Kraków, written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in Lesser Poland Province, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków was the official capital of Poland until 1596 and has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, economic, cultural and artistic life. Cited as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, its Old Town was declared the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world.
The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland's second-most-important city. Kraków's extensive cultural heritage across the epochs of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture includes Wawel Cathedral and Wawel Royal Castle on the banks of the Vistula, St. Mary's Basilica, Saints Peter and Paul Church and the largest medieval market square in Europe, Rynek Główny. Kraków is home to Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest universities in the world and traditionally Poland's most reputable institution of higher learning.
Kraków is one of Poland's most important economic centres and the economic hub of the Lesser Poland (Małopolska) region. There are about 50 large multinational companies in the city, including Google, IBM, Royal Dutch Shell, UBS, HSBC, Motorola, Aptiv, MAN SE, General Electric, ABB, Aon, Akamai, Cisco Systems, Hitachi, Philip Morris, Capgemini, and Sabre Holdings, along with other British, German and Scandinavian-based firms. The city is also the global headquarters for Comarch, a Polish enterprise software house. Kraków is the second most-visited city in Poland. According to the World Investment Report by the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Kraków is also the most emergent city location for investment in global BPO projects (Business Process Outsourcing) in the world.
Unity Tower was completed in 2020 after almost 30 years, creating a new business and residential centre. It is the tallest building in the city.
Krakow has a long history of entrepreneurship, perhaps best reflected in the fact the most important square in the city is called the Main Market Square (Rynek Główny).
Since the early 2000s a startup community has emerged in Krakow, In the early days the Krakow: Europe's Silicon Valley web page was the on line hub of the community. Most important now is the OMGKRK foundation and its Facebook group which has over 5,000 members and acts as a community notice board for the startup community.
Kraków is one of the collocation centres of Knowledge and Innovation Community (Sustainable Energy) of The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). InnoEnergy is an integrated alliance of reputable organisations from the education, research and industry sectors. It was created based on long standing links of co-operation as well as the principles of excellence. The partners have jointly developed a strategy to tackle the weaknesses of the European innovation landscape in the field of sustainable energy.
Kraków is rated High Sufficiency by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. High Sufficiency level cities are cities that have a sufficient degree of services so as not to be overly dependent on world cities.
Kraków is rated C by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. C cities are international gateway cities. Kraków was ranked #14 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Kraków has a population of over 780,981 people. Kraków also forms part of the wider Krakow metropolitan area which has a population of over 1,491,811 people.