The Rynek (Market Square)

The Rynek was laid out in 1257 after the Mongol hordes swept through Cracow. At two hundred metres squared, it became the largest market place in Europe. It really is vast - and beautiful - to say the least. And yet it never feels too big, as the Cloth Hall, which runs right down the centre, provides a sense of balance. Some of the great dramas of Poland's history were played out here, and it remains one of the most vibrant and inspiring places in the country.


From its beginnings, the Market Square was the commercial and social heart of Cracow. It was an emporium of the Black Sea trade, and a spring-board for Poland's links with the West. Besides this, it was a place of festivals and public gatherings. Although people are rarely executed there today, the Rynek is still used as an arena for parades, both religious and secular. Above all, the Square is the place for Cracovians to meet, young and old. In this respect it is the city's drawing room. The phrase 'Pod Adamem' meaning 'under Adam' (this being the statue of Adam Mickiewicz - Poland's greatest bard and a serial philanderer) is regularly used to mean 'meet up under the statue'.

The Rynek has a great sense of majesty about it. And to lap this up, there are several vantage points from which one can view the square. Many of the buildings are very grand, as the aristocracy wanted their palaces here. They went to town in this respect, lavishing money on their architects. During the summer, when the cafes bring out their chairs, the entire ring pullulates. It is a good place to sit and watch the world go by. Indeed, with its buskers and flower-sellers, its mad pigeons and mime-artists, its wonderfully lively and varied architecture, the Market Square is never a dull place. It is one of the real joys of Krakow.

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Rob from Ireland Reply Sep 27th, 2014

Most beautiful Market Square ever seen (specially at night, just masterpiece). Lovely atmosphere, good price for food and nice people. Recommend to everyone!

Kate from United Kingdom Reply May 27th, 2014

Loved the Central Square - great restaurants and beer gardens where you could spend the whole day. It's a very pretty city !

Allison from United Kingdom Reply Jul 8th, 2013

Just arrived home from Krakow and it is the most magical place I've ever been to, I would recommend it to everyone!

Agne from Denmark Reply Jun 27th, 2012

Hey, I wanted to ask if it's possible to buy some cheap clothes in this square? Do they have any markets there?:) Thanks in advance

Lauren from United States Reply Nov 22nd, 2011

It was beautiful- one night there were the most amazing fireworks ever! It was my favorite place in Poland! Loved the Food, and the flowers, too!

Cat Shep from United Kingdom Reply Aug 23rd, 2011

It was just 'AMAZING'!! The most beautiful square I have been to (and I also have been to Venice last year) it wasn't expensive so able to sit in the cafes and enjoy it all day right until the evening when the street performers came out. People are lovely, just a great atmosphere1

Martin from United States Reply Oct 12th, 2010

Simply stunning!

Peter from United Kingdom Reply Apr 1st, 2010

It's an incredible square. More beautiful, in my opinion, even that San Marco in Venice (my other favourite!)

martinfromireland from Ireland Reply Feb 12th, 2010

To whom it concerns, i am an irish singer/songwriter, i have relaeased a cd recently and would love to do some concerts in poland, and eventually around the rest of europe; i have a cd on a music site called CDBaby.com, the title is called...Dangerous Bends Ahead....the band is called The Road (although it was session musicians, i play solo in concert)i was woundering if you would know any bars, clubs, pubs or other gigs/concerts i could possibly play in, i dont have a manager/agent, and have been playing in the clubs and bars here in ireland, butfind it very limiting; if you would like a copy of the cd to listen to, i would be very happy to post it to poland, just in case you have difficuly in finding the cd online; i know this is a long shot, but i thought i would at least try; hopeing to hear from you , warm wishes, martinfromireland sent by pelemolloy@gmail.com

diane from United Kingdom Reply Feb 4th, 2010

hey fro australia really glad you enjoyed your trip to poland i went to pague for the first time last year and it was amazing this will be my 1st trip to poland in march and i wish i had now booked for longer with all the wonderful things to see never mind can always go back

Jenny from Australia Reply Jan 6th, 2010

Poland was my first experience of Europe and of overseas travel and I fell in love instantly.Steeped in history and magic we delighted in every corner. Had a bus trip up to Zakopane and were amazed at the food and scenery.The W. salt mine was mind boggling! Stayed at Andel's Motel right in town and were spoilt with kindness.A great city to walk around, very safe(a few gypsy types begging but were harmless), our 7 yr old daughter had a fabulous time as did we.Loved the bread snacks the women sell on the street and bought some Amber for me and my daughter named Amber. Will aim to go again in my lifetime, and will see Auschwitz for sure.

Klaudia from Poland Reply Nov 1st, 2009

Come on! There was an accident,but don't make a tragedy :) The Market Squere is always full of people and horses are riding around it all th time :) Where did you read it? I didn't think that it's popular abroad :) No, there aren't banned.That's tradition!

Anthony from Ireland Reply Sep 8th, 2009

Krakow is a wonderful, delightful city with sincere,genuine people. The Old Market Sq is superb with lovely outdoor restaurants and bars where you can sit and just watch the world go by. The architecture is beautiful. We went on a marvellous tour of the old communist steel factory area, Nova Huta, and the preserved apartments provided for the workers at the time. The guide, Piotr, was so well-informed and full of personality. Krakow is a city full of culture and colour and I'll continue to return to it as often as possible. Anthony from Dublin.

Kate from United States Reply Jul 31st, 2009

I read that there were some accidents with those horses and that maybe they are getting banned from the square. Is that right?

Jake from United Kingdom Reply May 28th, 2009

The Rynek is amazing. My favourite square in all Europe

Ricky from Ireland Reply May 25th, 2009

Krakow was recommended to me by several friends who had previously been there, and what a shock I got, it was a fantastic city, very much up to date with fashion and technology but still reasonably priced unlike the eurozone cities. It has many world famous and infamous attractions all of which are well worth a visit, dining out is inexpensive with good quality fare. The beer is locally produced to a very high standard and if like me you enjoy beer then your home from home. I have travelled extensively around the world having been in most european cities, but I can tell you this is a jewel that needs to be experienced to be believed. Go book a trip before the world catches on and the prices shoot up.

Mike Zawadzki from United Kingdom Reply May 22nd, 2009

Fabulous city. Have been there several times now and will go again in September. As others say, Oswiecim is a must and Zakopane worth a visit. Stick to public transport, cheap and reasonably reliable. The train to Wieliczka is a must (slatted wooden benches and views over the grotty Communist era buildings) and cheap at 4zl each way. Only bad experience we had was my son's girlfriend having her camera stolen from their apartment in Grodzka Street.

Hannah from United Kingdom Reply Feb 27th, 2009

Also stayed in the Old Town Apartments, Florienska street. Well worth the money, litrally 2 minutes away from the square.

Hannah from United Kingdom Reply Feb 27th, 2009

I love Krakow. We had 6 days there and the people are so nice. Its dead cheap too. I would actually move there if i could.

Loola Belle from United States Reply Feb 22nd, 2009

heyaa i LUV POLAND SO MUCH! i am currently learning polish thats how much i love this awesome country. Kochem ciebie!

Heather from United Kingdom Reply Feb 5th, 2009

Crakow is fabuous,well worth a visit.we had 1 night there after skiing in Zakopane,really enjoyed it,buildings are fabulous.Bought an amber pendant for 157z..it's a fab atmosphere.we got a bus from zakopane to crakow for 20z, really good value, took just over 2 hours.Takes you from bus station in zakopane to bus station in Cracow.you can get a good kebab in crakow for 11z.got an appartment to sleep 10 for 500z in crakow centre(based on 5z per £)

Val from United Kingdom Reply Jun 17th, 2008

My sister and I spent 4 nights and 5 days in Krakow.... fantastic place! We were lucky enough to stay in the old part close to the old square at a wonderful Hotel called The Pollera ... we also booked a great guide who took us to Auschwitz/Birkenau and then along to Lamsdorf where my dad was a prisoner of war for almost all the second world war ... a beautiful country. The square is wonderful and everywhere so cheap especially the amber jewellery. Would love to return ....friendly people - what more could you want ...

Leroy B from United Kingdom Reply Jun 12th, 2008

I loved Krakow! As soon as we stepped off the plane into the Polish sunshine, I knew my Stag Do would be a success. We did very little by way of tours etc (apart from Auschwitz - Birkaneu which was interesting). However, sitting in the main market square drinking a nice cold beer is the way to live here! We went to some great bars and restaurants too. Roosters is a great place to eat and the Irish Mbassy was good to watch the footy in. There are some great kebabs and pizzas available too. We stayed at the Bluebells apartments which aren't much but they were cheap and cheerful at £14 per person per night. It's a five minute walk from the square. I'll definitely be going back soon!!!

Dave Stoker from United Kingdom Reply May 29th, 2008

I came here in November 2007. Had a great time and there were mounds of unmelted snow. It was definitely polo neck, gloves and scarf weather. It was still a very bright and lively place. Felt very safe in this city, lots of great bars to suit all tastes. I am visiting again in June 2008 it was so good, bringing my girlfriend this time. We have booked a table at Pod Krzyzykiem on the main square. Will report back on this. Last time we tried this bread and dripping type appetiser - definitely recommended. Can't wait to come back.

Bren Buenaluz from United States Reply May 14th, 2008

Very nice place to just sit and watch the people. Bought some amber at this place.

gaz cat from United Kingdom Reply May 10th, 2008

just got back with lads 7 in total weve been everywhere in europe this place is the buisness. where definatly going back one day cant wait.........

Barry England from Australia Reply Feb 8th, 2008

what a fabulous square. The several days I spent in and around Krakow last May and particularly the Square will remain special in my memory

zoe from United Kingdom Reply Feb 3rd, 2008

just got back from a wonderful chilled out trip... wow the market square is fab... didn't realise how big it was!!! yes mind out for trams and horse and carts! Favourite part... grodzka oh and cafe pietro's cocktails! what a birthday night that was!

Jan from United Kingdom Reply Nov 8th, 2007

Had a blinding time in Krakow. A visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau is a must. Take a trip down to the Winter capital of Zacopane as well. Booked to go back again in March 08 & again in August.

Stevie O from Ireland Reply Oct 21st, 2007

just back from short visit (Oct 20), people great, city beautiful and the market square is at the heart of it all - just mind the trams!!!

Big D from United Kingdom Reply Sep 27th, 2007

after all my years in Krakow, you still can't beat a walk around the Market Square. I lie - you can have a drink on the Market Square! Na zdrowie

John O NeillI from Ireland Reply Jun 20th, 2007

Stevie from Australia is dead on . This is what a city centre should be . We visited during June 07 , and will definitely go back . Just make sure to visit Auchswitz during your stay in Krakow.

Stevie T from Australia Reply May 8th, 2007

The Rynek is one magically place in winter and spring. Love to return again and have more fun.