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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. Measuring approximately 200 metres by 200 metres, it was laid out when the city received its charter in 1257. Unlike the Cloth Hall, the Town Hall and the town houses that border the square, the churches of St Maryand St. Adalbert were built before the charter and so are not aligned with the sides of the Main Market Square. There are plenty of things to do at Main Square, you can spend the whole day in this place.
The first thing to do at Main Square is to walk 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.
Next thing to do at Main Square is to walk to the west of the church. You will find 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.
Going west past the Cloth Hall, 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.
Another thing to do at Main Square is to see 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.
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.
How to Get Tickets?
There is no entrance fee to visit Main Square. You can walk around the area for a tour and enjoy the architecture and history for free. However, if you wish to visit the attractions in this area you'll have to pay for a ticket. There are a few places in the Main Square that requires a ticket if you want to enter. The tickets can be purchased online for your convenience. You can also purchase the tickets on the spot, but it will take more time with the queue.
How To Get Around?
The best way to get around Main Square is on foot. The Main Square has been practically turned into a pedestrian precinct. But you can also roam the Old Town historic districts driven in a horse cab, an electric cart with a taped guide, or a bicycle rickshaw. It is also accessible by wheelchair.
What Should I Wear?
There is no dress code at Main Square, you can wear whatever you want.
Best Time to Visit
May-August is the best season to visit because the pleasant temperature will let you hang out in the main square, plus the season sees some of the city's best festivals.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, getting around is easy and you can find everything on this website. Just make sure you did your reading about the Main Square before visiting.
How To Get There?
From the city, the best and cheapest way to reach Main Square is by taking a tram. You can take tram 3 that stops at the Main Square, with entrance down Florianska street or tram 18, with entrance through Szweska Street. If your hostel/hostel is close to this area, you can walk to the Main Square, it's a nice walk especially if the weather is nice.
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