Since its creation in the 13th century, Krakow's Market Square has been a bustling center for commerce and a meeting place with a rich history dating back to 1257.
Known locally as Rynek Główny, it is the heart of the city and brings together locals and visitors. The square itself is situated in the Old Town, which has remained unchanged over time. Many of the original features and buildings still remain in place unlike that of other European cities, as Krakow was protected from damage during WWII. It is the largest Medieval Square in Europe — from the old market building that dominates the center of the square to the basilica and the ornate buildings that surround it, there is much to do here. Market Square also hosts many of the city's largest and most prominent public celebrations, including Poland's largest New Year's Eve celebration. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has many highlights.
St. Mary's Basilica
Completed in the 15th century, St. Mary's Basilica is a shining example of Polish Gothic architecture. This church and its two towers, 81 and 69 meters high, dominate over the square. Every hour, a bugle call comes from the tallest tower. The inside of the church is ornately decorated in vibrant colors from floor to ceiling. The highlight is the Veit Stoss alter. Carved from oak and linden wood, it is the largest of its kind in Europe.
The Cloth Hall stands proudly in the heart of the square and houses two rows of market stalls selling traditional souvenirs such as amber jewelry, ceramics, painted boxes and much more. It also hosts a branch of the National Museum. This hi-tech exhibition traces the city's history and can be found underneath the building, called Rynek Underground. The second floor hosts the underrated 19th Century Polish Art Gallery.
Adam Mickiewicz monument
This monument is dedicated to the life and works of one of Poland's most loved poets from the 19th century, Adam Mickiewicz. Today, it is a popular meeting place.
Restaurants and bars
The square is the best spot in Krakow to soak up the sun and relax with some traditional Polish cuisine and sample the local brew. It is an ideal place for people watching and taking in the beautiful buildings that surround you.
From the main square there are several ways to see the city. The first is to take a romantic Horse and Carriage ride. Travel in a beautiful white carriage to your next destination whilst enjoying a guided tour of the city. Alternatively, hop on one of the golf buggies that offer guided trips in many languages. Tours can be catered to your requirements and this is an entertaining way to get close to the city's highlights. Look out for the Free City Tours if you would prefer to see the city on foot.
Attractions near the market square
Once you have finished exploring this area, walk through the incredible Old Town's streets towards Wawel Castle. Along the way, browse the shops, cafés, and chocolate shops. From the castle, admire the fantastic views, and take a journey further into the city's history. If you have time, stop by Barbican, the city's historic defense walls steeped in history.