City Codes and Next 50 Literary Benches

It was exactly one year ago, on 21st October, after three years of efforts, Kraków, as the seventh city in the world, was admitted to the Creative Cities’s Network in the field of literature. In the celebration of the anniversary of being awarded with the title of UNESCO’s City of Literature, we enter the city’s texture and empahsize the presence of literature in municipal space, continuing the project of City Codes. In April this year, in Kraków’s Planty 50 literary benches were made and today next 50 benches will get their patrons. This group was joined, among others, by Herta Müller, Juan Gelman, Neil Gaiman, Szczepan Twardoch, Zośka Papużanka, Gaja Grzegorzewska, Wit Szostak, Bronisław Malinowski or Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska.

Each bench has a plaque with the name of the writer or the poet connected with the literary Kraków. On the plaque, next to the name there is a special QR code. Once scanned with a tablet or a smartfon, the codes lead to the project’s website (www.kody.miastoliteratury.pl), where one can read a fragment of the text written by the author, listen to their recordings and learn about the biography. Additionally, the website contains an interactive map, on which all the literary benches can be found, as well as some selected, most important literary addresses in Kraków.

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.

Let us remember that since April this year Kraków has had, among others, the benches dedicated to Czesław Miłosz, Wisława Szymborska, Ziemowit Szczerek, Graham Masterton, Jacek Dukaj, Jerzy Pilch, Joseph Conrad, Sławomir Mrożek, Stanisław Lem and Witold Gombrowicz.

The objective of the City Codes Project is to stress, in the municipal space, the prestigious title of UNESCO’s City of Literature, which was awarded to Kraków as the first Slavic city on 21st October 2013. This is the realisation of the idea of literature entering the city’s texture. It was inspired by a similar undertaking in Reykjavik, one of the partner Creative Cities in Literature.


This undertaking would have not been possible without the involvement of many Friends and Partners. We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for the invaluable assistance, enthusiasm and great involvement for the following persons:

– the publishers who provided us with the materials necessary to execute the project: fragments of texts, audio recordings, photographs of the writers (these were, among others: Wydawnictwo Literackie, Ha!art, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Wydawnictwo MAG),

– the students and the staff of the Faculty of Philology (Institute of English Studies) who translated into English fragments of literary texts,

–  Stowarzyszenie Radiofonia for the assistance in recording texts.

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