City Codes

In autumn 2017, more Krakow locations will receive literary patronage. On the eve of Krakow’s major literary event, the Conrad Festival and the accompanying Book Fair, we revive memories of i.a. artists connected with Nowa Huta, a district which is very interesting and eccentric, though nowadays slightly overlooked. New literary benches have already sprung up in the Town Hall Park, and more will soon appear in Krakow’s centre. This is yet another outcome of the City Codes project, implemented by the Krakow Festival Office, holder of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature title.

The project commemorates, among others, the following contributors to Nowa Huta’s literary heritage: Wojciech Bogusławski, Jan Brzechwa, Maria Dąbrowska, Ryszard Kapuściński, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Hugo Kołłątaj, Tadeusz Konwicki, Paweł Majka, Artur Międzyrzecki, Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Renata Radłowska, Wiktor Woroszylski and Stefan Żeromski. New centre-based literary benches will bear such names as: Maciej Słomczyński, Tadeusz Śliwiak and Jerzy Waldorff-Preyss.

All benches are furnished with special plates bearing author names and special QR codes. Once scanned, a QR code takes you directly to a website with an author’s biography and fragments of his or her work. All existing literary benches and Krakow’s selected major literary locations can easily be found by means of the website’s interactive map.

The City Codes project is much more than a well-endowed multimedia e-library which helps document Krakow’s multi-century literary life and accommodate text fragments, invaluable archival recordings, photographs and biographies of key literary and cultural figures. Scattered across urban space, these visually appealing plates of literary patrons effectively promote the UNESCO City of Literature brand among Krakow citizens and visitors. Thanks to this project, the prestigious title enjoyed by Krakow for four years now is more prominent in public space. It also epitomises the concept of urban space interwoven with literature.

Next to the name a special QR code is placed on each plaque. After scanning it with a tablet or a smartphnone one can access the project website, and read there an excerpt from a text by a given author, listen to its recording in Polish and in English, and find the author’s biographical note. Additionally, the website offers an interactive map thanks to which one can easily find all literary benches, as well as the selected, most important literary addresses in Krakow.

The rules and regulations of the project


In June 2015, 100 benches in Krakow’s Planty received their literary patrons, and since then the list of author names has steadily grown. Currently, Krakow boasts almost 180 literary benches, a testimony to the city’s potent literary heritage. At the City Codes library, one can access archival audio recordings of i.a. Adam Zagajewski, Ziemowit Szczerek, Ewa Lipska, Wisława Szymborska, Czesław Miłosz, Ryszard Krynicki and Julia Hartwig. Other artists and cultural activists such as singers, actors, writers, cultural journalists and literary critics joined the project as lectors. Texts are read out by i.a.: Grzegorz Turnau, Bronisław Maj, Szymon Kloska, Zośka Papużanka, Marcin Wilk and Łukasz Dębski. Thanks to our partner publishers, the City Codes e-library website also offers fragments of audiobooks and audio recordings of i.a. Marek Kondrat, Jerzy Trela, Borys Szyc and Maciej Stuhr.

In the October edition of the project there are more benches dedicated to women. A walk around Planty will make one discover, among others, the benches of Dagna Przybyszewska, Magdalena Samozwaniec, Zofia Nałkowska and Anna Świrszczyńska, prepared in collaboration with Women’s Space Foundation.

We also encourage you to follow the trail of foreign writers. The collaboration with Cervantes’s Institute, Goethe’s Institute and the French Institute made it possible to create materials about Herta Müller, Sylvie Germain, Juan Gelman and Eduardo Mendoza. The QR code on their benches will lead one to the fragments of their texts both in the original version and in Polish.

The purpose of the City Codes project consists in emphasizing in the public space the prestigious UNESCO City of Literature title which Krakow received on 21st October, 2013, as the first Slavonic city. In this way, the idea of literature penetrating into the city tissue is coming true. This was inspired by a similar project implemented in Reykjavik, one of the partner Creative Cities of Literature.

Czesław Miłosz - City Codes



It would not be possible to implement such a complex project without the participation of a number of Friends and Partners. The most cordial thanks and words of appreciation for their invaluable help, enthusiasm and enormous commitment go to:

– the Publishers who provided us with the materials necessary for the project, such as  text fragments, audio recording, authors’ photographs. They included: Wydawnictwo Literackie, a5, Ha!art, Znak, as well as Bona, Świat Książki, Rebis and Wydawnictwo Św.Stanisława BM, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Wydawnictwo MAG);

– the Students of the Philological Faculty at the Jagiellonian University (the Faculty of English Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Translation Studies and Intercultural Communication) who under the vigilant eye of their tutors masterly translated into English some fragments of very demanding literary texts;

– Radio Krakow, which made available for the purpose of the project some precious recordings from its archives,

–  Stowarzyszenie Radiofonia for the assistance in recording texts.