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Archive News Stories of 2009 from Krakow Info

Year 2009 


Krakow On the Heels of Sydney 
Krakow has been designated the world’s second most favored city in 2008 by the Guardian, one of the UK’s top broadsheets. Over 17,000 of its readers returned completed questionnaires in an annual survey, voting for the best tourist destinations, attractions, carriers, etc. This year in the ‘favourite overseas city’ category Krakow has outdone all competitors except Sydney, ahead of San Francisco, Singapore, and Vancouver. 

Soldier Graves in the Krakow Area, Now Easy to Find 
Online service at provides information about graves of the fallen in all wars since 1655 till now in the Malopolska province. The website contains names of killed combatants of every nationality, their military posting, dates of their deaths, and situation of graves with photos of the sites. An interactive map and a search engine help to locate burial grounds. There are some 1,500 known military cemeteries and individual soldier graves in the Malopolska province of which a thousand or so have been catalogued to date by the website. The project is a joint venture of Krakow’s university students of the history faculty and the office of wojewoda, the province’s governor. 

Biggest But One 
Now it’s official – Krakow has become Poland’s second biggest city. According to the country’s Main Statistical Office, a governmental body, Krakow had 756,529 registered citizens by the end of September, and for the first time they outnumbered Lodz’s 755,234 legal residents. The capital city Warsaw is Poland’s biggest by far with nearly 1.8 million inhabitants. 

Krakow Eyes Euro 2012 
Krakow is desperate to host some of the events of the Euro 2012 continental football championships awarded jointly to Poland and Ukraine. The city council unanimously passed a resolution appealing to Michel Platini, the president of the UEFA, to choose Krakow as the site of the championship’s opening game as well as a semifinal and a quarterfinal in addition to qualifying matches in 2012. The city was originally assigned to a reserve as it lost to other Polish municipalities in the opening bid for the Euro 2012 events. Now it is among six remaining candidates. The UEFA is to make the final decision late in May, 2009. 

Malopolska: Tourism Ebbed in 2008, Somewhat 
In the last year the Malopolska province attracted 12.5 million visitors from Poland and abroad and most of them, over seven million came to Krakow – the provincial capital, the region’s metropolis, and its premier lure. The number of foreign tourists dropped to 2.7 million and they spent some 600,000 million euros. A quarter of all foreigners arrived in 2008 from the UK, 17.8 percent from Germany, 9.3 percent from Italy, 6.6 percent from Russia, 5.7 percent from France, 5.4 percent from Spain, 5.1 percent from the States, 4.3 percent from Ireland, four percent from Austria, and 3.7 percent from Slovakia. A typical visit to Malopolska lasted six days. An average American spent over 760 euros, an Italian 590-plus euros, a Russian some 560 euros, a Briton roughly 406 euros, a German 355.5 euros, while a Slovak a meager 165 euros. The greatest satisfaction with their visit declared Spaniards who gave it an average grade of 8.8 in scale from one to ten, compared to 8.5 mark awarded by Germans, Frenchmen, and Irishmen, 8.4 by Britons and Americans, 8.3 by Austrians and Italians, 7.9 by Russians, and 7.6 by Slovaks.

Krakow Opera House, the Overture 
Krakow Opera Company has got a brand-new and long overdue Opera House. The 12,000-sq-meter state-of-the-art building at 48 Lubicz street took four years to build at the cost of some 27 million euro. It contains two theaters that may seat 760 and 100 respectively. The premiere of ‘Devils of Loudun’, Krzysztof Penderecki’s operatic work, was chosen for the official opening of Krakow’s new Opera House on December 13, 2008.  

NATO Takes Krakow 

Krakow is the venue for a two-day conference of NATO defense ministers on February 19 and February 20. The conference, chaired by NATO Secretary General and hosted by Poland’s Minister of Defense Bogdan Klich, will try to charter the best course for the organization in 2009. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is to represent the Barack Obama new administration. The Polish organizers expect a contingent of some 200 experts and 300 foreign journalists to descend on the city besides official delegations and staffs.  

Enters Krak, Krakow’s Token Coin 
City of Krakow has issued its own currency, sort of, and called it krak. Its tokens come in the form of coins produced by Poland's mint, Mennica Polska, and called ducat (the Polish spelling dukat). The reverse of the coin depicts traditional Lajkonik pageant with St. Mary’s church in the background while the other side is emblazoned with a stylized letter K with a crown and a floral pattern. Krakow's brass “ducat” has the face value of four kraks, one krak being the equivalent of one zloty, Poland's official currency. The city's shops accept the tokens from April 3 to May 31 and afterwards they become souvenirs and – hopefully – a collector’s items. Affluent collectors may opt for one of 2,000 silver “coins” with the price tag of 200 zloties or even a 24-carat gold “ducat” that costs 2,500 zloties. The mayor of Krakow, Professor Jacek Majchrowski, said the municipality would issue a new coin twice a year – one before Easter, another ahead of Christmas – till 2014. The whole series is to have Krakow’s legends as its theme.  

Krakow Film Festival 
49th Krakow Film Festival, May 29 to June 4, attracted more than 2,200 entries from all over the world. Its selection committee chose 94 movies for the festival three independent competitions – 51 for the short film international contest (19 documentaries, 17 animations, and 15 live action), 12 for the documentary feature international contest, and 31 for the Polish domestic contest. Their respective trophies are Golden Dragon, Golden Horn, and Golden Lajkonik. This year’s honorary award for lifetime achievement went to Krakow’s animation Jerzy Kucia. Miscellaneous auxiliary events included retrospective of films with scores composed by late Krzysztof Komeda on the 40th anniversary of his premature death. 

Wawel Castle Hosts European Leaders on June 4 
The Eastern European Leaders meet in Krakow June 4 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the demise of communism in the region and the dawn of the independence of their countries from the Soviet empire. On June 4, 1989 Poland held the first democratic elections in the Eastern Europe since World War II and thus it set in motion the train of events that brought freedom to the rest of the then Warsaw Pact, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and ended communist rule in Europe. The heads of states and governments will convene in Krakow’s Wawel Royal Castle. At the same time, the city will host a concurrent meeting of the youth delegations from the Eastern Europe. The event was originally meant to take place in Gdansk and the Polish government has moved it to Krakow in the face of the massive demonstrations planned by the Gdansk shipyard’s trade unionists in protest against the looming liquidation of their workplace. The Solidarity trade union has threatened to stage a mass rally in Krakow as well. 

Malopolska Elected Its MEPs 
In the wake of the latest general election on Sunday, June 7 seven deputies will represent Malopolska Province together with smaller Swietokrzyskie Province in the European Parliament. Right-wing PiS (Law and Justice) party got three MEPs - Zbigniew Ziobro, Pawel Kowal, and Wladyslaw Wlosowicz. Center-right PO (Civic Platform) sends two MEPs to Strasbourg, Roza Thun and incumbent Boguslaw Sonik while Czeslaw Siekierski and Joanna Szenyszyn will represent respectively PSL (Polish Peasants' Party) and SLD (Alliance of the Democratic Left). Voter turnout in Malopolska/Swietokrzyskie was 26.1 percent compared to 24.5 percent for entire Poland. 

Tour de Pologne, the Finish in Krakow 
This year’s 66th Tour de Pologne will culminate with the finish on the streets of Krakow on Saturday, August 8th. The 1253-kilometer, seven-stage cycling race starts in Warsaw on August 2nd. Poland’s Tour de Pologne is part of the main UCI Pro Tour professional cycling circuit alongside Tour de France, Italy’s Giro d’Italia, or Spain’s Vuelta a Espana. All top teams are expected to show up with their star cyclists. Poland’s national team of eight has been given a wild card. First stage of the 2009 Tour de Pologne is a 108-kilometer city circuit race in Warsaw. Next three stages run through the mostly flat eastern half of Poland with finishes in Bialystok, Lublin, and Rzeszow. Last three legs of the race take place in the country’s mountainous south. Most strenuous is the 162-kilometer stage between Kroscienko and Zakopane, in the Malopolska Province, that includes eleven mountain time bonuses, with a first-class uphill stretch ending 1140 meters above sea level. The first Tour de Pologne took place in 1928. The 66th Tour de Pologne will end with the finish at Krakow's Blonia common, expected between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on August 8th. Prior to it the race is to circle Rynek Glowny central square

Pray for Peace, Remember War in Krakow  
Archbishop Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz invited leaders of the world's major religions to Krakow this September for a common prayer for peace. Some 500 key religious figures arrived from all over the world for a three-day Congress for Peace – People and Religions, September 6th to September 8th, 2009. The meeting is to launch yearly inter-religious supplications to make the Earth a peaceful place for the entire mankind. Similar events took place every year in Assisi during the lifetime of Pope John Paul II. The first Krakow peace congregation was organized by Italy’s Sant'Egidio Community and the Krakow Archdiocese to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939. Besides the Catholic prelates, the congress gathered prominent members of the clergy of other Christian denominations as well as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Jainism, and Parseeism. The guest list includes Israel’s chief rabbi Yona Metzger and heads of the ancient oriental churches Karekine II Katolikos, Abuna Paulos, and Chrysostomos II. On Sunday, September 6th, the first day of the congress, its program consists of the morning meeting of Christians in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy followed by afternoon opening session in Auditorium Maximum of the Jagiellonian University. The second day, September 7th, was set aside for panel discussions. Finally, there was planned a visit to Auschwitz on September 8th, followed by a common prayer for peace and later in the evening – on Krakow’s Rynek Glowny central square – an appeal to the world for peace. 

Poland's Luminaries to Debate Polish Culture in Krakow. 
Krakow hosts the 6th Congress of Polish Culture, September 23rd through September 25th. Previous such highbrow powwows took place in the years 1910, 1936, 1966, 1981, and 2000. This year’s Polish Culture Congress gathers 1,100 of the country’s first-rate luminaries and celebrities to debate such noble and pressing issues as the impact of Poland’s transformation and accession to the EU, changes in the government’s handling of culture over the last two decades, desirable directions in the cultural policy of the state, and challenges brought by globalization. The congress consists of 26 symposia grouped into three clusters. The first one, called ‘Creative Space’, deals with literature, music and the visual arts. Another, ‘Institutions for Culture’, comprises discussions about modernization of cultural life and the use of the new tools and technology. And lastly, ‘Culture in Society’ pertains to the functions of culture in contemporary society and the relation between culture and the Polish national identity. The congress has been preceded by a series of 22 reports that total 5,000 pages published online at whose authors tried to provide a basis the assessment of particular manifestations of culture, from book publishing to various performing arts to the preservation of national heritage. The same web site is to transmit live deliberations from the congress venues in Auditorium Maximum of the Jagiellonian University at 35 Krupnicza street and the Jagiellonian Library at 22 Mickiewicza avenue. The 6th Congress of Polish Culture is also an occasion for a number of special cultural event, including two open-air concerts on Krakow’s Rynek Glowny central square, on September 23rd and September 24th, four exhibitions incorporated into the International Print Triennial, and two installations by Germany’s artist Ottmar Horl and Poland’s Miroslaw Balka respectively. Program council of the 6th Congress of Polish Culture, chaired by Professor Piotr Sztompka, consists of Stanislaw Beres, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Agnieszka Holland, Zina Jarmoszuk, Andrzej K. Kozmiński, Jerzy Kozmiński, Michal Merczynski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Maria Poprzecka, Ada Rottenberg, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Andrzej Rottermud, Andrzej Wajda, Antoni Wit, and Edmund Wnuk-Lipinski. 

The Big Print 
International Print Triennial - Krakow 2009
has attracted some 6,000 entries from all corners of the world. This year's contest with a series of accompanying shows is already the 19th incarnation of one of the world's biggest festivals of graphic arts. Originated in Krakow in 1966 as a biennial event, it was organized every second year in the city until it morphed into a triennial in 1991. Jury of the International Print Triennial - Krakow 2009, chaired by Dr. Richard Noyce, awarded the Grand Prix d’ Honneur to Bosnia’s Mersad Berber. Another main prize, Grand Prix, goes to Poland’s Joanna Piech for a couple of her black-and-white engravings. Main exhibition of the 2009 International Print Triennial takes place in Bunkier Sztuki art gallery, 3a Plac Szczepanski square at Planty gardens, from September 17th to October 11th. It shows over 300 best entries for the competition, including all awarded prints. Program of the 2009 International Print Triennial consists of nearly sixty exhibitions, 26 in Krakow and the rest in various Polish cities. They display a total of 5,500 works of artists from 70 countries. Apart from the main exhibition, Krakow's other highlights of the latest print triennial include the show in the Krakow National Museum at 1, 3 Maja street which displays works by the winners of the Taiwan International Print Biennial (September 15th to October 25th). Exhibition 'Polish Graphic Arts - Art and Education' in the Palace of Art at 4 Plac Szczepanski square shows Poland's roster of contemporary artists devoted to printmaking (September 14th to October 9th). 

British Pigeon Abusers Arrested in Krakow 
Two Britons will be brought to justice for tormenting pigeons in central Krakow. They were catching the birds on the Old Town’s central square where trusting pigeons flock to tourists who feed them. Next the playful Brits threw the birds in the air. Apprehended in the act, both males have pleaded guilty and petitioned for a fine instead of a trial. Even as the public prosecutor has accepted the deal, the local court may reject it. If so, the two Britons will be awaiting trial in a district court in Krakow on charges of cruelty to animals. In Poland the crime is punishable by up to twelve months’ imprisonment. Investigation revealed that abused pigeons suffered broken wings and other injuries. 
None of the offenders offered an explanation of the incident. They agreed to pay a fine of 600 zloties, i.e. an equivalent of about 150 euro. Up to now the typical British transgressions in the city consisted in brawling between stags partying in Krakow, indecency, drinking in the open air, smoking at bus stops, and generally breaches of the peace.  

Soccer Champs Skip Krakow for a Year 
Krakow’s top soccer team, Wisla Krakow, which won Poland’s 2009 football championship last May, second time in a row and twelfth in the history of the club, will not play in the city for the next twelve months. Its stadium at 22 Reymonta street is undergoing modernization and expansion that is scheduled to last till June 2010. For the time being Wisla is going to use football stadium in the city of Sosnowiec, some 70 kilometers west of Krakow.

Other Krakow's News Stories of the Past: 

Krakow News of 2010

Krakow Info News of 2008

Krakow Info News of 2007

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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