no. 27 (2017)

Krakow and the World

The International Cultural Centre sees its mission and udertakings as founded on what is labelled as cultural heritage, namely using the elements of the past so as to serve present and future goals. The city understood as a mirror of civilisation – let’s take Krakow as an example – was always at the core of this way of thinking. That is why we believe that the debate on the nature of the city as well as the transformation which Krakow has undergone is crucial.

Today, an inquiry into Krakow’s metropolitan functions is not merely an investigation of its place in the European settlement network, its relationship with the outside world and the nature of its ongoing change (which is impossible to overlook if one only takes a stroll across the Main Square). It is also a question regarding competitive assets of cities like Krakow. Presently, large cities seem to have two main characteristics: acceptance of others and intolerance of mediocrity. Interestingly, however, only a selected few urban settlements can foster new intellectual qualities. The level of a city’s creativity depends on multiple factors: political and economical indicators, but also the amassment of cultural, educational and informative elements, offering synergistic possibilities, which are an essential condition for the emergence of creativity and innovation. I believe we should turn to these factors for the source of a new vision for Kraków. It is not, nor will it ever be, a global metropolis, but it has all the makings of a creative city.

Even if Krakow is hardly the heart of Central Europe, it does remains an element of the urban network that composes its core. It seems, then, that it is worth asking about the specificity of our Kulturraum, the cultural space symbolised by Central European metropolises. What is it that sets them apart from urban settlements elsewhere in the world (if they are indeed perceptibly different)? And has Central European identity suffered as a result of the twenty‑five years of rapid cultural change?

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