8 of the Best Things to Do and See in Krakow Market Square
Located in the centre of Krakow’s Old Quarter, Market Square (Rynek Główny) is the city’s top attraction.
Here we list 8 of the best things to do and see in one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe.
1. Visit Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) to see traditional Polish craftmanship, then visit the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art
Originally a medieval Gothic hall, Cloth Hall was rebuilt in the 16th century in the Renaissance style. It is the best place to see (and buy) authentic Polish craft products, as artisans sell their wares within an arcade filled with market stalls (on its ground floor). Produce includes leather goods, sheepskin rugs and hand-carved Polish chess sets. It’s the perfect place for that special souvenir.
Venturing upstairs you will find the Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art, which includes four exhibition rooms. Paintings in the Romantic, Realist, Neo-classical and Symbolist styles are well represented. Noteworthy paintings include Jan Matejko’s Wernyhora, Piotr Michałowski’s Blue Hussars and Józef Chełmoński’s Four-in-hand.
2. Try the Krakovian bread snack, Obwarzanek krakowski
A braided ring-shaped bread, Obwarzanek krakowski, is boiled and sprinkled with salt, poppy seeds and sesame seeds before being baked. Traditionally sold from street carts, it now has protected (by the European Union) regional food status.
3. Buy traditional Polish dried flower bouquets
Situated by Mickiewicz statue, Krakow’s Market Square florists are renowned throughout the country for their beautiful flower bouquets. Fortunately for the souvenir-buying traveller, the dried flower bouquets have longevity and can easily be brought back home.
4. Try a grilled Polish Kielbasa from a market stall
Kielbasa, the Polish smoked sausage, is a national dish of Poland. Take your pick from a wide selection at any one of the many hot-food stalls. Served with bread, Polish mustard and ketchup, they make a tasty fast-food meal.
5. Visit the Church of St Mary (Kościół Mariacki) to view Veit Stoss’ High Altar masterpiece
Contained within Krakow’s main parish church; the Church of St Mary, is Veit Stoss’s High Altar masterpiece. A polyptych dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary it was made between 1477 and 1489 and measures 11 metres wide and 12 metres high. It makes for a spectacular site when its panels are opened. Veit Stoss was one of the greatest wood-carvers of the late Gothic age and lived in Krakow from 1477 to 1496.
6. Ride in a traditional horse and carriage around the square and Old Town
See Krakow Market and Old Town in style with a ride in an authentic horse drawn carriage. Passing by St. Mary’s Church and Cloth Hall, you will also see Krakow’s medieval fortifications and its many cobbled streets, the magnificent baroque churches of Saints Peter and Paul and many other historical sites throughout the Old Town.
7. Enjoy a Polish beer and cabaret show at Piwnica Pod Baranami
Founded in 1956 by Piotr Skrzynecki, the famous Polish impresario and choreographer, Piwnica Pod Baranami has been entertaining audiences with its cabarets for more than 50 years. The most popular intellectual cabaret in post-war Poland, it became famous for its satirical criticism of the post war communist regime, leading the magazine Przekrój (the oldest Polish weekly news magazine still in operation) to write, "For 41 years [Skrzynecki] and his cabaret persuaded us that, despite the system, we had come into this world for happiness and joy."
Today its cabaret performances are as atmospheric and lively as ever and remain a true expression of the indomitable Polish soul.
Try traditional Polish beer as you sit in its atmospheric underground cellar bar. It’s the perfect place to relax whilst you chat with friends and absorb its unique cultural heritage.
8. Dine in one of the many Polish restaurants that surround the square
After a long day, its time to relax in one of the many restaurants that surround the square. For a true taste of Poland, try żurek, a Polish soup made from rye flour (akin to sourdough) and kielbasa, bacon or ham. An acquired taste, it is however full of goodness and makes for a hearty meal, perfectly accompanied by a traditional Polish beer!
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