The University of Iowa

Welcome Krakow, the newest City of Literature

This month Krakow, Poland, became the seventh UNESCO City of Literature, joining Edinburgh, Melbourne, Norwich, Dublin, Reykjavik, and Iowa City. Krakow is home to two literary festivals – the annual Conrad Festival and biannual Milosz Festival – and also hosts an annual Book Fair that attracts more than 35,000 visitors. Krakow’s publishing scene also helped secure their place on the UNESCO list. Krakow publishers issue more than 3,000 titles annually and receive the largest number of nominations for leading Polish literary awards.  Within the city limits there are nearly 30 antiquarian bookshops and almost 80 bookstores.

Krakow has been home to multiple Nobel Prize winners, most notably Henryk Sienkiewicz (author of Quo Vadis), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1905, Czesław Miłosz (author of The Captive Mind and Family Europe), the 1980 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and Wisława Szymborska (author of Calling Out to Yeti and People on the Bridge), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996, who lived in Krakow for most of her life.

The city itself is home to many historical landmarks of literary significance, claiming the oldest bookshop in Europe and a monument to Adam Mickiewicz, poet, dramatist, essayist, and political activist widely regarded as Poland’s greatest poet.

“We think of this newly acquired title as a commitment to the vibrant literary community across the city and we embrace the opportunity to share the best Krakow has to offer with cultural hubs around the world,” said Robert Piakowski, coordinator of Krakow UNESCO City of Literature.


Krakow, UNESCO City of Literature website

Iowa City, UNESCO COty of Literature