It may be hard to believe, but the young reprobates you see staggering out of Kraków’s bars and clubs actually represent the country’s educational elite. Kraków’s Jagiellonian University is rated as Poland’s best institute of higher learning, as well as being one of the oldest in the world – in Central Europe only Prague’s Charles University predates it. Its story begins in 1364 when, after years of pleading, King Kazimierz the Great finally persuaded Pope Urban V to grant permission to establish a seat of higher learning in Kraków, which the King primarily funded with proceeds from the nearby Wieliczka salt mines.Three years later the school bell was ringing in the lessons, namely philosophy, law and medicine. Originally named the ‘Kraków Academy’, the university started to flourish in the following century when math, theology and astrology were introduced, attracting eminent scholars from across Europe. The rapid expansion necessitated a larger campus and the building today known as Collegium Maius was built in the latter half of the 15th century. It was here that Nicolas Copernicus – who would later go on to revolutionise our understanding of the universe – studied from 1491 -1495.