Krakow - host of The World Youth Day 2016
If you believe the legends, Krakow was founded on the defeat of a dragon, and it's true a mythical atmosphere permeates its attractive streets and squares. Wawel Castle is a major attraction, while the Old Town contains soaring churches, impressive museums and the Europe's largest market square. In the former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, remnant synagogues reflect the tragedy of the 20th century, just as its lively squares and backstreets symbolise the renewal of the 21st. However, there's more to the former royal capital than history and nightlife. As visitors walk through the Old Town, they will sometimes find themselves overwhelmed by the harmony of a quiet back street, the atmospheric nature of the architecture and lighting. It's at times like these that Krakow reveals its harmonious blend of past and present and is an essential part of any visit to Poland.
In 2016 Krakow will host World Youth Day which will be held between 26th and 31st July. Launched by St. John Paul II in 1985, World Youth Day is celebrated annually on a local level and every two or three years with an international gathering with the pope. Krakow was announced as the 2016 venue by Pope Francis at the last World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. World Youth Day will have the theme, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy" (Matthew 5:7), and will follow April 2016 church-state celebrations of the 1,050th anniversary of Poland's conversion to Christianity. Pope Francis is scheduled to lead a televised Way of the Cross procession from the city's Divine Mercy Sanctuary, followed by a prayer vigil on youth issues near the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and a final Mass in Krakow's Blonia Park.
Krakow during World Youth Days
The key events are the most important meetings of the World Youth Days during which all the young pilgrims will experience a great celebration of faith together.
The Opening Day Mass (Tuesday, 26/07)
World Youth Day in Krakow will officially start with the Opening Day Mass, which will be celebrated with local bishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. This is the moment in which the international nature of the event will be emphasised and Poland, the host of World Youth Day in Krakow, will be presented.
The Welcoming Ceremony (Thursday, 28/07)
This is an important event as it is the first meeting with the Holy Father, or the Welcoming Ceremony. It is a time of special happiness because of the presence of the Pope and the opportunity to pray together with him. This will be a service to hear the Word of God and the first address by the Holy Father. The ceremony will have an international nature.
The Way of the Cross (Friday, 29/07)
The Way of the Cross will be held on Friday, which will emphasise the penitential dimension of WYD. Traditionally, the WYD Cross is carried during this procession along the designated route while the young pilgrims follow and bear witness to their faith. The Way of the Cross will also take place simultaneously in several different locations in the city.
A Vigil with the Holy Father (Saturday, 30/07)
The most private moment is the vigil with the Holy Father. It is a very intense time of prayer and getting closer to Jesus Christ, generally a time of meditation and contentment. The youthful nature of WYD is demonstrated by this event.
The Holy Mass of the Messengers (Sunday, 31/07)
The concluding key event will be held on 31st July 2016, namely the Holy Mass of the Messengers, and will be celebrated by the Holy Father himself. It is a solemn finale of the WYD and the culmination of all the meetings. During the Eucharist, the Pope will "send out the young pilgrims, as his messengers, throughout the entire world". Finally, during the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father Pope Francis will announce, as is tradition, the location and date of the next World Youth Day.
Catechisms will be run in different languages by bishops from around the world. They will spread the message of the blessing to the pilgrims, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy", (Matthew: 5, 7), which was chosen by the Holy Father as the theme of the 31st World Youth Day in Krakow. Catechisms will take place throughout the city, not only in churches but also at other locations, which have been chosen so as to ensure that every young pilgrim could to take part in them. During the catechisms, priests will prepare the participants to understand the meaning of the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, which the young people can accept each day before noon. All catechisms will culminate in Eucharistic celebrations.
The Youth Festival (26-29/07)
This is a religious, artistic and cultural programme of events which will take place in the afternoons and evenings during the three days of catechisms, with the exception of the times when the Key Events are taking place. The Youth Festival consists of open and free initiatives with an artistic, religious or spiritual flavour. During this period of the WYD, pilgrims can choose to attend a variety of concerts, exhibitions, workshops and sporting or theatrical events. The Youth Festival will be prepared by the pilgrims for the pilgrims, so everyone will have the opportunity to take part not only as a spectator but also as an artist or an organiser.
The Vocational Centre (26-29.07)
The Vocational Fair will be an opportunity to present its activities to religious congregations, Catholic schools and universities, religious publishers, missionary organisations as well as national and international movements and communities. Its aim is to show young pilgrims the different ways to implement vocations in the Church and encourage them to seek answers to the question of what God expects from each one of us. The Vocational Centre will also give them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the spiritual wealth of the Church.
Apart from the offers typically available in the city every day, we have prepared special offers that are specifically aimed at the guests of World Youth Days.
Nights of Cracovia Sacra will be held between 25th and 28th July 2016. The leading theme of this project will be the phrase "Altera Roma" (Second Rome), which was how Krakow was often referred to at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Its structure, character and the richness of its programme of events has no equivalent in Europe. Already in the middle ages, Krakow was renowned for its large number of ornate churches and monasteries, its colourful celebrations, its elaborate rituals and was also an important centre of religious thought.
Held annually, the programme of Nights of Cracovia Sacra includes numerous concerts on a sacral theme, spoken and musical spectaculars and exhibitions. It also provides the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful churches located in Krakow and the surrounding area and to discover sacred monuments and works of art not accessible to ordinary mortals on a daily basis.
Free admission to selected museums - between 24th July and 4th August there will be free admission to the following exhibits:
- Schindler's Factory (a branch of the Historical Museum of Krakow) (advance booking of entry is required), Ul. Lipowa 4
- Krzysztofory Palace (the main exhibit of the Historical Museum of Krakow), Rynek Glowny 35
- The Museum of Urban Engineering, Ul. St. Wawrzyniec 15
- The Stanislaw Lem Garden of Experiences (an outdoor exhibit devoted to science), Al. Pokoju 68
In Malopolska Region
The Małopolska Region is very special. Here are the roots of Poland’s culture, science and national identity. To better understand Poland, start your exploration in Krakow and the region of Małopolska, where the magnificent past lives side by side with the sophisticated modernity.
14 places listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Apart from Kraków’s Historic Centre and Kazimierz District, the UNESCO list includes thirteen more sites situated outside Kraków, in the Małopolska Region.
- St Mary’s Sanctuary & The Calvary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska
- Auschwitz-Birkenau – German Nazi Concentration & Extermination Camp
- Royal Salt Mines & Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka
- Salt Mine in Bochnia
- St Michael the Archangel Church in Dębno
- Church of SS Philip & Jacob The Apostles in Sękowa
- St Michael the Archangel Church in Binarowa
- St Leonard Church in Lipnica Murowana
- Greek Orthodox Church of St Michael The Archangel in Brunary Wyżne
- Greek Orthodox Church of St Parascheva in Kwiatoń
- Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Mother of God The Protector in Owczary
- Greek Orthodox Church of St James The Lesser
The birthplace of St John Paul II is just 50 km outside Kraków and has the of John Paul’s II Family Residence, which is now a public museum.
254 sites along the Trail of Wooden Architectural Monuments
Charming little Catholic and Orthodox churches, imposing stately homes, countryside estates and simple village houses – all made of timber and embellished with wooden carvings. These are the sites you will find along the Trail, of which eight are entered into the UNESCO World Heritage list.
National Museum in Krakow
Exhibition: Maria – Mater Misericordiae
23rd June 2016 – 9th October 2016
Temporary Exhibition Hall, Main Building of the National Museum in Krakow, Al. 3 Maja 1
Masterpieces by famous masters such as Donatello, Mantegna, Vasari or El Greco will see at the "Maria – Mater Misericordiae" exhibition presented at NMK in June 2016.
This exhibition will be the only official art exhibition as part of World Youth Day Krakow 2016. It will be organised by the National Museum in Krakow in cooperation with the John Paul II Vatican Foundation for Youth. The Krakow exhibition will continue the presentation of sacral art that is organised in conjunction with World Youth Days at prestigious museums in the cities that have hosted this event (the Colorado History Museum in Denver, the Metropolitan Museum in Manila, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Museo Del Prado in Madrid).
In connection with the Year of Charity, celebrated by the Catholic Church at this time, there will be nearly 100 works of art on display in Krakow where the theme is Mary, the Mother of Mercy. These are the works of prominent Italian, French, Dutch and German artists which were creating their masterpieces between the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. We'll see images of the Virgin Mary in her mantle of guardianship, Mary showing her breast and many other popular images that in the Middle Ages and in the modern era have often been regarded as representing the notion of a merciful of Mary, the Pieta or the Virgin Mary nursing the Child.
Archaeological Museum, Kraków, ul. Senacka 3
“Małopolska A. D. 966” - a special exhibition open during World Youth Days to commemorate the 1050th anniversary of the baptism of Poland, combined with a permanent exhibition of “Małopolska during the prehistoric times and in the Early Medieval Period”
Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków, ul. Jana Pawła II 39
In addition to the permanent exhibition of aviation, a special presentation will be made of the Mi-8 helicopter used by John Paul II during his visits in Poland.
The John Paul II Institute of Multi-Cultural Dialogue, ul. Totus Tuus 30, Planty Krakowskie
An open air photographic exhibition in Kraków’s central location to commemorate previous meetings between Popes and the youth.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Between 18th July and 7th August opening hours at the Mine will be extended. A special programme of sightseeing has been prepared in Polish and also in 6 other languages which also includes sightseeing at night in the event of interest shown by the visitors. Tickets will be available on-line and advance booking will be required for visiting the attraction.
Detailed information and contact telephone numbers for both individual visitors and groups can be found on special tabs on our website. Please also find below links for all other available languages:
www.krakow2016.com – the official website of World Youth Day
www.krakow.pl – the official website of the city
www.krakow.travel – city tourist information
www.visitmalopolska.pl – tourist information of the Malopolska Region
www.kopalnia.pl – information about the Wieliczka Salt Mine
www.mnk.pl – website of the National Museum in Krakow (including special exhibition during WYD)
www.mhk.pl – website of the Historical Museum of Krakow (including selected free exhibitions during WYD)
www.mimk.com.pl – Website of the Engineering Museum of the City of Krakow (including selected free exhibitions during WYD)