Vistula - about the name
The name was first recorded by Pomponius Mela in a.d. 40 and by Pliny in a.d. 77 in his Natural History. Mela names the river Vistula (3.33), Pliny uses Vistla (4.81, 4.97, 4.100). The root of the name Vistula is Indo-European *u?eis- ?to ooze, flow slowly? (cf. Sanskrit ?????? / ave?an ?they flowed?, Old Norse veisa ?slime?) and is found in many European rivernames (e.g. Weser, Viesinta).2 The diminutive endings -ila, -ula, were used in many Indo-European languages, including Latin (see Ursula).
In writing about the Vistula River and its peoples, Ptolemy uses the Greek spelling Ouistoula. Other ancient sources spell it Istula. Ammianus Marcellinus refers to the Bisula (Book 22), note the lack the -t-. Jordanes (Getica 5 & 17) uses Viscla while the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsith refers to it as the Wistla.3 12th-century Polish chronicler Wincenty Kadłubek Latinised the rivername as Vandalus, a form presumably influenced by Lithuanian vandu? ?water?, while Jan Długosz in his Annales seu cronicae incliti regni Poloniae called the Vistula ?white waters? (Alba aqua), perhaps referring to the White Little Vistula (Biała Wisełka): ?a nationibus orientalibus Polonis vicinis, ob aquae candorem Alba aqua ... nominatur.?
Cracow - cityscape
Kraków's historic centre, which includes the Old Town, Kazimierz and the Wawel Castle, was included as the first of its kind on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1978.72 The Stare Miasto is the most prominent example of an old town in the country.73 For many centuries Kraków was the royal capital of Poland, until Sigismund III Vasa relocated the court to Warsaw in 1596. The whole district is bisected by the Royal Road, the coronation route traversed by the Kings of Poland. The Route begins at St. Florian's Church outside the northern flank of the old city-walls in the medieval suburb of Kleparz; passes the Barbican of Kraków (Barbakan) built in 1499, and enters Stare Miasto through the Florian Gate. It leads down Floriańska Street through the Main Square, and up Grodzka to Wawel, the former seat of Polish royalty, overlooking the Vistula river. Old Town attracts visitors from all over the World. Kraków historic centre is one of the 13 places in Poland that are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The architectural design of the district had survived all cataclysms of the past and retained its original form coming from the medieval times. The Old Town of Kraków is home to about six thousand historic sites and more than two million works of art.74 Its rich variety of heritage architecture includes Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. Kraków's palaces, churches, theatres and mansions display great variety of color, architectural details, stained glass, paintings, sculptures, and furnishings.
Cracow and Golden Age
The 15th and 16th centuries were known as Poland's Złoty Wiek or Golden Age. Many works of Polish Renaissance art and architecture were created, including ancient synagogues in Kraków's Jewish quarter located in the north-eastern part of Kazimierz, such as the Old Synagogue. During the reign of Casimir IV, various artists came to work and live in Kraków, and Johann Haller established a printing press in the city after Kasper Straube had printed the Calendarium Cracoviense, the first work printed in Poland, in 1473.
In 1520, the most famous church bell in Poland, named Zygmunt after Sigismund I of Poland, was cast by Hans Behem. At that time, Hans Dürer, a younger brother of artist and thinker Albrecht Dürer, was Sigismund's court painter. Hans von Kulmbach made altarpieces for several churches. In 1553, the Kazimierz district council gave the Jewish Qahal a licence for the right to build their own interior walls across the western section of the already existing defensive walls. The walls were expanded again in 1608 due to the growth of the community and influx of Jews from Bohemia. In 1572, King Sigismund II, the last of the Jagiellons, died childless. The Polish throne passed to Henry III of France and then to other foreign-based rulers in rapid succession, causing a decline in the city's importance that was worsened by pillaging during the Swedish invasion and by an outbreak of bubonic plague that left 20,000 of the city's residents dead. In 1596, Sigismund III of the Swedish House of Vasa moved the administrative capital of the Polish?Lithuanian Commonwealth from Kraków to Warsaw