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The city of Kraków was founded around .700 AD and wasmade a bishopric c.1000. In 1320 it became 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 Free City of Kraków, was a city-state created by the Congress of Vienna and controlled by its three neighbors, Russia, Prussia and Austria until 1846. It was a remnant of the Duchy of Warsaw partitioned by the three empires in 1815.

The Free City was officially established on May 3, 1815. It comprised the city of Kraków and its environs (1164 sq. km) and in 1815 it had a population of about 88,000, mostly Poles. In 1818 it was given a constitution which gave it much autonomy. The legislative power was vested in an Assembly of Representatives, and the executive power - in a Governing Senate. The law was based on the civil Napoleonic code, and French commercial and penal law. The official language was Polish.

The Free City was a duty-free area allowed to trade with Russia, Prussia and Austria. The Jagiellonian University could accept students from all three partitions of Poland.

During the November Uprising of 1830-1831 Kraków was a base for arms smuggling to the Kingdom of Poland. After the fall of the uprising the autonomy of the Free City was restricted. Kraków was occupied by the Austrian army from 1836 to 1841. After an unsuccessful Kraków Uprising of 1846 the Free City was eventually annexed by Austria on November 16, 1846 and turned into a Grand Duchy of Kraków.

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.

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