Culture of Kraków

Kraków is considered by many to be the cultural capital of Poland.[1] It was named the European Capital of Culture by the European Union for the year 2000. The city has some of the best museums in the country and several famous theaters. It became the residence of two Polish Nobel laureates in literature: Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz, while a third Nobel laureate, the Yugoslav writer Ivo Andric also lived and studied in Krakow. It is also home to one of the world’s oldest universities, the Jagiellonian University of Kraków.

Folk dancers in traditional costumes from Kraków (regarded as Polish national costumes)
Wawel Tapestry

Museums and National Art Galleries

Kraków has 28 museums as well as a number of art collections and public art galleries. They are separated into the National and City museums:

The National Museum established in 1879, which is the main branch of Poland's National Museum with permanent collections around the country, as well as the National Art Collection on Wawel Hill and the Czartoryski Museum featuring works by Leonardo and Rembrandt.

The City of Krakow has a main Historical Museum that also has branches throughout the city:-

Nativity Cribs Festival


Kraków is home to many different and unique street festivals, parties and parades. Most famous are its Nativity Cribs Festival held every December, the Jewish Culture Festival held at the end of June, International Jazz Festival held in April, Lajkonik Parade during the spring, and a number of indoor festivals held throughout the year. The extended list of Kraków festivals includes:


Slowacki Theatre in Krakow Old Town District

Kraków is home to one of nation's most active theatre scenes and some of the oldest continuing performing arts companies.[37] It is considered to be the second largest centre for Polish theatre behind Warsaw. It is home to both acclaimed productions by companies such as the National Stary Theatre, and the emerging companies supporting new generation of local artists. Among established theatres in Kraków with permanent stages often in buildings of historic significance are:


Opera Krakowska[43] one of the leading national opera companies, stages 200 performances each year including ballet, operettas and musicals. It has, in its main repertoire, the greatest world and Polish opera classics. The Opera moved into its first permanent House in the autumn of 2008. It is in charge also of the Summer Festival of Opera and Operetta.

Cracow is home to two major Polish festivals of early music presenting forgotten Baroque oratorios and operas: Opera Rara[44] and Misteria Paschalia.[45] Meanwhile, Capella Cracoviensis runs the Music in Old Cracow International Festival.

Academy of Music in Kraków, founded in 1888, is known world-wide as the alma mater of the contemporary Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, and it is also the only one in Poland to have two winners of the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw among its alumni. The Academy organizes concerts of its students and guests throughout the whole year.[46]

Music organizations and venues include: Kraków Philharmonic, home of the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the chamber Capella Cracoviensis,[47] Sinfonietta Cracovia (a.k.a. the Orchestra of the Royal City of Kraków), the Polish Radio Choir of Kraków, Organum Academic Choir, the Mixed Mariański Choir (Mieszany Chór Mariański), Krakow Academic Choir of the Jagiellonian University, the Krakow Chamber Choir, Amar Corde String Quartet, Consortium Iagellonicum Baroque Orchestra of the Jagiellonian University, the Brass Band of T. Sendzimir Steelworks, and Camerata Chamber Orchestra of Radio Kraków.

Cultural Centres

The City of Kraków is the largest public funder of the community arts initiatives among the city districts. Many neighborhoods in Kraków operate publicly sponsored cultural centres with the financial aid from the cultural department of the municipal government. Community centres with their many exhibitions, art classes, educational and music programs are perhaps the most noticeable cultural venues at a local level. They are paid for from the 4% of the budget of the city of Kraków (with revenue of 2,150 million złoty in 2006) [48] allocated to culture and recreational facilities. Among the city’s cultural centres are:


Irish Pub “Pod Papugami”
Famous bar “Vis-à-Vis” on Main Market Square

There are over a hundred pubs and bars in the vicinity of the Kraków Market Square alone, most in the cellars of historic buildings, each with its own intimate character and atmosphere. Many of the establishments are devoted to live music as well. Jazz clubs include: Klinika 35 Blues Club, Harris Piano Jazz Bar, Jazz Club U Muniaka, Pod Jaszczurami Club, Kornet Jazz Club, U Louisa, Rotunda Orlik Club and Piec Arts Club. Popular places to drink, eat, and enjoy, are situated also in the nearby Kazimierz quarter.

Friday and Saturday nights are the high points of the entertainment week. Live entertainment fits all tastes. Jazz remains very popular and there is no lack of places for fans of rock, modern pop, ballads, including classical music. A number of restaurants in the centre of Kraków can seat more than 100.

Among Jazz musicians with bands are: Reiner Trio, Beale Street Band, Boba Jazz Band, Aleksander Glondys Quartet/Quintet (formerly: Al’Mad), Jazz Band Ball Orchestra, Janusz Witko Quartet, Mr. Bober's Friends, Cracow Swing Quartet, Old Metropolitan Band, Marek Bałata Jazz Singer, Andrzej Cudzich, New Bone, Sebastian Bernatowicz, Jan Pilch, Karolina Styła, Overtime, Piotr Domagała, Ryszard Styła, Jorgos Skolias.

Kraków Klezmer groups include: Kroke and The Cracow Klezmer Band.

Selected Folk bands: Krakowiacy Song and Dance Company, Students Highlanders' Ensemble "Skalni", Retro-Circus-Folk Band "Vladimirska", Nowa Huta Song and Dance Ensemble, Highland Folk Group Hamernik, Children's Highland Folk Group Mali Hamernicy and Folk Dance Group Krakowiak.

See also


  1. Kraków, the cultural capital of Poland
  2. Manggha, Centre of Japanese Art and Technology
  3. Stanisław Wyspiański Museum
  4. Jan Matejko Manor in Krzesławice
  5. Emeryk Hutten Czapski Museum
  6. Józef Mehoffer Manor
  7. Szołayski Museum
  8. “At the Sign of the Cross” House: History of Theatre Museum
  9. Hipolit Manor
  10. Celestat, the Residence of the Sharpshooters’ Society
  11. Artistic Salon of the District of Zwierzyniec
  12. Museum of National Remembrance at "Under the Eagle Pharmacy"
  13. History of Nowa Huta Museum
  14. Wieliczka Salt Mine tourist route
  15. Cathedral Museum
  16. Museum of Archaeology
  17. Archdiocesean Museum
  18. Museum of Independence
  19. Armed Effort Museum
  20. Museum of Ethnography
  21. Museum of Pharmacy of the Jagiellonian University
  22. Museum of Geology of the Polish Academy of Sciences
  23. Czartoryski Library
  24. Museum of the Home Army (AK)
  25. Museum of Photography
  26. Museum of Natural History
  27. Museum of Zoology
  28. Rydlówka Manor: museum of the Young Poland movement
  29. The Cricoteka Centre for Documentation of Tadeusz Kantor Art
  30. Museum of Urban Engineering, homepage,
  31. About Transportation (Urban Engineering) Museum at
  32. Review of Galicia Jewish Museum
  33. Summer Jazz Festival official website
  34. Summer Festival of Organ Music
  35. Festival of Animated Film info at
  36. About Słowacki Theatre at
  37. National Stary Theatre (a.k.a. The Old Theatre)
  38. Bagatela Theatre
  39. The Ludowy Theatre a.k.a. The People's Theatre
  40. Groteska Theatre of Puppetry
  41. Scena Stu Theatre
  42. Opera Krakowska
  45. Kraków Philharmonic, homepage
  46. Bulletin of Public Information for the City of Kraków (PDF file, direct download 12.1 MB). Publisher: Wydział Strategii i Rozwoju Miasta, 2012-01-12. Author: Wojciech Piątkowski, inspector.
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