Oldest university turns 600 in 2000

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NEW YORK -- When Krakow celebrates its designation as a European Cultural Capital in 2000, its Jagiellonian University will mark a 600th anniversary with exhibitions and a carnival.

Jagiellonian, located in the Old Town quarters of Krakow, is the oldest university in Poland.

For centuries, the university has played a crucial role in preserving Polish culture and history, especially during the years of foreign partition and occupation. The university's most prominent professors were executed by the Nazis at the outbreak of World War II.

Among the university's notable alumni are the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus; Pope John Paul II; Pawel Wlodkowicz and Stanislaw ze Skalbierza, two of the architects of European international law; Zygmunt Wroblewski and Karol Olszewski, who first liquefied oxygen and nitrogen, and Napoleon Cybulski, a pioneer in the study of the hormone, adrenaline.

The 600th anniversary celebration officially began May 12, but festivities will last for two years, with the central jubilee events being scheduled for the beginning of the academic year 2000/2001.

As early as June 2000, there is expected to be an open-air event in the Main Market Square, and from May through October, an exhibition is planned on the Treasures of the Jagiellonian University.

Included in the exhibition will be objects from the university's collections, such as paintings and sculptures, historical scientific instruments and documents significant to the history of the university (seals, insignia, memorabilia of famous professors and graduates and bibliophile publications).

From Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2000, the village of Pychowice, where a new university campus is being built, will become the scene of the Grand Carnival.

The school was founded in 1364 by King Casimir the Great under the name The Krakow Academy. In 1400, King Ladislaus Jagiello added a department of theology and refounded the academy as a university with financing from Queen Hedwig (Jadwiga), who bequeathed her personal wealth to the school.

With the royal backing and its already established academic excellence, the university emerged as a leading center of Polish learning.

In late recognition of its founder and refounder, the university adopted the name the Jagiellonian University in 1881.

Polish Tourist Board
(212) 338-9412.

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