Over the last several decades, since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, Poland’s second largest city has propelled itself to the frontier of commerce on the continent
Despite retaining the archaic veneer of a slow-paced medieval Slavic town, the spirit of Kraków is anything but. Photography exhibitions, city-wide events, dramatic productions, music, film and art festivals, business conferences and student fairs, along with a whole myriad of other nationally and internationally organised functions, bring the various nooks and crannies of this cobbled city to life, week in, week out. It’s no surprise that Kraków is now at the centre of one of Europe’s few remaining business booms, and the likely centre of a number of new and innovative projects to transform it into a leading player in the global business conferencing industry.
Some of the world’s largest, most forward thinking businesses have flocked to the city now hailed as ‘Europe’s Silicone Valley’, and today the likes of Google, IBM, Samsung and Nokia, all operate expanding offices in the area. What’s more, Kraków has nurtured something of an entrepreneurial spirit, and small to medium sized enterprises have found it easy to flourish in the beautiful cobbled streets, under the shadow of the city’s gothic spires.
With business booming, Kraków has also opened its doors to international conferences in grand style. The city is home to a whole host of various venues, many nestled neatly somewhere in its medieval confines, and crucially, with easy access to the town’s enviable and award winning public transport system. In fact, Kraków boasts nearly 200 private conference and event venues, from hotel facilities to dedicated halls, all within reach from the centre.
One of Kraków’s currently largest hotel-cum-congress venues is the Gromada Hotel and Conference Centre. Here there’s over 5000 metres square of floor space that can accommodate larger conferences of up to 4000 participants, and can be divided into up to 15 smaller partitions if required. The hotel facility promises a full-frills experience, with on-site catering, parking facilities and good access to Kraków’s transport links.
Closer to the city’s centre, conference venues are available at the Kraków Opera House (room for 800), the Philharmonic Hall (room for just over 700), or the elegant Polish Baroque theatre of Juliusz Słowacki, sitting on the fringes of the Old Town, and a national emblem of Polish architecture. Smaller options are available in the heart of the Old Town, where private companies rent single rooms, many even overlooking the Rynek Głowny itself.
In 2014 and 2015 respectively, the city is set to open two brand new conference centres that will cater for Kraków’s growing following of congress tourists. The first, the Expo Kraków, will be a 13000 square metre centre just 7km north of the Main Square. The second, the magnificently designed ICE conference centre, is set to be one of Kraków’s modern architectural gems, and will be able to host events for up to 2000 delegates at a time.
With so many places to choose from, a good first port of call for prospective conference organisers is the Kraków Convention Bureau, an online database of all the city’s available venues. With advanced search options and detailed entries of each individual centre, the service makes it easy to find the perfect place to host any size or type of conference.
Kraków is unique in its position as a city with excellent links to its airport that sits just 20 minutes ride out of town, a fantastic public transport system, and a veritable cascade of various conference venues to choose from; from the historical to the utilitarian. This is a town alive with activity all year round, a place buzzing with energy, proven to be good for business.