To experience the meeting with Europe, you don't have to leave Krakow for Paris, Vienna or Rome. Europe is here and it is in a good shape. Millennia of uninterrupted cultural heritage and history, who peers from the towers, portals and cornices of hundreds of monuments, are felt at every step. "They sleep – vigilant” – there is an inscription above the entrance to the royal crypts in Wawel – "fasten, are watching ". It is impossible to understand the eternal strength of Krakow, not knowing, even briefly, history of this city.
Prehistory of Krakow
Krakow's prehistory does not stand out from the rest of the country. Paleolithic mammoth hunters lived on the Wawel Hill and other hills. On the Hill of Bl. Bronisława, even their two huts made of mammoth tusks and bones were discovered. Almost everywhere, archaeologists encounter flint tools, some of which in the original, a much improved type belongs to the Prądnik culture (from the name of the Krakow river).
The Celts settled this area around 200 years before Christ. Their presence in an ethnic sense, and not only in the form of material influences, though long questioned, no longer raises any doubts. Especially many finds come from the area of today's Nowa Huta - around Mogiła, Needle, Pleszów. On high, Celtic settlements with huts were excavated on the loess bank of the Vistula, craft enterprises, grain warehouses, metallurgical complexes. In the vicinity of Mogiła, over 90 kilns for mass firing of ceramics, and in the neighboring ones – Pleszów and Igołomia – at least the same number of iron smelters. With a certain amount of self-denial, you can go to Igołomia–Zofipol and find in the area an archaeological reserve exhibiting the remains of this metallurgical center. Calculates, that the open ovens could be used to make half a million vessels. Production on such a large scale made Krakow second in Europe, around the Rhineland, the center of pottery production in this era, It also testified to a market that was quite absorptive at that time. The population density of the regions near Krakow from the Celtic times is estimated at 10 inhabitants per km, which is the upper limit for this era. Apart from pottery, metallurgy and metallurgy were well developed: axes were produced, knives, sickles, chisels, needles, clasps etc., non-ferrous metals were melted and processed. There was even a pre-mint here, as evidenced by three Celtic coin-casting molds found in these areas. It was the Celts who popularized money in Central Europe, horseshoes, chariots and mechanical reapers. It is not known only, where the nephews of Asterix and Obelix had their fortified town, and where is the center of worship.
Hun's invasion in the 5th century. dealt a death blow to Celtic culture. Then came the Slavs and others 250 years have reigned the "dark ages,”Which left no traces of material culture; when it comes to settlement, perhaps it has completely disappeared in those days. Around the 8th century. The large-scale organism of the Vistula state began to form. There are small fragments of the mighty one at Wawel, an earth embankment surrounding the entire hill with a chamfered structure. It was certainly not the work of the first Piasts, for these were content with fortifications 1/4 hills, and most likely it is to them that we owe its complete destruction. In the basement of the house at ul. Kanonicza 13, in a chest from the 9th century. found 4200 iron axes, the so-called placids, with a total weight of over 4 your. Such axes were the basic means of payment in the neighboring Great Moravian State. Krakow's treasure is the largest, ever found and testifies to the wealth and importance of the local center of power. At the foot of the Wawel Castle, in the vicinity of today's ul. Kanonicza, Grodzka and the neighboring areas, the remains of the Vistula settlement were found, called Okól. It existed at least from the beginning of the 9th century., it was surrounded by a huge oak palisade and bordered on the side of today's Straszewskiego and św. Gertrude one of the branches of the Vistula. Near the Main Square, or more precisely, church of st. Wojciech, Mariackiego and ul. Bracka, the remains of the residential buildings of Krakow in Vistula were discovered, handicraft establishments (in which non-ferrous metals were melted and processed), and under the church of St.. Adalbert, the remains of a wooden temple were located.
During this archaic period, Wista split into many branches and formed several islands in the city center today. It sure is, that one of them was Kazimierz, but a supposition should be considered probable, that the three settlement centers of Wiślanie: Wawel, The surroundings and the area of today's Market Square were also separated by arms or dug moats. The remains of ancient buildings are the most controversial, found at Wawel – very difficult to date, and almost impossible to integrate into the "official" history of Poland. On the Wawel Hill, during engineering works, the remains of nearly ten stone pre-Romanesque buildings were discovered, distinguished by their archaic technique. They make Wawel the second, next to Velehrad – the capital of Great Moravia (VIII-X w.) – pre-Romanesque center in this part of Europe and pose great difficulties for historians to interpret.
The first mentions of Krakow appear in the second half of the 9th century. The Bavarian geographer and his contemporaneous Description of King Alfred's Germania list in detail small Silesian tribes, and to the east of them they place the unified "land of the Vistula” (Wisleland). Lives of St.. Methodius (end of the 9th century) they speak of a pagan prince, very powerful, sitting on the Vistula River, which insulted Christians and did them harm, and in accordance with the announcement of St.. Methodius, he was baptized against his will and in a foreign land. In the past, people hesitated to apply this mention to Krakow, but now, when you know, that Wiślica is not ancient enough and we will also take into account the location of Krakow at that time on several Vistula islands (Wislech – plural), becomes clear, that it is about some unrepentant Krakow conservative.