The main square of Krakow is one of the most visited sights of the city, and for good reason. The Rynek Główny, as it is called in Polish, is one of the largest squares in Europe and contains strikingly beautiful architecture and an abundance of Polish history, However, the monuments and points of interest to be found are not labelled, making it difficult for the average tourist to make much of the things there. That’s why we’ve created this tour to help you find your way around the main square!
We begin our tour at the end of Florianska Street, which is arguably the most well-known and tourist-laden streets in all of Krakow. Facing the main square from Florianska, you find yourself face to face with the beautiful Church of St. Mary. Each hour on the top of the hour, the hejnal is played from the taller tower of the church. This monument is the subject of two popular legends: one of the jealous brothers who built the uneven towers and another of the trumpeter who was killed by invading Mongols. You can see the inside of the church as well for a small fee, or go to pray through the main door at no cost. And don’t forget to see the opening of the altar that happens at noon each day! It’s quite a sight and definitely recommended if you have time.
To the west of the church stands a glass pyramid and a stature of Adam Mickiewicz, both popular meeting places for locals and tourists alike. Mickiewicz was a Polish romantic poet best known for his national epic “Pan Tadeusz”. He is regarded by many as one of the great Slavic bards. The glass pyramid sits over the top of the Rynek Underground Museum, but we’ll get to that later.
To the south of these two monuments is the green and white Church of St. Adalbert, or Sw. Wojciech, in Polish. This historic church has stood in the main square for over 1,000 years and is still a functioning place of worship. And for those interested, it houses a museum of the history of Krakow’s main square in what used to be the crypt.
Behind St. Adalbert’s is Grodzka street. Part of the Royal Route, it leads directly to Wawel Castle. You can also find some of Krakow’s best potato pancakes there, featured on our very own Royal Snack Route, as well as a milk bar where you can stop for a cheap lunch.
Going west past the Cloth Hall (we’ll save the best for last), you will see a big tower. This is what is left of the old town hall. It was one of Poland’s oldest seats of government, but was destroyed in the 19th century, save for the gothic tower that you can see today. Next to that is a sculpture of a giant head created by the famous artist Igor Mitoraj. He insisted that this strange piece be displayed in the main square and the city had already agreed, so even though many people dislike the bound and disembodied head it still remains one of the most interesting points in the square.
Last, but not least, we are at the Cloth Hall. If you enter through the main door on the west side you find a huge marketplace with gifts, clothes, and souvenirs galore. This is the best place to buy a traditional Polish scarf, and compared to other tourist shops around town, the prices are great and everything is well made.
If you follow the entrance to the door opposite, you will see an old knife hanging from the ceiling. This goes back to the story of the jealous brothers who built the uneven towers of the Mariacki Church. In the Cloth Hall, you can also get cheap tickets to visit the top and get a great panoramic view of the square. Visit the art gallery and cafe on the upper floors as well, or enter the underground museum on the northeast side of the building where you can walk underneath that glass pyramid that we talked about earlier.
And finally, if you want to finish your tour with shots or hot donuts, head down Szewska on the west side of the main square to check out Pijalnia Wodki i Piwa or Gorace Paczki. You can even follow Szewska to the planty to explore and walk off those donuts.
And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or want us to make you a custom made list or itinerary, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org