNESCO placed Krakow Old Town on the first-ever list of World Heritage Sites.

(Poland's Minister of Defence in 2008 unveiled a monument in the Old Town to Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, a First World War hero and described above, who was buried at Wawel in Krakow in 1935 - the ceremony is pictured above left with acknowledgement to Wikipedia.)

The pages in this website are indexed above and relate to the various areas of Krakow and events that were happening at the time of this visit. They may be accessed by clicking on any desired individual subject.

A particular subject may have more than one page allotted to it and these may be accessed by clicking on the 'Next Page' button at the bottom of each page in that particular area.

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