Krakow's Main Market Square (Rynek) is the very city's centre. Originally designed in 1257, the grid-like layout of the Old Town and its central square has changed little. Measuring 200 metres square, the Rynek Market Square ranks as one of the largest medieval squares in Europe, and is surrounded by elegant townhouses, all with their own unique names, histories and curiosities.
There king was sworn and public executions held. Also there Tadeusz Kościuszko roused the locals to revolt against Russians in 1794. The Market Square has always been the stage for public celebrations, starting from parades of sausage dogs to Christmas competitions. When Nazis occupied Poland, the square's name was changed to "Adolf Hitler Platz". Today the square mostly used by tourists and annual Christmas and Easter markets, as well as numerous festivals and outdoor concerts.
In the centre of the Market Square stands the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). Built in the 14th century this huge hall was the first shopping mall in the world. To this day it is still crammed with merchant stalls selling amber, lace, woodwork and other tourist goods. The second floor hosts 19th Century Polish Art Gallery.
Directly next to the Cloth Hall stands Poland's most eminent scribe: Adam Mickiewicz. Ironically, the bard never visited the city until after his death when his remains were transferred to the Wawel Cathedral crypt, but this hasn't stopped the statue from becoming one of Kraków's best loved monuments.
Across from Mickiewicz looms the magnificent St. Mary's Basilica, with its crowning glory - Veit Stoss' altarpiece. The area surrounding the Basilica was formerly a cemetery, and the bodies of hundreds of Krakovians still lie beneath the cobbles. Some tourists will also appreciate the set of metal neck restraints displayed on the side door of St. Mary's, formerly used to punish philandering women.
On the other side of the square is the 70 metre Town Hall Tower, the only building of the Town Hall complex remaining after many fires and demolitions since 14th century. Visitors can get up to the 3rd floor through Gothic vaulted rooms and watch on the square below.