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April 20, 2004
Approaching from ul. Florianska, pass by the magnificent twin-towered St. Mary's Church (Kosciol Mariacki). Its two towers, topped by crowns and helmets, are uneven -- the left taller than the right (a C15 add-on) -- and unfortunately neither can be climbed. Take the time to walk round the church as there are some interesting plaques on its walls and gravestones imbedded. Though originally founded in 1222, the current building was begun in 1355 and finished in 1405. Inside, the long aisle draws you along past the very reverent Polish worshippers to a Gothic apse and altar; en route, admire the frescos and peer into the numerous little chapels on the sides -- rather gloomy for my taste. The church is open in the afternoons only otherwise it's closed for prayer. Saturday evening is also a popular time for people to nip in and out before going on the town and early weekday mornings is also an interesting time to sit in the market place and watch both the flower-sellers setting out their stalls and the townspeople popping into church on their way to work.
The Sukiennice (Cloth Hall)) is a marvellous building, adorned by gargoyles and falcons, and its recent cleaning has brought it up a treat. Its glory days of commercial trade are long gone but it's still an evocative corridor to walk along. These days, the numbered stalls sell jewellery (the amber is quite fine), dolls, lace, wooden toys and ornaments. There's no haggling and the prices are pretty much the same throughout so there's no point shopping around. Look upwards for the shields painted on the curved wall/ceiling -- over the entrance midway along is the crest of Krakow itself (see photo on lead entry).
In the centre of the square outside the Sukiennice is the central statue of national poet, Adam Mickiewitz; a proud fine falcon sits at his feet. Locals use it as an impromptu bench to sit in the sun.
On the other side of the Sukiennice is a stand-alone tower (Wieza Raturzowa), the last piece of a C13 town hall, which, as an afterthought, was saved from destruction. In summer months, you can climb for a view.
For a lunchtime stop with a view over the marketplace, you could do much worse than the Wierzynek (see entry) which styles itself the oldest continuously serving restaurant in Krakow. Otherwise, try to a window-seat at Tribeca coffee house just beyond the town hall tower (the brownies -- sorry, not very Polish, I know -- are to die for)
From journal Memories and memorials in Krakow
London, United Kingdom
July 27, 2000
From journal Krakow - the most beautiful city in Poland