Krakow market square and cloth hall – a short tour

The market square in Krakow is the largest market square in Europe. It might be the largest in the world, considering most places in the world do not have traditional market squares besides Europe.  However, for Europe it is the largest open market square. Below I made a video of the center of Krakow. I posted it on my YouTube channel where I have a few other videos about Krakow and Poland.

Cracow Main Market Square

The size of the market square is 40,000 sq meters or 430,000 square feet. If you were to fly over the market you would see three evenly spaced roads each at right angles to the main market square.

Below the market square is even a larger network of tunnels and caverns and secret passages. But that is a for another topic and day.

The exception to this symetry is ul. Grodzka, which is the oldest street and on the southern side.

Krakow is a Medieval Gothic town. The market squares are lining museum pieces. It is also the geographical center of the city.

Cloth Hall Krakow

At the center of the market square in Krakow is the Cloth hall. The market square is called the Rynek Głowny or literally main market. Many towns have something called a Rynek. Rynek means market in Polish.

The large yellow building in front of us is called the Cloth hall or in Polish the Sukiennice. It was started in 1344. It now has more of a 16th century look with gables and gargoyles. There was also a 19th century reconstruction. This is and was a center for trade. You can buy things specifically Polish and made in Poland.

It is the world’s oldest continuously running shopping mall. Krakow has the oldest Shopping mall in Europe the Sukiennice and arguably the largest also Galleria Bonarka. I like to go to both. The prices in Cracow’s cloth hall are good. I actually still go shopping there for things from time to time. Where can you find a wooden chess set or mountain slippers for ten dollars but here? In a modern shoopping center you will pay many times more for the same or lesser quality.

In the Middle Ages, on Monday’s you could also buy fresh meat. The animals were butchered in another part of Krakow. At the end of the day of course prices went down.

Old City call tower

The town city call is called Wieża Ratuszowa or literally the town hall tower. While it was used by the city of Krakow government it contained a room for the town council, court and jail. It also had a room of torture (see the anthropology museum for this) and a storage area. Now it is a museum and you can go up in the tower. At the base is a cafe.

The statue of Adam Michiewicz

This monument was erected in 1898. He was Poland’s national poet born in Lithuania and died in Istanbul. However, we do not know if he ever came to Krakow, probably not. However, he is buried in the Wawel castle. When the statue was first put up, there was controversy whether it was too modern and not appropriate for the poetry of the Rynek. The statue was taken by the Germans during the war and sold for scrap but recovered in Hamburg Germany after the war.

Today, along with Empik bookstore people wait for dates or meet their friends. If you watch my movie below you will see a few girls in font of Empik waiting for someone. Watch for the girl who turns her head.

This is a short history as I want you to actually someday visit the center. In another post I might include more details. If you have any questions please let me know. I have lived in Krakow a good part of my life. There are also a number free English-speaking walking tours in the center if you take a trip there.







2 responses to “Krakow market square and cloth hall – a short tour”

  1. Kinga

    The statue of Adam Mickiewicz also has another purpose. Don’t be surprised if you come across young people wearing prom dresses and suits jumping around it on a cold winter night. It’s supposed to bring good luck on their high school finals (matura).

    1. Mark Biernat

      That is interesting, I have seen so many interesting style clothes people wear there from Goths to dramatic theater type attire.

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