The majestic centerpiece of Kraków's main square is a historic building with a busy market and an art gallery filled with Polish masterpieces.
The Cloth Hall is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world and an architectural gem. Within its magnificent walls are stalls filled with souvenirs and trinkets, including folk costumes, jewelry and many other types of hand-crafted objects.
One of the city’s most distinctive buildings dates back to the 14th century, and for hundreds of years was a major international trading hub. Merchants from several countries would come here to sell such wares as silks and exotic spices. Visit today to find that the focus of this busy marketplace is on souvenirs and locally made goods.
Before browsing the exciting array of items, study the lovely renaissance exterior. Follow the long colonnade of arches each supported by stone pillars. Look up to the colossal tiered bell tower with its squared windows and flowing motifs.
Once you have taken in the details of the façade, head between the arches and through the main entrance. Browse for souvenirs such as woolen slippers, jeweled ornaments, crucifixes and beautifully decorated hand-crafted wooden boxes. Above the stalls, you will see coats of arms painted on the walls.
After your shopping expedition, make your way upstairs to the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art. View more than 1,300 paintings and sculptures from some of the nation’s most celebrated artists. This includes the work of realist painter Józef Chełmoński and Piotr Michałowski, who is celebrated for his oil paintings of horses. The dramatic giant paintings of Jan Matejko are also not to be missed. Other highlights are works from the period of Polish Enlightenment, which began in the first half of the 18th century.
The Cloth Hall is located in the middle of the Main Market Square in the heart of Kraków and can be easily reached by bus or tram from all over the city. The market is open all week, while the gallery can be visited every day except Mondays. There is an admission fee to view the works of art with discounts for children and students. The permanent collection can be seen for free on Sundays.