Kraków joins UNESCO Cities of Literature

Kraków joins UNESCO Cities of Literature

Kraków has been named a UNESCO City of Literature, the seventh holder of the prestigious title alongside Edinburgh, Melbourne, Iowa City, Dublin, Reykjavik, and Norwich in England. UNESCO’s City of Literature program is part of the organization’s Creative Cities Network.

Market Square wits St Mary and St. Adalbert Churches, Krakow: photo - Wikipedia

Market Square wits St Mary and St. Adalbert Churches, Krakow: photo – Wikipedia

The announcement by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, marks the crowning of three years of efforts by Krakow’s cultural milieu and Edinburgh, its partner city, to have the city’s literary traditions and its present literary scene recognized on an international forum.

Krakow’s application won the support of over 150 prominent writers, including Nobel Prize winners Orhan Pamuk, Mario Vargas Llosa and Herta Mueller.

Welcoming the UNESCO decision, mayor of Krakow Jacek Majchrowski, said few cities are honored with such a title.

The mayor recalled that it was in Kraków, in 1508, the first book in the Polish language was published, under the title ‘The History of the Martyrdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ’ by an anonymous author, and that Kraków has an extensive network of public libraries and publishing houses.

Kraków also serves as the venue for two major literary festivals, an annual Joseph Conrad Festival and the bi-annual Czesław Miłosz Festival, and hosts an annual Book Fair and ‘Meetings of Poets from the East and West’, which attracts more than 35,000 visitors.

Kraków was the home of Wisława Szymborska, the Nobel Prize in Literature winner in 1996, throughout her long life until her death last year, and for many years of Czesław Miłosz, the 1980 Nobel Prize winner, plus Sławomir Mrożek, who died last August.

John Kenyon, executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, said Krakow was a welcome addition to the network.

“I had the pleasure of travelling to Krakow last year, and what I found was a vibrant literary city that celebrates deep heritage and enormous potential,” he said.


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