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Krakow News of Year 2007 

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Selected Archive News Stories of 2007 from Krakow Info

Year 2007 

New Year, As Usual 
The usual number of some 120,000 people turned out for Krakow’s traditional New Year’s Eve’s open-air party on the city’s central Rynek Glowny square. While rejoicing they could watch free concert featuring Poland’s pop stars of three generations followed by a firework display. 

2007 Voted Officially the Year of Krakow 
Poland’s senate has voted 2007 to be The Year of Krakow nation-wide to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the city’s sweeping self-government it enjoyed in the Middle Ages. Krakow is the country’s first city ever honored this way. 

Lajkonik, the One and Only From Now 
Visitors to Krakow can no longer take home a picture with themselves next to the city’s iconic lajkonik horseman. The municipality has refused the resourceful impersonator of the legendary Tartar a permit to earn his living for another year through posing for tourist cameras on the Rynek Glowny central square. This way the city hall wants to protect the integrity of the traditional lajkonik figure that every year leads a historical pageant through Krakow’s streets on the first Thursday after the feast of Corpus Christi. 

Fountains of Light and Harmony 
the winter fountain fountain of light in Krakow's Planty garden
Krakow’s municipality has decided that the city’s fountains in the Old Town historic district and elsewhere are to spout light and music on winter nights rather than stand idle in freezing temperatures. Shining strings are supposed to mimic jets of water spurting from each fountain in warmer seasons. Accompanying classical music, and possibly jazz as well, will change every month or so. The first fountain of light, in a Planty garden near the barbican, delivers Tchaikovsky’s compositions every night to be replaced by Chopin’s pieces by the end of December. Cost to Krakow’s taxpayers is an equivalent of about 54,000 euro. 

Visitors To Stay Warm This Winter, Courtesy of City Hall
 Krakow’s city government, already famed in Poland for its compassion for the homeless, has announced a new service to help them weather the winter. Besides thousands of free meals every day, accommodation for hundreds at night shelters, a number of bath houses, health care, and thousands of benefits in cash – all at the cost of zlotys 4.5 million a year – the municipality has resolved to kindle ten fire-baskets in Krakow streets whenever the temperature drops below minus twenty Celsius. City hall reckons that about 2,000 homeless spends the winter in Krakow, in that number seasonal migrants from the country’s other, less hospitable cities. 

Krakow’s Opera House–Somewhat Later and Much Costlier 
Completion of a brand-new, state-of-the-art opera building for Krakow at Lubicz street is delayed by at least six months with new deadline set for the end of 2007. At the same time its cost has shot up to some 80 million zlotys (an equivalent of roughly twenty million euro) from the original 54 million, the difference to be covered by the government of the Malopolska province whose capital city is Krakow. Till now the Teatr Slowackiego theater at Pl. Sw. Ducha square has doubled as opera venue.  

Property Tax in 2007 Is Up, Barely 
Krakow’s City Council has left the yearly municipal property tax on residential estates unchanged while commercial floor space is to be taxed slightly higher in 2007. Basic rate for commercial property has been raised by 0.16 zloty, to 18.25 zlotys per square meter. As before superstores of 2,000-plus sq. m will be taxed a bit more in 2007, at 18.6 zlotys per square meter, a rise of 0.17 zloty. At the same time such businesses as bakeries, bakeshops, and slaughterhouses are to pay just 9.3 zlotys per square meter, an increase of 0.08 zlotys. Owners of flats or dwelling houses pay as little property tax as 0.54 zloty for a square meter of the living quarters. The Krakow municipality forecasts its revenue from the property tax to total about 283 million zlotys, i.e. euro 72.5 million or so. 

Eight Million Visited Krakow in 2006 
Last year 10.9 million tourists visited the Malopolska province and its many holiday destinations, 1.3 million more than in 2005. In that number about eight million arrived to Krakow, the province’s capital and Poland’s southern metropolis. Foreigners accounted for roughly three million of the visitors to Malopolska. Germans and Britons made up respectively 17 percent and 16 percent of them with Americans distant third with 9 percent. On average a visiting foreigner spent en equivalent of some 170 euro, compared to a hundred euro for a Pole. The aggregate windfall for the province amounted to an equivalent of euro 1.08 billion, of which Krakow earned some 890 million. 

Auschwitz Attracted A Million in 2006 
Last year the record number of nearly one million visitors toured the sites of the former Nazi most notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau complex of concentration camps in the city of Oswiecim, seventy kilometers west of Krakow. The infernal prison, where in the years 1941 to 1945 about a million inmates perished, has been turned into a museum after World War II. The museum’s staff attribute the increase to the overall surge in tourism to Poland in 2006 rather than a greater awareness of the holocaust. 

Never Get Lost in Malopolska 
Super-precise positioning system is being launched in the Malopolska province whose capital city is Krakow. The system, based on radio signals from five purpose-built stations in the main cities of the province, may locate an object with the accuracy of two centimeters, compared with three meters in case of the widely uses Global Positioning System (GPS). At the cost of about 415,000 euro, three quarters of it refunded by the EU, the Malopolska provincial government hopes the new positioning system will be instrumental in tracing ambulances, land surveying, construction of roads and bridges, mapping of archeological finds, etc. The system will be also available free of charge to any owner of a GPS device via the access code posted on the webesite 

Krakow Airport’s New Terminal 
Krakow’s Balice airport has got its second passenger terminal. The brand-new, 1,800-sq-meter building has capacity of 600,000 passengers a year and serves all domestic flights. It’s situated next to the airport’s cargo facilities, some 600 m south of the main passenger terminal that handles over two million fliers yearly.

Krakow, the Frontiers of Silicon Valley 
Google Inc. has announced it opens in Krakow one of its ten research centers in Europe and the company’s first such high-tech outpost in this part of the continent. It will be staffed by just 20 to 30 employers but the American giant wants to attract Poland’s top computer scientists. Krakow can already boast R&D centers of Motorola and IBM. 

Tourist Mecca for Trendsetters Is Here
Orbitz, the USA’s online tourism giant, has declared Krakow one of the world’s seven hottest destinations in 2007 alongside Spain’s Valencia, Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (a.k.a. Saigon), and four American getaway spots. Krakow is next Prague–reads the argument. Orbitz highlights Krakow’s well-kept historical landmarks, cultural prominence, energetic nightlife, and long carnival, which make the city a good choice for a jaunt in January or February. 

Airport Numbers Fly High 
In 2006 Krakow’s John Paul II International Airport in Balice, some 15 km from the city center, served the record number of passengers in its entire history. Last year the Balice airport either received or dispatched the total of 2,367,527 fliers, compared with just over 1.5 million in 2005 and mere 840,000 in 2004. This year an estimated three-million-plus passengers should use the Krakow airport. 

1.6-Billion Wish List 
Krakow’s City Council has voted in a ten-year investment plan comprising 66 major municipal development projects to be completed till the end of 2016. Their aggregate cost totals 1.5 billion Polish zlotys, an equivalent of about 385 million euro. The plan includes all overdue projects from an indoor sports arena to a convention center to a fast commuter train line. 

Papal Autos On Sale for a Good Cause, Soon 
Pope Benedict XVI has given Krakow’s Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz five cars and two electric carts that once used to ferry his predecessor John Paul II. The two BMWs, Lancia, Toyota, Chrysler, and two other vehicles arrived to Krakow in mid-December. Four cars and one cart are to be auctioned off this spring to help finance the construction of a religious center commemorating the late Pontiff. The vehicles are in perfect condition. 

Krakow’s Beloved Museum Is Moved for a Time 
By the end of August, 2006 the Krakow National Museum’s popular Gallery of the 19th-century Polish Art in the Cloth Hall has closed for renovation with most of its exhibits moved to Niepolomice’s castle for the next two years. The exhibition of the gallery’s 400 paintings and 50 sculptures in Niepolomice, a town on the eastern outskirts of Krakow, has opened this year in February. The museum’s two best know giant paintings, Jan Matejko’s ‘The Prussian Homage’ and Henryk Siemiradzki’s ‘Nero’s Torches’, are left behind in the Cloth Hall out of sight while four others have been transferred temporarily to The Krakow National Museum's main hall at 3 Maja street. The Niepolomice castle was one of Poland’s royal residences and its present Renaissance architecture dates back to the 16th century. 

A Krakow Priest Shakes the Polish Church
Krakow’s priest’s new book has galvanized Poland’s public opinion and rocked the country’s Catholic Church. Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski was persecuted by the secret police under communism in the 1980s, now he wrote about the Krakow priests who were turned into informers of the infamous SB security service. Among others the book, based on the agency’s documents, exposes some of today’s Polish prelates and it has become instant bestseller. Till recently Father Isakowicz-Zaelski was mostly known for his charity works for the disabled. 

Pope in His Mind 
The memoirs by Krakow’s Archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, recently published concurrently in Poland and Italy have proved a bestseller in both countries. And no wonder as the book evokes the prelate’s 49-year association with Pope John Paul II, first as a chaplain and then the late Pontiff’s private secretary for 27 years. Tellingly, the title of the Polish edition translates as ‘Testimony’ while the Italian publishers opted for overly familiar ‘Life with Karol’ (the name the future Pope had been given at baptism). 

Krakow Mourns John Paul II on the 2nd Anniversary. 
On the second anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, the 2nd of April, Krakow commemorates its greatest son to date with religious services as well as an open-air concert on the central Rynek Glowny square and other cultural events. Three special High Masses will be said in the Ecce Homo sanctuary, the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, and in the church of SS Peter and Paul. A prayer vigil will be held in the front of Krakow’s Archbishop Palace from 9:30 p.m. Earlier, at 7 p.m., an open-air concert features the “Tu es Petrus” oratory on the Old Town’s huge central square. 

More Money for Krakow Landmarks
This year Poland’s government, namely the republic’s president, has pledged record funds for the restoration of Krakow historic buildings – Polish zlotys 45.5 million (an equivalent of roughly 11.7 million euro) compared to 37 million zlotys in 2006. The money will be disbursed for 121 renovation projects. The biggest grants are to go to the Wawel Royal Castle (2.9 million), the Wawel Cathedral (2.15 million), the Krzysztofory Palace at 35 Rynek Glowny central square (two millions), and the TyniecAbbey (1.9 million). 

Little Square in a Big Way 
Krakow’s Maly Rynek (the name translates as ‘Little Square’), the Old Town’s picturesque piazza just a block east of the city’s huge central Rynek Glowny plaza, has been fenced off as it undergoes renovation. The thorough refurbishment of the former medieval meat market is to be completed, fingers crossed, by June 2007 for the celebration of the 750th anniversary of Krakow’s self-government. After the facelift the square will be rid of parking cars for good. 

Museum Recess 
Krakow National Museum is closing for Easter. All its branches will stay closed on Holy Saturday, Easter Saturday and Monday, April 7-9. Later on, from Tuesday, April 10 till the end of the month three departments of The Czartoryskis Museum at 19 Sw. Jana street will stay shut – i.e. Gallery of Antique Art, European Handcraft, and Armory (the price of tickets will be reduced). 

Five Presidents to Talk Oil in the Wawel Castle
Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski hosts a two-day “energy summit” in Krakow on May 11-12. He has invited presidents of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Kazakhstan to the Wawel Royal Castle to discuss the transfer of the Caspian oil through their territories. Kazakhstan's president Nazarbayev opted to meet with Russia's Putin instead, sending to Krakow one of his ministers. 

Krakow’s Summit Explores the Caspian Oil 
Presidents of Poland, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Lithuania plus their entourages wreaked havoc on Krakow’s streets as they descended on the city May 11-12 to talk the transfer of the Caspian oil via their countries to the European Union. The encounter also produced a joint declaration supporting the scheme and promising creation of an inter-governmental task force to further it and a multinational company to carry on and cash in. A follow-up summit is to take place in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius in October 2007 possibly with the addition of the president of Kazakhstan. 

Krakow Film Festival: Short Is Beautiful 
This year’s 47th Krakow Film Festival, May 31 to June 5, will screen 46 movies – twenty documentaries, seventeen feature films, and nine animations. They have come from twenty countries, including nine British productions, five from France, and five from Russia. They have been selected from 2260 entries. Ever since its birth 46 years ago the Krakow Film Festival has been confined to short films, i.e. currently those lasting fifty minutes or less. The main festival venue is the Kijow playhouse at 34 Krasinskiego street. 

Not So Monumental 
Krakow’s city hall has foiled the erection of a monument to Prince Boleslaw the Shy, Poland’s ruler who granted Krakow self-government in 1257. Two consecutive designing competitions enticed a fair number of entries but have failed to produce a convincing sculpture. Thus once grandiose program for the June celebration of the 750th anniversary has been still further reduced. 

President Not Coming, Needs a Rest 
Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski has eventually opted out of Krakow’s much trumpeted 750th anniversary of the city charter. Official reason: he needs rest before a getaway with the American president George W. Bush in a resort on the Polish coast of the Baltic See. Yet the presidential absence is widely seen as a deliberate snub to Krakow’s leftist mayor and its centrist City Council from the right-wing Mr. Kaczynski. 

New Tunnel for Motorists 
230-meter-long, two-lane motorway tunnel under Krakow’s central train station and Galeria Krakowska giant shopping mall should ease congestion in the city center, at least somewhat. It opened on May 15 and cost some four million euro to build. The long overdue tunnel was originally conceived in 1975 as part of a thorough-going overhaul, now almost accomplished at last, of the so called Krakow Transportation Center (Krakowskie Centrum Komunikacyjne) consisting of the main rail station, the adjacent central bus depot, and new arteries in the area. 

Awards of the 47th Krakow Film Festival
United Kingdom’s filmmaker Daniel Mulloy scooped the Grand Prix of the 47th Krakow Film Festival while The Netherlands’ director Jeroen Berkvens was awarded with the Grand Prix in the category of full-length documentaries and Poland’s 22-old-student Rafal Skalski won its Polish leg. Since its conception in 1961 the yearly festival has been devoted to short films, and documentaries in the first place. This year it attracted 2260 entries from all over the world. 

Political Scandal Rocks the City 
Krakow has been rocked by news about the attempted suicide of the mayor’s acolyte and former campaign chief charged with being an accessory to the financial irregularities concerning zlotys 142,000 (about 37,000 euro) of campaign funds in 2002. Mr Andrzej Kulig, once the mayor of Krakow’s chief of staff and since 2005 the CEO of the University Hospital, is one of five persons accused in the case. Mayor Jacek Majchrowski dismisses the charges as a smear campaign by his political opponents. 

Rock Climbing Galore 
Poland’s biggest open-air rock-climbing center has opened on the premises of Krakow’s KS Hutnik sports club at 4 Ptaszyckiego street in the Nowa Huta district. As many as 64 climbers may scale at the same time three artificial crags 8 to 12 meters tall and eight 3.5-meter-high boulders totaling 500 square meters of climbing facilities. Admission costs an equivalent of three euro or so per person per day and the center is open till 10 p.m. 

New English Weekly in Krakow 
Foreign publishing partnership of Marshall Cominsz and Nicolaas Hoff, residents of the USA and the Netherlands respectively, has launched Krakow’s local weekly in English. ‘The Krakow Post’, a newspaper modeled on ‘The Warsaw Voice’ published in Poland’s capital city, deals with local issues as well as nationwide news stories. The publishers foresee the circulation of 10,000 copies to be distributed free of charge. 

Walk the Walls 
After half a century sightseers are allowed again to climb the remnants of Krakow’s medieval city walls next to the giant barbican and walk their parapet walk. The 180-meter tour starts in the Baszta Pasamonikow tower at the eastern end of Pijarska street at Szpitalna street. It includes the upstairs chapel in the 13th-century Brama Florianska gate tower, the Brama Stolarska tower to the west, and the barbican. They are accessible every day between 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. A ticket costs six zlotys, an equivalent of about 1.5 euro.  

Iconic Landmark of Today 
Krakow’s historic Old Town central district has got a distinctive modern structure in its heart. The brand-new ‘Wyspianski 2000’ brick building at the corner of Plac Wszystkich Swietych square and Grodzka street adjoins the City Hall and has been meant as a municipal information center. Yet that brainchild of Poland’s world-famous film director Andrzej Wajda was conceived in the first place as a frame to hold the stunning stained-glass windows that Stanislaw Wyspianski, Krakow’s greatest artist of the late 19th century, designed originally for the Wawel Cathedral in 1902. The sleek edifice designed by Krakow’s architect Krzysztof Ingarden cost euro 2.8 million to build.  

Stag Night Krakow Fever: Behave or Beware 
Police has declared a policy of zero tolerance in Krakow for misdemeanors of foreign visitors and promised to prosecute all transgressions, including littering, breach of the peace, and indecent behavior. Policemen, together with border guards and the municipal police, are to patrol intensively the city’s downtown as well as the central train station and its vicinity on Fridays and Saturdays till the end of September, popular nightspots to be watched most closely. It’s the response of the law enforcers to the complaints of residents, increasingly vocal in recent months, about unruly foreigners, notably young Britons who have taken a liking for stag parties and other drinking binges in Krakow. 

New Address of Municipal Offices for Entrepreneurs 
Effective July 9, Krakow’s municipality has moved its private enterprises department from the notoriously overcrowded front office at Powstania Warszawskie street to a nondescript office building at 28a Wielicka street, newly refurbished at a cost of euro two million. Clerks and their business customers have been allotted an entire story. The remaining five floors are meant for personnel catering to those Krakow citizens who live in the Podgorze district.

Krakow’s Tennis Player Wins Wimbledon 
17-year-old native of Krakow, Urszula Radwanska, won this year’s girls competition of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. On the same day, teamed with Russia’s rising tennis star Anastasia Pavluchenkova, she also won the girl doubles championship. Earlier Miss Radwanska had defeated Pavluchenkova in the single’s quarterfinal. 

Krakow Teen Beats Sharapova 
The city is agog with the news of Krakow’s teenage tennis player Agnieszka Radwanska’s surprise win over the defending champion Maria Sharapova in the third round of the US Open. The 18-year-old Radwanska, seeded No. 30, beat the world No. 2 in three sets 6–4, 1–6, 6–0 at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 1. Her defeat of the Russian tennis superstar has elevated Ms Radwanska to the status of a local hero on a par with Krakow’s Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica. 

Family Matters 
Surprise decision of Krakow’s quintessential politician to quit politics has electrified the city. Jan Rokita MP, one of the leaders of the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) party, announced his retirement in the wake of his wife’s appointment as adviser to President Lech Kaczynski associated with the rival PiS party led by twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Mr. Rokita, 48, former cabinet minister and a candidate for office of the country’s premier, has been Member of Parliament for Krakow since 1989 and one of Poland’s most recognizable political figures of the last decade. 

Election Ups and Downs 
Krakow has voted overwhelmingly for the main opposition party, Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) in the recent snap parliamentary elections on October 21. The centrist party has won 47.4 percent votes at the ballot in the city, compared to 41.4 percent it has secured nationwide. Its main opponents, the governing rightist Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc, PiS), have got 34.4 percent of the Krakow votes and 32.2 nationally. Two other parties that have scaled the five-percent threshold to win seats in Poland’s house of representatives, Sejm, the leftist Left and Democrats (Lewica i Demokraci, LiD) and the peasant Polish Popular Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL) have obtained 9.7 percent and 4.2 percent respectively in Krakow against 13.2 percent and 8.9 percent countrywide. At the same time, in Krakow 61.4 percent of eligible voters bothered to cast the ballots while the nationwide turnout proved record high at 54 percent. 

Museum of Medieval Art, Reactivation
Long overdue, Krakow’s renowned museum of medieval and baroque art reopens on October 19. The branch of the Krakow National Museum, it has been moved to the thoroughly renovated Palace of Bishop Erasmus Ciolek (Palac Biskupa Erazma Ciolka) of the early 16th century, 17 Kanonicza street, at the foot of the Wawel Royal Castle. The ground floor of the Renaissance lavish residence has been turned to a gallery of the Orthodox church art from the 15th century to the 20th century. Upstairs the museum exhibits the Polish medieval church art of the 15th and 16th centuries, a collection of portraits of the nobility from the 16th to the 18th century, and the ancient village art. 

Krakow Airport Is Schengen-Ready 
A separate departure area for ‘Schengen’ passengers has been added to the international terminal of the Krakow airport in Balice. The 3,000-sq-meter extension contains 15 new check-in desks and five new points for security checks. It has increased the Balice airport capacity to 3.5 million passengers a year and enabled a more secure five-stage processing of luggage now in place. The new facilities allow to separate ‘Schengen flights’ – i.e. to most of the continental European Union – from the non-Schengen ones. It makes the Krakow airport ready for Poland’s inclusion in the ‘Schengen area’ of abolished border controls on December 20. Even so, as regards air travel, the introduction of new rules will be postponed till March 2008. 

Museums for Free 
The city’s 21 museums plus the Botanic Garden may be visited free of charge on Sunday, November 25, declared the Krakow Museums Open-door Day. Last year  27,500 visitors took advantage of complimentary admission on similar occasion

Other Krakow's News Stories of the Past: 

Krakow Info news of 2009 

Krakow Info news of 2008

Krakow Info News of 2006

Krakow Info News of 2005

Krakow Info News of 2004

Krakow Info News of 2003

Krakow Info News of 2002

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