Polish Culture / Culture news from Poland / Cracow – the city of encounters
Cracow – the city of encounters

Cracow – the city of encounters

Cracow is probably the most recognizable Polish city, next to Warsaw. Quiet rivalry between them has lasted since 1592, when the capital was moved from the first to the latter.

Located between Vienna and Warsaw, but also between Lviv and Prague, Cracow has drawn the best from its privileged location and rich history. Since the 10th century the city was also home to a large Jewish community. It comes as no surprise that a centre with such rich roots, where different traditions, religions, trade routes and human fates crossed for centuries, is first and foremost place of encounters with a lot to offer to visitors for whom culture is an important form of communication.

It is hard to be bored in Cracow. Nearly 80 festivals are held here each year. Some of them last only a few days, others – a few months. The most famous include the Jewish Culture Festival, but that will not be until the summer, or the recently concluded Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival.

Film in Cracow

Meanwhile, in May there is Film Music Festival – one of the most important festivals of its kind in the world, constructed as a monumental music and film spectacle. Among the guests are frequent Oscar winners – Elliot Goldenthal, Tan Dun, Howard Shore, Jan AP Kaczmarek, Alexandre Desplat.

Cracow Film Festival starts on 29th May. It presents documentaries, animated films, and short feature films. Its high rank is reflected in the fact that it is accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers and the European Film Academy as the only festival in Poland qualifying for an Oscar in the full-length documentary category. The festival is accompanied by exhibitions, concerts, and meetings with filmmakers.

Muziek in Cracow

Cracow is also music, which resounds here in many places and at all times of the year.

On June 7, the sensational Dutch violinist and conductor, André Rieu, will perform at Cracow’s Tauron Arena. The artist is known for popularizing classical music through unconventional performances. One of the orchestra musicians is the young Polish flutist Maja Jasińska.

Early music fans will certainly appreciate Capella Cracoviensis, a chamber orchestra and choir, whose repertoire includes early music performed on period instruments, with respect of historical performance practices. It is worth checking their calendar of concerts, since the ensemble from Kraków often performs in prestigious concert halls around the world, among others in Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

But Cracow is not only about classical music. Ethno, jazz, electronic and techno music also have their place here.

Cats, games and fashion

Throughout spring and summer, the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology invites cat lovers to an exhibition of woodcuts from the collection of Feliks Jasieński, depicting these extraordinary animals and comparing them with the Western tradition of depicting cats in visual arts.  The exhibition I, THE CAT interprets the symbolism of cats in Western and Japanese culture, referring to fairy tales, legends, and pop culture. It would not be complete without Puss in Boots or Hello Kitty.  Both are there!

In addition to annual events and long-established institutions, new ones are popping up, such as the Arcade Museum, which was established two years ago. It exhibits game rooms with joysticks, buttons, and steering wheels. According to experts and enthusiasts, it is a place of European rank. Exhibits available here show the impact of computer games on contemporary pop culture. As the creators of the museum claim to be a real time machine, which can take you on a sentimental journey to the 80’s and 90’s of the twentieth century. The museum is completely interactive, and visitors can try any of the 150 classic video games.

Cracow’s creative atmosphere also inspires contemporary young fashion designers. Clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, or hats they offer are highly appreciated in Vienna, Paris, New York and Milan.

The independent fashion fair KIERMASH takes place regularly here, where the youngest designers present their works, and on Sunday mornings Plac Nowy in Kazimierz and the nearby market at Hala Targowa turn into antique markets, where with a bit of luck and patience, you can find real gems with an interesting history and bargain over the price.

These are just some of the proposals for the coming weeks. The full list of events for the coming months can be found in a PDF magazine or on the site of Cracow Culture.

Cracow is a wonderful place, always worth coming back to and a must-visit if you haven’t been there yet.

Image: Dariusz Robert Drewnicki via Pixabay