Over the ages, Polish rulers repeatedly changed their headquarters. The effect of this is a common misconception about the number of real capitals of the country on the Vistula river. Despite all the controversy, historians solved the problem by picking 3 cities and dubbing them “capitals”. Thanks to those historians, we know that the first capital was Gniezno, the second was Cracov and the third and present one is Warsaw. The most amazing thing is that behind those names lies distinct history which is worth a closer look.
Legend says, that Gniezno was founded by Lech. He saw a vast valley surrounded by hills and set his heart to live there. On one of the hills grew a great oak, where a white eagle nestled itself. Lech took this as a fortunate sign and decided to settle there, name his stronghold “Gniezno” and use an eagle in his coat of arms. This name came from the Polish word “gniazdo” which means “nest”). History textbooks claim that it was Mieszko I and his baptism of Poland in 966. And the coronation of Bolesław Chrobrys in 1025. that made Gniezno the first polish capital.
Cracov became the Polish capital after a series of tragic events, which ended in destroying the Polish voivodeship of Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) by the hands of Brzetysław I. Thanks to Casimir I the Restorer it has gained its capital status until the third partition of Poland. A total of 32 coronations took place in castle Wawel.
Zygmunt III Waza in 1596. initiated the tradition of royal voyages from Cracow to Warsaw. He thoroughly enjoyed these voyages. In 1609. he settled in Warsaw for good and made it a capital. Even today there are many theories whether the capital was really relocated. The decision was never followed by any legal act, and the regalia remained in Cracow.
What is it to live in a country with three capitals? Gorgeous! Wherever you go, you can be sure you’ll spot a castle, trade route or aged church. That’s the essence of Poland – a country that is rich in the vestiges of history.