At the pinnacle of Polish culture and heritage, Krakow enchants visitors from the moment they arrive. Krakow was the Capital of Poland until the end of the 16th century. During its 500-year reign, Krakow accumulated some of the most eclectic, romantic, and strikingly beautiful architecture in Europe. It remains, unquestionably, the Polish capital of culture, as confirmed by its recent designation as a European City of Culture. There are over 40 churches in the city center alone, ancient fortifications, and the Wawel Castle, which is often described as the personification of Poland. Krakow possesses a laid-back, old-world mentality. Most people begin their visit in the "rynek". As the largest city square in Europe, the rynek is always filled with activity. Locals and visitors alike wander the shady cafés, visit the 13th century market place, buy flowers, watch the street performers, and simply stroll around.