The Biggest Market Square In Medieval Europe

Rynek Glowny is the heart of Krakow, Poland, and a must-visit place, as it’s brimming with plenty of attractions, including free things to do in Krakow. It has been the city’s central square since ancient times and always has something going on. The market square is home to delicious restaurants, cafes, antique shops, and some of the city’s most striking monuments, which are a huge part of its long, fascinating history. Located right in the middle of the Old Town, Rynek Glowny is one of the best places to visit in Poland, thanks for offering incredible access to the city’s main attractions, and every visitor definitely falls in love with it, especially during the holiday season. Planning to explore Rynek Glowny, the biggest market square in Europe? Here is everything to know.


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Interesting Facts About Rynek Glowny: Krakow’s Main Square

Rynek Glowny Krakow
Photo by Adam J on Unsplash

Rynek Glowny in Krakow at night

  • Krakow’s Main Market Square was built in the 13th century as a center of commerce where local and foreign traders met to exchange different goods.
  • The name Rynek Glowny is in Polish and translates to Main Market Square.
  • All kinds of goods were traded in the Market Square, including Baltic amber, carpets from Persia and the Ottoman Empire, fabrics, spices from the Far East, and local food products.
  • There were several historical happenings in the market square. Prisoners that were held in Krakow’s Town Hall were persecuted right in this market square. The square also hosted plenty of regal ceremonies. The Pan-European Congress of Krakow was held here in 1346.
  • Krakow’s Rynek Glowny doesn’t have a town hall. Being the city’s main market square, many people would expect it to have a town hall, just like other Polish cities. A town hall is usually the most iconic building in a city square and the main point of interest. Krakow’s Main Market Square used to have a town hall that was constructed by King Casimir III the Great. Unfortunately, it suffered destruction in 1820 to open up the Main Square. The only part of the old town hall that remained standing is a tower, which is one of the Square’s most striking buildings.
  • The Old Town Hall stands behind the Main Public Square. The free-standing tower located behind the square is the only remaining part of the ancient town hall that was destroyed in 1820. It is the most significant attraction in the square.
  • Rynek Glowny is incredibly positioned on the Royal Route, the Old Town’s main street, which is another significant part of the city’s history. Numerous historical events also took place in the Old Town’s Main Street, including solemn processions, kings’ tributes, military parades, and special happenings that contributed to the independence of Poland.

Things You Can Do In Medieval Europe’s Biggest Market Square

The Town Hall Tower

Old town hall tower Rynek Glowny
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The old town hall tower at Rynek Glowny, Krakow

Dating back to the 14th century, the free-standing tower in the Rynek Glowny is the only part of the old Krakow Town Hall. It stands 70 meters high and boasts an observation tower at the top from which tourists can enjoy breathtaking views of Krakow’s Main Market Square and the entire city. Krakow’s Old Town Hall Tower is among the reasons why tourists will fall in love with Poland.

  • Opening hours: April – October 10:30 am – 6:00 pm, every day; November & December 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm. It remains closed for the rest of the year.

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Krakow Cloth Hall

Krakow Cloth Hall and Town Hall Tower
Photo from Shutterstock

Krakow Cloth Hall and Town Hall Tower at Rynek Glowny, Krakow

Krakow Cloth Hall or Sukiennice in Polish, is believed to be the most beautiful building in the Market Square. It was built during the Renaissance period and was the meeting point of traders back in the day. The hall had warehouses where different goods, like – silk, spices, leather, textiles, and salt, were stored. Today, it’s home to a stall that sells amber jewelry, crafts, and more.

It houses the Sukiennice Museum, home to the largest collection of Polish art from the 19th century, located on the upper floor.

  • Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM (Subject to change)
  • Recommended visiting duration: one to two hours

Rynek Underground Museum

Commissioned in 2010, Rynek Underground Museum is home to permanent exhibitions that give tourists an insight into Main Market Square’s history and Krakow’s ancient life, including some of the main historical events. To make the most of one’s visit to the museum, vacationers should opt to go with a tour guide.

  • Opening hours: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays), 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (Tuesdays), 10:00 am – 8:00 pm (Fridays-Sundays)

Rynek Underground Museum remains closed on the second Monday of every month.

St. Mary’s Basilica (Kościół Mariacki)

St. Mary's Basilica Rynek Glowny Krakow
Photo from Shutterstock

Interior view of St. Mary’s Basilica in Rynek Glowny, Krakow

Flanked by two incredible towers, St. Mary’s Basilica dates back to the 14th century and is among the best historical things to do in Krakow, Poland, thanks to its impressive façade. The temple’s towers are of different heights. The taller tower was raised higher to turn it into a watch tower. One can also climb one of the towers to enjoy beautiful views over the square.

  • Visiting hours: 11:30 am – 6:00 pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm (Sundays and Holidays)
  • Entrance fee: $3.59 for adults, $1.92 for kids

Adam Mickiewicz Monument

This is one of the best monuments in Poland, dedicated to Adam Mickiewicz, the most iconic Polish Romantic poet of the 19th century. The statue dates back to the late 19th century. It suffered destruction, just like many other features of the Polish culture. It was rebuilt in 1955, and today, it is one of the most famous attractions in Poland and a popular meeting point for many of Krakow’s tours.

Church Of St. Adalbert

Located right in the heart of Rynek Glowny, the Church of St. Adalbert. The church dates back to the 11th century and has one of the most stunning Romanesque architectures of the early Middle Ages. Since it dates back more than 1,000 years, the Church of St. Adalbert is one of the oldest buildings in Poland.

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Know Before You Go: Tips For Visiting Krakow’s Rynek Glowny

Krakow's Main Market Square
Photo by Anna on Unsplash

A horse-drawn carriage at the Krakow’s Main Market Square

  • Use a map to have a smooth experience of the Krakow Main Market Square. This map comes with incredible features. On the map, vacationers can see different landmarks and descriptions, including links for more details about the place and directions. The map pins come in different colors. Yellow represents sightseeing – guiding travelers to the landmarks in the Rynek Glowny. Green is for transportation – showing options to choose from. Dark red is for the various restaurants and cafes in the market square. Orange represents Micheline-starred restaurants, while light red is for clubs, bars, and the city’s music venues. Blue shows the hotels in the city, while purple leads tourists to Krakow’s shopping destinations.
  • Early mornings or evenings are the best times to enjoy photo opportunities without the interference of crowds.
  • The Cloth Hall is home to the city’s main tourist information office.
  • Horse-and-carriage rides are among the best ways of exploring the city’s Main Market Square.
  • Joining a walking tour offers the best experience of Rynek Glowny and the city. An experienced tour guide will help travelers better understand the city’s history, including the historical events in the market square.

Krakow’s Main Market Square is one of the most attractive spots to visit in Poland. History buffs will enjoy exploring historic buildings and learning about Krakow’s ancient times. A visit to Rynek Glowny is definitely worth it.

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