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Floriańska Street leads to the largest market area of any city in Europe. The Main Market, planned in 1257, is 200 x 200 m square. It used to be a place of trade, divided into zones, with many small shops called 'kram', the official municipal scales, food storage warehouses the fish market, coal depot, even a chicken market. This remarkable square with its tourist attractions and places of great interest competes well with the Old Town in Warsaw or Długa Street in Gdańsk.

The Town Hall

Point of interest in the Main Market is the vestiges of the Town Hall situated close to the Cloth Hall. Written evidence relating to the Town Hall goes back to 1316. It has been reconstructed many times. Between 1817-20 it was demolished leaving only the belfry, covered by a Baroque roof. The tower is one of the symbols of Kraków. During the summer the belfry is open and from its summit there is a beautiful panorama of the city. Visiting the Main Market and its monuments will take the whole day, if you want. It's a place to return to for a coffee, tea with lemon or a beer. But let us not linger too long.

Cloth Hall

In the centre of the Main Market Square is The Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). It is one of the most important buildings in the city. It has been reconstructed many times and does not resemble the original plan of the building. It used to be a street crossing the market from north to south with shops on both sides. The street was then roofed. The brick Gothic Sukiennice was destroyed in the fire of 1555. It was rebuilt in the Renaissance style by Italian architects living in Kraków - Jan Maria Padovano, Santi Gucci, Jan Frakstijn. Decorations and loggias similar to the Wawel court arcades were added at this time. The last reconstruction by Tomasz Pryliński dates back to 1875-1879. On 7th of October 1879 a decision was taken to open the National Museum in the Sukiennice. In September 1883 the museum became the first Polish public institution in a country divided and ruled by Russia, Prussia and Austria. Today the museum contains Polish XIX century paintings by such famous Polish painters as Matejko, Chełmoński, Gierymski, and Podkowiński. Unfortunately it is now closed for reconstruction. Reopening is planned in spring 2008.
(Source: The Visitor Malopolska)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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