The Rynek Glowny Grand Square in Krakow is one of the most beautiful medieval squares located in Europe, and one of the largest as well, as it spreads over 10 acres.
It is inconceivable to pass through Poland and not to make a detour in order to visit this one of a kind square which is composed of buildings characteristic for the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. At the center of the square, tourists will find the Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall), which dates from the 14th century but which has been restored during the Renaissance. On top of this, there is an attic which is adorned with carved masks.
One of the main attractions, located in the north-eastern part of the square, is the St. Mary Church which has a beautifully carved Great Altar. This edifice, erected in 1222 and rebuilt in 1355, is a representation of the Gothic architectural style.
The story that revolves around this church says that in the 13th century a man tried to alert the city about the Tatar invasion by blowing a horn, but that he was deadly wounded in the neck by an arrow. The church is said to “retell” the story of this hero by means of its towers which play a specific tune every hour (called “hejnal”). The horn used to alert the population is still preserved in the left tower of the church and bears the name “Kosciol Mariacki”.
The church is opened for visitation only between May and August.
Other important tourist attractions are the Town Hall Tower, the Gothic edifice dating from the 13th century, and the St. Adalbert Church which still preserves some of its original parts from the 11th century.
Some of edifices have changed their attributions, in as much as nowadays, the cellars of medieval buildings have been transformed into pubs and restaurants, while others house the Archeological Museum and the Maszkaron Theater.
Another place worth visiting is the Wierzynek Restaurant. Those who are unacquainted with the legend that revolves around the restaurant should know that in 1364, a 21-day feast was organized here for the monarchs of Europe with the purpose of reaching an agreement about some political matters.
The Grand Square consists of 47 buildings, each more impressive than the next. Upon admiring these edifices it is impossible not to think with regret about the other constructions which had been demolished in the 19th century. Probably the most relevant one of the edifices which had been destroyed is the Town Hall built in the 14th century in the Gothic style.
Since its formation, the purpose of the square was commercial in nature, and even after the rebuilding process which took place after the Mongol invasion left the square in ruin (in 1257), commerce was still the number one function of the Grand Town Square.
But besides having been an important trading center, the Rynek Glowny, also bears an important historical role. This is the site where public executions were being held and where royal proceedings were organized.
The Grand Square won in 2005 the title of the World’s Best Square, awarded by the organization Project for Public Spaces. The reason for which it received this award is that a multitude of events are organized here, such as concerts, festivals, marches. For example, the Square hosted the largest party ever to be organized on New Year’s Eve on the territory of Poland.