on July 2, 2004
The Cloth Hall (Sukiennce) stands proudly in the centre of Rynek Glowny, the medieval market square at the heart of the old city. It is an impressive building and one you will probably find yourself coming back to, whether it is to stroll through its arcades, sit in one of its cafes or walk round and admire its facade.
Construction of the Cloth Hall began in 1344, a covered structure which would augment and provide protection for some of the market stalls which crowded into the square. The building was rebuilt, after suffering damage through fire, in 1555 with further reconstruction in the 19th century.
The long oblong building with its cream and brown stonework, internal and external arcades is still linked to its commercial roots. Walk through the inner arcade and you’ll find stalls selling a variety of souvenirs, from amber jewellery, carved wooden figures of both secular and religious subjects, to lace items and leather bags. It’s a pleasant place to browse for gifts and mementos. If the weather is good, sit outside at one of the tables in the outer arcade and enjoy a coffee or beer as you people-watch the activity in the square. If the weather is bad, sit inside one of the cafes and do the same!
On the outside of the Sukiennce, opposite the EMPiK, is the entrance to the upper storey and the Cloth Hall Gallery. A branch of the National Museum, the Cloth Hall Gallery contains 19th and early 20th century paintings by Polish artists. I would recommend that anyone going to Krakow make time to visit this gallery. It is a little gem!
The gallery itself is fairly small and intimate but the paintings are far from diminutive. Huge canvases such as 'Nero's Torches' by Henryk Siemiradzki and 'Four-in-Hand' by Jozef Chelmonski dominate and impress with their artistry and scope. Historical and romantic subjects are housed alongside symbolist paintings.
The small size of the gallery and the number of paintings displayed means that it doesn't take too long to look round. Though you may find, like we did, that you linger longer in order to sit and stare at every little detail in some of the pictures. For instance the sense of speed and power conveyed by Chelmonski in 'Four-in-Hand' is exhilarating.
The paintings are interesting, effecting and evocative. Of all the wonderful sights in Krakow, the paintings in here left a very vivid impression.**Please note that the Cloth Hall Gallery is closed for refurbishment till 2009, the bulk of the gallery's collections has been moved to the Niepolomice Castle, about 20km out of Krakow, with some also on show at the National Museum, 1 Al. 3 Maja, in Krakow**
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009