It's natural border on the north is the Baltic Sea with two big rivers flowing into it: the Odera and the Vistula. The middle and northern parts of the area are plains and low mountains. South the sandy beaches is the 200-300 meters high, marshy Poland-lowland. The lowland is bordered on the south by the Silesian-pool, the Polish-headland, the Sudetan-mountains and the Carpathians. The country's Polish name (Polska) means flat, grassy country.
It's climate is wet-continental. Cold, rough winters are usual here because of the unbolted northern parts. The winters frequently has a temperature of –25, -30 o C.
Poland's first capital was Cracow, which is one of the most beautiful Polish cities with full of monuments. It's castle, the Wawel taunt over the river Vistula.
In the middle-ages Cracow was the richest city of Poland. According to the legend it was estabilished by the chietain called Crac. The knight saved the inhabitants from a dragon-attack.
In the 10th century the piasts has built a castle on the hill which is the symbol of the Polish kingdom, but in 1241 the Tartars has ruined this city, what was rebuilt by prince Boleslaw. By his successor's ,Great Casmir's time the chess-board-like system of roads has emerged.
The golden age of Cracow is in connection with the Jagello's . They estabilished the Alma Mater Cracoriensis , which is the oldest university in Middle-Europe after Prague. The city of the kings, the merchants and the artists joined the alliance of hanza-cityes at about 1430.
The development slowed by Wasa Sigismund the 3rd's domination, because he moved his residence to Warsaw. The occupants comforted themselves whit this statement:
„The government lives in Warsaw, the culture lives in Cracow!”
Cracow was esteemed to the pearl of Poland in the middle-ages. It became the centre of cloth-trade in the 14th century. We can find relics thereof as the cloth-house and the hundred-meter long cloth-hall, the Sukiennice. On the ground floor of the hall there are small shops selling Polish folk art nowadays. Upstairs trere is an exhibition of the 19th century painting from the region.
Due to the city's strong relationship with Nuremberg, the nurembergian Veit Stoß (polish Wit Stwosz) got the assignment to built the altar of the Maria-temple.
On the allegorical importance hill of Wawel there is a cathedral and a renaissance-style mansion. Around the gothic temple there are 18 chapels situated with the corpses of famous Polish majesties. In the crypt rests Adam Mickiewicz, one of Poland's greatest poet. But it isn't only a funeral even a crowning place. Crowning cloaks and valuable goldsmith's works are kept here. The mansion was built by Italian craftsmen, it's furniture, painting, workmanship, and tapestry collection makes it to one of Europe's significant artistic center.
Cracow was saved from the bombardment of the 2nd World War, but during the german occupation many artifact were lost forever. A populous Jewish commonwealth had lived in Kazimierz (one of Cracow's district), but all of them were carried off and exterminated. The only thing remind them is an exhibition at the Historical Museum of Cracow.
The other pictures are in the galery.