Krakow is fabulous in any season. I have visited in holiday season, summer, and spring. The Cloth Market is the centerpiece of the historic square...untouched by wars. It's the purest part of Poland as far as architecture is concerned. The Cloth Market is filled with vendors who sell a miriad of merchandise and soulvenirs. The shops and cafes surrounding the square offer great shopping as well.
I have stayed at a couple of hotels close to the square but there are many to choose from. The key is that they be walking distance from the main square. You can easily walk to a number of sites and certainly over to Kazimierz...which I highly recommend.
The airport is a short drive from the center and I arranged for a driver from the hotel to pick up. Worked beautifully.
I would suggest lots of emails to your hotel to ask questions about car rentals and other practical questions. I saved a lot of money using their suggestions. Hope you'll enjoy my page on Krakow as well as the many other wonderful pages by fellow members. You will see a theme and know which sites are most popular. Hopefully you'll take the trip and have a fabulous time. You can't meet nicer more helpful people than the Poles.
Fondest memory: I could spend weeks visiting each and every cafe - drinking coffee several times a day... and then choosing among a fabulous array of restaurants to spend a quiet evening. I love the atmosphere, the architecture, the shopping, the history, and of course... the people. The Poles are gracious hosts indeed.
If you read about the Market Square in the web sites I have added here you will undestand why this is the premier meeting point for locals and visitors alike.
You have some wonderful vendors stalls over the weekend that sell all sorts of local products, from candy to honey or even carvings.
There is also a statue of a severed head, lying on its side with what looks like bandages partially covering the eyes. Could not find out what the statue symbolizes (if anything), so I decided it was to warn you. If you go around with bandages over your eyes you might fall down and cut your head off, so be careful.
The Market Square is also "home" to several dozen horses and carriages that you can rent for a short jaunt around the old city.
Fondest memory: http://www.cracow-life.com/poland/krakow-market-square
Matt, our organizer of the VT Euromeet 2010 in Krakow, decided upon doing one of our photo shoots here alongside the Church of Saint Adalbert...now I imagine when this church was consecrated that they had NO IDEA we would put it to such use in the future, but we did and it is now history. You can see the church itself in the first photo, a tiny little thing, hardly seeming to be enough to have a priest in, not to mention a congregation.
The other photos show Matt using his megaphone to try and get all the rowdy VTers rounded up to do the photoshoot, and Stacey, Carmen and Sandra smiling for the camera.
As for the history of the church itself, if you are interested, I found a nice article on one of the sites I used to research before going to Krakow.
The Adam Mickiewicz Monument was designed by sculptor Teodor Rygier and unvieled in 1898 at the 100th anniversary of the birth of Adam Mickiewicz, the greatest Polish Romantic poet of the 19th century.
At the base of the monument are four allegoric groups symbolising the Motherland, Science, Courage and Poetry.
In 1940 the monument was destructed by the invading German troups. In 1955 the monument was restored; some of the original figures were retrieved from a Hamburg scrap metal yard.
Every year on Christmas Eve the monument is decorated with flowers by the florists of Kraków.
Rynek Glowny is the largest Medieval square in Poland. It's surrounded by many old palaces, cafes, shops and restaurants. The highlights of this square are the church of S. Mary that was built between 1287 and 1320 on the remains of a Romanesque church. The present construction is a result of a restoration made at the end of the XIX century. In the middle of the square the long building you see is the Sukiennice (cloth hall). It was originally built in the 14th century as a center for the cloth trade. It was destroyed by fire in 1555 and rebuilt in the Renaissance style with alterations made in the 19th century. Besides this building you see what remains of the old town hall; the tower. The 14th century town hall was pulled down in the 1820's. On a corner of this square lies the small church of S. Adalbert. It was built the X century and was reconstructed between 1611 and 1618.
This square serves also as a place for open air events.
In the Market Square - Rynek Glowny - you will find the bronze statue EROS BENDATO - Eros Bound - created in 1999 by Igor Mitoraj.
Of course our VT Group had some fun with it - posing inside and outside the sideways HEAD, as it is hollow inside.
Krakow's 70-meter tall TOWN HALL TOWER or WIEZA RATUSZOWA, is situated close to the Cloth Hall in the Main Market Square - Rynek Glowny. The Town Hall goes back to 1316 and has been reconstructed many times. The Town Hall itself, was demolished betweeen 1817 - 1820, leaving only the Belfry standing. The massive Gothic Tower is built of stone and brick. It got its first clock in 1524 and its present baroque roof dates back to 1686,
Visitors brave enough to climb the Tower's 100 narrow and steep staircase, will be rewarded with a wonderfful panoramic view of the city from the top.
Ground floor contains a tourist information center.
The entrance to the Tower is guarded by a pair of stone lions carved at the beginning of the 19 th century (Photo # 4).
The small church in the Market Square, CHURCH OF ST. ADALBERT or ST. WOJCIECH CHURCH or KOSCIOL SW. WOJCIECHA, is one of the oldest churches in Krakow.
It was built on the site where (it is said) St. Wojciech preached his sermons. The Church was constructed in the baroque style between 1611 - 1618.
During the summer, there is an exhibition in the crypt, dedicated to St. Wojciech.
Favorite thing: When I was in Krakow a native suggested I use the bank on the square. They had the best exchange rate at the time and were a full service bank. Travellers checks, money exchange of all denominations....credit cards... whatever. I think you would do best to begin there. It is on the side of the square opposite the side of the Wawel Castle.
St. Adelbert's church was open on this visit. We dutifully brought the prayer cards to lay in front of one of the saints for a friend back home. If the lower level is open, that is worth a visit as well. They have uncovered the earlier city levels to expose earlier centuries in Krakow. It's a city beneath a city. There is also a windowed sidewalk area beside the front door where you can look down into the earlier street below.
My husband and I are pictured in front of St. Adelbert's church on a previous visit. This is a 14th century church in the Market Square with the most incredible gold. Such a tiny place...with uncomfortable wooden benches for seating.
Someone must have an explanation for the patina of this gold. It's a very rich, more yellow colored gold than what we see in the U.S. Of course the color of gold varies around the world, but the older gold is also quite different. Sorry if I bore you, but little details like this fascinate me.
Favorite thing: During my 2nd visit to Krakow there was a sculpture exhibit on the square. Various objects of art were scattered on pedastals giving prominence to the reputation for the Poles' long history of art appreciation. I wasn't sure if the exhibit would continue or change periodically, but it was obvious the pieces would be seen and enjoyed by many tourists and residents. They really brought the art to the people...almost placing it in your walking path. Great idea.
There's always something going on in the main square.
When we were climbing the tower in the main square we spotted some folk dancing below so we went down to watch that for a while. It was really good and reminded me of what we saw in Coimbra last year. Most of the participants were older local people and they seemed to be enjoying it.
Nearby was an Elvis puppet dancing to some Elvis tunes and this was just as enjoyable though perhaps aimed more at the tourist market.
Were you to stay all day at the main square there would still be enough entertainment to keep you occupied.
Favorite thing: The Market Square is the biggest (or one of the biggest) market squares in all Europe. It is divided in two halves by the huge building of the Cloth Hall. The St. Mary's Church is definitely a Must See and do pay attention to the flower market, which has been here since the 17th century! So you see, there is a lot to discover around here! For more information, do have a look at the "things to do" section (if you haven't been there already)!
Favorite thing: The main attraction in the city and the core of it where all the main streets and alleys end..of course is so rowded with tourist and terraces...although when i was there it was under construction so it wasnt absolutelly full
Be sure to sit at one or several of the numerous cafes dotted along the square, they are not ridiculously expensive as you may think and there is so much activity to see, from the people and pigeons, to the horse and carriages and street entertainers.
One day we were sitting outside in a cafe and it just started pouring with rain, here is a view!