April 28, 2016: Main Square, Krakow, Poland

 

Kraków Old Town is the historic central district of Kraków, Poland.  It is one of the most famous old districts in Poland today and was the center of Poland's political life from 1038 until King Sigismund III Vasa relocated his court to Warsaw in 1596. The entire medieval old town is among the first sites chosen for the UNESCO's original World Heritage List, inscribed as Cracow's Historic Centre.  The old town is also one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments (Pomnik historii).

The main square (Polish: Rynek Główny [ˈrɨnɛk ˈɡwuvnɨ]) of the Old Town of Kraków, is the principal urban space located at the center of the city.  At roughly 40,000 m2 (430,000 ft2) it is 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.

The main square is a rectangular space surrounded by historic townhouses (kamienice) and churches. As seen above, 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. Inside the Cloth Hall one will find an abundance of vendors selling a variety of goods ranging from food, souvenirs, and jewelry (especially amber). On one side of the Cloth Hall is the Town Hall Tower (Wieża ratuszow).

From where I am standing to take the above photo, I turn slightly to my right and take another picture of the main square.  As seen below, the Cloth Hall is on the left, many vendors under yellow canopies along with the Adam Mickiewicz Monument are seen in the center of the photo, and the beautiful St. Mary's Basilica (built in the early 13th century) is seen on the right, with historic townhouses surrounding the square.

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I look behind me and I see this...

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the Church of St. Wojciech, a Romaneque church which is one of the smallest and oldest churches in Krakow, dating back to the 11th century.  I now walk towards and then around the Town Hall Tower, and take in the view seen below.  The Cloth Hall is seen on the right, with historic townhouses surrounding the square.

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I become overwhelmed.  There is so much to see and do here one could easily loose their head, then I turn to my right and see...

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that somebody already has.  Actually, this is Eros Bendato (Eros bound), a bronze statue by Igor Mitoraj created in 1999 and moved to Krakow in 2003.  I now walk away from the Town Hall Tower (and Eros Bendato) and around the Cloth Hall, so that I am now standing looking at the Cloth Hall with St. Mary's Basilica behind me.  This is what I see...

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a beautiful water fountain in the foreground, vendors under their yellow canopies, and Cloth Hall in the background.  I now walk a little further towards the Church of St. Wojciech and stop in front of the Adam Mickiewicz Monument.

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I have now completely  walked around the main square.  What an amazing place this is for, as stated earlier, there is so much to see and do here.  For example, you can take horse carriage rides,

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shop,

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dine,

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and even enjoy wedding festivities.

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Some might say this place is "for the birds",

100_5894 and in a way I guess it is.  Even so,  if you ever have the opportunity to visit Krakow, be sure to see the main square of the Old Town.

 

 

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The Salt Mines are one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. It would be a shame to miss seeing them. When you are in town you will see this building. It's the Rail Station. The salt mines are just a few stops along the line. 10 minutes. So easy to find. So worth it.DSCF4850

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Hi Ava : )  You are going to love Krakow.  The locals are very friendly, the scenery is beautiful, and the food is excellent and very reasonably priced.  Enjoy your visit.  I hope you share your adventures (along with pictures) with TravelGumbo upon your return...I (and our entire TravelGumbo family) would love to see them.  By the way, if you have time, take a day to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and another day to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration/Extermination camps.  Your best bet to see these attractions is to visit a travel center in Krakow and purchase guided tours that will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.  Have a fun and safe trip.  

Ottoman posted:

Hi Ava : )  You are going to love Krakow.  The locals are very friendly, the scenery is beautiful, and the food is excellent and very reasonably priced.  Enjoy your visit.  I hope you share your adventures (along with pictures) with TravelGumbo upon your return...I (and our entire TravelGumbo family) would love to see them.  By the way, if you have time, take a day to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and another day to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration/Extermination camps.  Your best bet to see these attractions is to visit a travel center in Krakow and purchase guided tours that will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.  Have a fun and safe trip.  

Thanks Ottoman!  I'm really excited to hear all of the positive things about Krakow.  We have already booked a tour at Auschwitz, but I don't know if we will have time to visit the salt mine (although it looks amazing).  I'd be happy to share some photos.

In the main square, school children perform dances and theatre for passers by.

Adults perform parades and fashion shows.

During the summer when I was a visitor there was something on display most afternoons. Krakow is a beautiful city to walk around.

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