Annual Meeting
Kraków 2018

Local History


Cracow (Polish: Kraków) is one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula river, the city dates back to the 7th century. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596 and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918. The earliest known settlement on the area was established on Wawel Hill, and dates back to the 4th century. Legend attributes the town's establishment to the mythical ruler Krakus, who built it above a cave occupied by a ravenous dragon, Smok Wawelski.

Before the Polish state had been formed, Kraków was the capital of the tribe of Vistulans, subjugated for a short period by Great Moravia. After Great Moravia was destroyed by the Hungarians, Kraków became part of the kingdom of Bohemia. The first appearance of the city's name in historical records dates back to 966, when a Sephardi Jewish traveller, Abraham ben Jacob, described Kraków as a notable commercial centre under the rule of the then duke of Bohemia; and mentioned the Baptism of Prince Mieszko I as the first historical ruler of Poland. Mieszko took Kraków from Bohemians and incorporated it into the holdings of the Piast dynasty towards the end of his reign.

By the end of the 10th century, Kraków was a leading center of trade. The medieval Kraków was surrounded by a 3 km defensive wall complete with 46 towers and seven main entrances leading through them, including the famous Barbican. This defensive system appeared in the second half of the 13th century. Kraków rose to new prominence in 1364, when Casimir III, a king of Poland founded the Cracow Academy, the second university in central Europe after the University of Prague and the early ancestor of the present Jagiellonian University.

The rich history of Kraków is well preserved and presented in the "Under the Main Square" Museum located... simply under the main market plate.

Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science (your Venue!)

Today the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science of the Jagiellonian University is located at the Third Campus (Campus of the 600th Anniversary of the Jagiellonian University Revival). You can find it in the district “Dębniki”, outside the strict center of Kraków. However, there are still some original buildings of the Jagiellonian University in the Old Town. The most famous is probably Collegium Maius, dating back to the 14th century.

Astronomical Observatory

In 1964, the 600th Anniversary of the Jagiellonian University was celebrated. This was the year when the Nicolaus Copernicus' Observatory was moved from the city centre to Fort Skala. 5 domes and a new building for administration and teaching was built. The observatory was equipped with the 35-cm diameter Maksutov (since 1965) and the 50-cm Cassegrain (since 1970) telescopes, both made by C. Zeiss Optics in Jena. There were also two radio telescopes built, with diameters of 7 m (the older one, upgraded to 8 m in 1994) and 15 m.

Read more: the whole history of the observatory at Fort 38 Skała.