Krakow Has Been Named a UNESCO City of Literature!


Krakow has received the title of UNESCO City of Literature, the organization heads announced on Monday

Krakow has received the title of UNESCO City of Literature, the organization heads announced on Monday. This is the result of over three years of efforts to gain recognition for the city's literary accomplishments, along with its festivals and events devoted to literature.

Krakow is the first Central/Eastern European city - and the second non-English one, following Reykjavik - to be named a UNESCO City of Literature .

On Monday at 12:30 p.m. Krakow's city mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, made an announcement concerning UNESCO's decision, stressing that the title has the mark of prestige, but that it also provides the opportunity to use EU funds to promote reading, for example.

Since 2010 Krakow's literary community has been working to make Krakow a UNESCO City of Literature. The formal application was submitted in late 2011, and the process was coordinated by the Krakow Festival Bureau.

Many writers and poets live in Krakow. Nobel Prize winners Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz were tied to the city, as was the recently deceased playwright Sławomir Mrożek. Meetings of poets from the East and the West were organized in the city. Since 2009 there have been two large festivals of literature: the Miłosz Festival, and the Conrad Festival, which begins this Monday. The Book Institute and many publishers have their headquarters in Krakow.

In 2011 the city joined the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), helping writers who, because of oppression, cannot live and work freely in their own country. Krakow has hosted two writers in the framework of the ICORN program: Maria Amelie, a writer of Russian extraction who, after writing a book detailing the experience of an illegal immigrant, was deported from Norway, and Kareem Amer, an Egyptian blogger sentenced to prison for criticizing the government of Hosni Mubarak.

Krakow is the seventh UNESCO City of Literature. Previous winners of the title have been Edinburgh (Great Britain), Melbourne (Australia), Iowa City (USA), Dublin (Ireland), Reykjavik (Iceland), and Norwich (Great Britain).