Old Cracow or a City for Young People?

 To study in Cracow or to visit it to participate in a conference? This is the dream of many young Poles and more and more frequently the goal of others from across Europe. Why? What is it that is at the root of this dream? Apart from the quality of the education at the local universities, the legendary fame of the city and its unique atmosphere, it is enough simply to look over it, from Wawel Hill, for example. The medieval layout of Cracow, which has survived intact to the present day, was included in the first UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1978. The centre of the city, which was the political capital of Poland for centuries and is still its cultural centre, is full of the most wonderful relics and reminders of the past. There are a whole host of the most interesting museums and, what is most important, the historical centre is not an enclave for the innumerable tourists but also the heart, which is very much alive even today, of the modern city that is the second largest in Poland. The main buildings of the Jagiellonian University and the Pontifical University of John Paul II are situated in the historical city centre and other educational institutions, including the AGH University of Science and Technology and the Cracow University of Technology, are located not far from the central area.
Rynek Główny (the Main Market Square) and the fashionable Kazimierz, the former Jewish quarter, lie within walking distance. This means that the students and academics, who visit and study in Cracow, are able to avail themselves of its attractions, including the numerous clubs where it is possible to enjoy oneself listening to practically every kind of music, the cosy cafes and atmospheric pubs, and all are within easy reach. There are als many theatres in the city, from repertory theatres, such as the famous Stary Theatre, to those that are rather more alternative. It is possible to join in the rich and varied festivals, with the events organised catering for all tastes, for example, devotees of the cinema, ballet and particularly music, including Baroque and court dance, military bands, classical and guitar. This list is far from exhaustive, because there are also, for instance, large rock concerts organised at Błonia, the huge 50 ha area of common land, situated not far from the very centre of the city. Additionally, Cracow is a comfortable place in which to live as it does not feel overwhelming despite its size. It remains a relatively quiet place, with good public transport, an increasing number of cycle tracks and it is easily accessible by car, using the A4 motorway, or air.
Cracow’s environs are attractive too. There are five national parks not far from the city, dozens of ski slopes and the Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska (a series of hilly Jurassic ridges that run between Kraków and Częstochowa) with wonderful scenery and opportunities for rock climbing. Recently, Cracow’s educational establishments have modernised and extended the courses on offer as well as constructed many sports facilities. Indeed it could be said the young people who study at Cracow’s numerous educational institutions set the tone within the city and have a considerable impact on its atmosphere. This is the city in which they study, enjoy themselves, meet many distinguished artists and take part in fascinating discussions. Therefore, Old Cracow still preserves its vitality thanks to its young guests, many of whom decide to remain in the city after their graduation in order to participate in prolonging the legend of this extraordinary city.