Kraków has always stood at the forefront of Poland’s transformations, and it is still keeping a step ahead: it regards respect for multiculturalism as a fundamental value, especially given that one in ten Cracovians come from outside of Poland.
Multiculturalism is in Kraków’s DNA. No-one in Kraków even wonders whether openness and acceptance of others is right; they are the axiom of Cracovian attitudes rooted in history and tradition. There can be no Kraków other than multicultural, open to Jewish, Tatar, Armenian, Ukrainian and Roma communities.
Since its earliest days Kraków developed in the context of cultural influences from all over Europe, through international relations, intellectual networks and legal, political and economic connections. It was granted city rights under German law in the Middle Ages, while the 16th century it was marked by the rule of Queen Bona (of the powerful House of Sforza of Milan), wife of King Sigismund I the Old. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Kraków was visited by Veit Stoss from Nuremburg, Justus Ludwik Decjusz (friend of Erasmus of Rotterdam), the Italian humanist Filippo Buonaccorsi (Callimachus) and the sculptor Bartolomeo Berrecci. Kraków of those days with its Kraków Academy (revitalised in 1400) was a cultural melting pot and haven for people from myriad cultures and religions. The legacy of the openness for multiculturalism can be traced in some of the buildings including the Turkish House and Muslim Centre at Długa Street, the Orthodox Church at Szpitalna Street, several protestant churches and numerous beautifully restored synagogues in the Kazimierz district.