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Department of Economic and Social History




On April 21, 2023, an urban studies seminar for Urban Studies students was held, organized by the Department of Economic and Social History/UNESCO Chair for Heritage and Urban Studies. The seminar was organized under the theme “Creating a new district in the center of Krakow. The future fate of Wesoła”.

Since the City of Krakow bought out the Jagiellonian University clinics from the State University Hospital in 2019, there has been an ongoing debate about the function and development of the area between Kopernika and Grzegórzecka Streets. The disputes around Wesola bring into focus, as if through a lens, the challenges of a historic city in the 21st century. – pressure from developers, gentrification, the need to protect historic buildings and areas, planning and consideration of the needs of residents and users. Taking a close look at these issues allowed students to better understand what is at stake for the future of downtown and what visions for the future of downtown can be realized.

During the seminar, students were not only introduced by the Department’s staff to the history and the most important buildings that make up the spatial layout of Kopernika Street, but also had the opportunity to meet and discuss with people representing important institutions that determine the history, present and future of Wesoła. Professor Michal Wegrzyn, who heads the Jagiellonian University Botanical Garden, presented the most important problems of managing this extremely valuable complex of the oldest botanical garden in Poland. At a meeting with Ms. Wioletta Kursa, a representative of the Krakow City Development Agency, which was entrusted with the preparation of a concept for the development of Wesoła as a recreational and cultural district, a lively discussion was held on the key questions facing the local government of Krakow today in terms of strategic use of the 19th century clinic complex for new functions. The seminar concluded with a meeting and discussion with Dr. Agnieszka Staniszewska-Mól, director of the Library of Krakow, in the amphitheater of the former clinic for internal diseases at 15 Kopernika St. A municipal cultural institution such as the Library of Krakow is to be one of the catalysts in transforming Wesoła – its function and identity – into a district of cultural, meeting and leisure industries.

The urban studies seminar “Creating a new district in the center of Krakow. The future fate of Wesola” was another – after the autumn seminar on the problems of urban development in Rzeszow – project that allows students of Urban Studies to combine theory and practice in solving difficult problems of urban development.