The main square or Rynek Główny of the Old Town of Kraków, dates back to the 13th century, being one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe. The Project for Public Spaces (PPS) lists the square as the best public space in Europe due to its lively street life, paving the way for inclusion of Kraków as the top most attracttion in Poland even before the capital Warsaw. We had only one day in Krakow, so it was impossible to go for a day tour to Auschwitz , so we decided to see the city in stead. And main square is the best place we liked.
Kościół Mariacki or St Mary’s Basilica is one of the best left Polish Gothic architecture. On every hour, a trumpet signal—called the Hejnał mariacki—is played from the top of the two towers to commemorate the famous 13th century trumpeter, who was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before the Mongol attack on the city. Originally played by the town guard, since the 19th century the Hejnał has been performed by active members of the fire brigade, who also use the church tower as a lookout post.
The statue of Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, was unveiled on June 16, 1898, on his 100th birth anniversary in the main square. It was designed by Teodor Rygier, a little-known sculptor at the time, who won the third and final competition for this project by popular demand ahead of over 60 artists. At the poet’s feet are four allegoric groups symbolising the Motherland (from the face of the monument along SiennaStreet), Science (facing north), Courage (facing Sukiennice Hall) and Poetry (facing Church of St. Wojciech, south). The inscription on the pedestal reads: “To Adam Mickiewicz, the Nation” and every Christmas Eve, the Monument is decorated with flowers by the florists of Kraków.
The Church of St. Adalbert ,Kościół św. Wojciecha, located on the intersection of the Main Market Square and Grodzka Street is one of the oldest stone churches in Poland. We stayed in Lets rock hostel in Grodzka street and all the time we entered the square from this side. Almost 1000-year back to the beginning of the Polish Romanesque architecture of the early Middle Ages, it was a place of worship first visited by merchants travelling from across Europe. It was a place where citizens and nobility would meet.
The center of the square is dominated by the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), rebuilt in 1555 in the Renaissance style, topped by a beautiful attic or Polish parapet decorated with carved masks. On one side of the cloth hall is the Town Hall Tower (Wieża ratuszowa), on the other the 10th century Church of St. Adalbert and 1898 Adam Mickiewicz Monument. Kraków Main Square does not have a town hall, only a tower, because the hall has not survived to the present day.
At night, we saw a small flea market showing various stalls, gift-shops, beer-gardens, metal works shop and horse-drawn carriages. I bought one key ring made in Ukraine. And we had this years’ best dinner in one of the square side restaurant. We had one awesome salad, baked duck with orange and baby potatoes, and chicken fillet with cottage cheese… sitting beside an warm flame, listening to the local traditional band and savouring the most beautiful and vibrant square of Poland ..
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