The Sukiennice was built where a covered market once stood and dates from the mid 13th century, although a later fire meant that the present facade was added in the mid 16th century. It's a beautiful building in itself, with market stalls (the amber, amber bit) on the ground floor and an art gallery/museum on the first floor (Poland's first).
I've wandered the Sukiennice on all my three visits to Krakow. It's been extensively restored, but the scaffolding which shrouded it in 2010 had all gone by 2013. The stalls inside seem much as they were in 2006: amber and amber and amber, but also wooden artefacts, leather goods, stuffed dragons, t-shirts....a paradise of tourist souvenirs!
As you wander through do look up to see the heraldic shields of (I assume) all the various Polish districts and towns.
You'll find a further souvenir paradise in the permanent wooden stalls on the marketplace outside. There's beer and food on offer...kielbasa, soup, bigos (often eaten by locals, I noticed, so it must be at least acceptable!). Or try the freshly-grilled oscypcek, a smoked sheep's cheese from the Tatra mountains. And there's jewellery (some amber, some not), more wooden artefacts than you can shake a stick at (be careful..some are Chinese in origin), lacework doilies, furry slippers, toys, tablecloths, beeswax candles, pottery....
One of the world's oldest (if not even the oldest!) cloth halls has been in use in Krakow since round year 1300. Before that the textile trade used to take place outdoors but then a roof was put over the two rows of stalls to give some shelter against the weather. In the second half of the same century it was then extended into a Gothic edifice, 108 meters long and 8 meters wide. After a fire in 1555 the Cloth Hall was rebuilt in Renaissance style with the nice stairs and galleries. However, the central transept and the arcades were added only during renovation works in the 1870s.
At one time this was a central trading post, mainly for cloth. Right in the center of the Rynek Glowny. Today it houses a museum and a collection of souvenir shops inside on the ground floor.
Originally, this was the main trade location in town. Krakow would export cloth, salt from the nearby salt mines. At its height, traders would supply goods from the East. Once Krakow ceased to be Poland's capital, the importance and volume of trade decreased. By the time the Austrians took over, the Cloth Hall had pretty much ceased to play its original role.
On the ground floor of Sukiennice hall (Cloth Hall) is a bazaar. It’s like going back in time. It is a lively market where merchant sells many kinds of products ranging from amber to souvenir of all kinds. The building and the interior looks architecturally impressive. Sukiennice is the main focus of the Market Square and an icon of Krakow. Once upon a time it was a major centre of International trade where imports and exports coincide. It’s a place that visitors must go in Krakow.
Here we are at the center of Market Square where it may be one of the oldest malls in the world.
Krakow was a strategic location for trade between the East and the rest of Europe, here came exotic materials as furs, silks, salt ... and they exported clothes , lead and salt of the Polish mines.
In 1300 they covered for the first time the stalls in the Square Market and after many changes now became the beautiful Renaissance building that we may see today
Currently there is a craft market on the ground floor and on the first floor is the Krakow National Museum
Aquí estamos en el centro de la Plaza del Mercado en el que puede ser uno de los más antiguos centros comerciales del mundo.
Cracovia fue un sitio estratégico para el comercio entre el Este y el resto Europa , aquí llegaban pieles , sedas ,sal ... y se exportaban tejidos y el plomo y las sales de las minas Polacas .
En 1300 se cubrieron por primera vez los puestos que había en el mercado y después de muchas transformaciones se convirtió en el precioso edificio renacentista que podemos ver hoy
Actualmente hay un mercado de artesanías en la planta baja y en el primer piso está el Museo Nacional de Cracovia
We were very pleased to see that the renovation works which during the VT meet of 2010 hampered the views are now finished so that we could see the Sukiennice in all its splendour. We especially liked the view from the west side of the Rynek Glowny market square at sunset as well as the floodlight of the building at night.
It has been said that this cloth hall from the 14th c. might be the oldest mall in the world.
In all honesty Wikipedia writes: "Other, similar cloth halls have existed in other Polish as well as other European cities such as in Ypres, Belgium (built between 1260 and 1304) ; Braunschweig (around 1300), and in Leeds (1711); but the one in Krakow is the best-known and best-preserved."
During WW II Krakow and the Cloth Hall escaped the destructions of the other Polish cities.
The Cloth Hall of Ypres, in a quite different architectural style, was completely destroyed during WW I and rebuilt from the ground level on. There is an historical link between the two Cloth Halls. Ypres was liberated on 4/09/1944 by the First Polish Division, part of the allied forces (ref. my tip on the Polish Winged Hussars), as remembered by a commemorative plaque. The people of Ieper were grateful to the Polish troops that they did not use artillery to chase the Germans and avoided so a second destruction of Ieper.
The Cloth Hall is the largest building on the Market Square. It was erected as a center for the cloth trade in the 14th century, the upper part was rebuilt in 1555 after a fire. It was under construction for our May 2010 visit but there are still stalls selling souvenirs, amber jewelry and craft items both inside and outside the Cloth Hall.
My guide book says that the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Painting, a branch of the National Museum, resides on the upper floor but the 1st time we visited it was closed and this time I didn't think to look for it.
Krakow was once a major centre of international trade, with the Rynek Glowny as its focus and the Sukiennice at its heart. Travelling merchants would meet here to discuss trade and to barter. In the 15th century at the height of Krakow’s prosperity, you would have found here all sorts of exotic imports from the East – spices, silk, leather and wax. Meanwhile Krakow itself exported its very best goods from here: textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
The Sukiennice still flourishes as a bustling centre of commerce, but today the stalls display mainly souvenirs for tourists, some of which struck me as above the average standard while others seemed quite cheap and tacky. In particular there is a good selection of amber jewellery available, although I resisted the temptation to buy any! These stalls fill the northern half of the hall, while the southern half is occupied by a café with the same name, entered from the west side near the Town Hall Tower. This café also has tables set out to the south of the cloth hall and was the location for the Sunday morning gathering of VTers (when I enjoyed delicious scrambled eggs and excellent coffee) and later for the final evening drinks for the Spanish and Brit contingents on their return from Lviv.
In business for over 700 years, this is quite possibly the world's oldest shopping mall. The Cloth Hall, as the name implies, has long been the center of Krakow's textile trade. In addition, it has a varied array of small shops selling all kinds of products.
Originally, this was just two rows of stalls, but a roof was added around 1300. After a fire in 1555, the current Renaissance structure was built. More additions were built in the 19th century.
My personal favorite thing to buy here is the amber. Fossilized resin from ancient trees, it is fashioned into jewelry. Some pieces even have prehistoric insects preserved inside.
The cloth hall [Sukiennice], a renaissance building replaced an earlier gothic market hall, which was built in the second half of the 14th century. A fire destroyed this market hall and rebuilt in its present form. The ground floor is filled with market stalls and cafes. The upper floor houses the gallery of polish painting.
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