World Heritage City Mayor
February 2009. Lawyer, professor of law sciences at the Jagiellonian University (Uniwersytet Jagielloński), historian of political and legal doctrines. A specialist in the field of the Second Republic of Poland, documenting its history, particularly the activities of right-wing parties. Deputy Chairman of the State Tribunal during its previous term of office, at present - judge of the State Tribunal.
1. The city of Krakow was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. What changes has your city undergone since then?
The historic centre of Krakow was one of the first sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. UNESCO’s decision substantially boosted Krakow’s development and its international prestige and became an impulse to start the regeneration and renovation works in our city. The question of national heritage protection met with full social approval and the strategy and methodology applied during the local conservation works won wide recognition by national and international experts.
In 1978 the Civic Committee for Restoration of Krakow Heritage was established; since 1985 the organisation has been serving as the administrator of the National Fund for Renovation of Krakow’s Monuments. The image of Krakow has been also changed thanks to multimillion subsidies from the national budget.
The City of Krakow is proud of the renovation of its numerous monuments: the Old Town’s churches and palaces, the Wawel Hill with the royal castle, cathedral and fortifications as well as the former Jewish town of Kazimierz with its synagogues and cemeteries. The International Jewish Culture Festival made Kazimierz famous all over the world. Thanks to all its historic monuments, prestigious cultural events and exceptional atmosphere Krakow is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe; for the last couple of years the city has been visited annually by 8 million tourists.
2. What is your role in the management of heritage as the Mayor of a World Heritage city?
The fact that the historic centre of Krakow was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978 was not only a source of pride for its inhabitants but also a challenge for the future generations. Our national heritage is, and has always been, a magnet for tourists, investors, scientists and artists and the development of our city is inseparably connected with culture and science. This is why, when managing the city, I am particularly focused on Krakow’s sustainable development. I wish to confirm the city’s position as a competitive and modern economic centre which fully exploits its scientific and cultural potential and boasts a historic centre which is not an ethnographic museum, but rather a place of interest for tourists, investors and entrepreneurs.
3. What are the major enhancement projects of your city related to heritage (present and future)?
The protection of our heritage is a national duty accepted and executed by local authorities as well as the cooperating conservation and promotional services and urban planners. This obligation is included in Krakow’s development strategy which states that economic development of our city is closely connected with its heritage as well as the scientific and creative potential. According to these assumptions, the municipality subsidises conservation works and investment projects implemented by the owners of historic buildings.
The efforts to improve the condition of our heritage consist not only in securing funds for the safeguarding of world’s treasures, but also in international cooperation and exchange of expertise and experiences in this field. Krakow participates in this international discussion via the Organization of World Heritage Cities, ICOMOS, League of Historical Cities and thanks to the activities of the Jagiellonian University and the International Culture Centre which devote a lot of attention to interpreting and managing heritage.
4. Could you speak about the official celebrations to commemorate 30th anniversary of Krakow's inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List?
The celebrations under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński, and Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura were organised between September 5th and 7th 2008 in Krakow and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
The celebrations included a scientific conference with the participation of representatives of cities and sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978 and experts in the field of protection and restoration of historic buildings, as well as representatives of organisations involved in the conservation of heritage monuments. The presentations were primarily focused on the importance of national heritage in Eastern and Central Europe as well as problems of protecting, managing and promoting properties included on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The celebrations were accompanied by concerts and exhibitions presenting all 12 properties inscribed on the UNESCO List in 1978 as well as an exhibition of ex librises inspired by the history of Krakow and Poland and the concept of World Heritage.
The jubilee was an exceptional opportunity to exchange international experiences and popularise the idea of World Heritage as well as to celebrate a momentous event of utmost importance for Krakow and Wieliczka.
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