Rynek Glówny is the natural centre of Krakow: a stage for various minor and major events, a reference point, a meeting place, and the starting point or destination for countless walkers. Historically speaking, the Main Market Square began to operate in a shape and size similar to what we see today (a square with 200-metre-long sides) already in the earliest days of the Chartered City, i.e. after the granting of the Great Royal Charter in 1257. The centrally located Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) has survived to this day; the building was originally a commercial establishment for trading in cloths, and for over a century has been the main seat, and later one of the branches, of the National Museum. Other buildings standing to this day in the heart of the Main Market Square include the diminutive Church of St Adalbert (also known as Wojciech or Voitek) - a site of important archaeological discoveries, and the solitary tower - a remnant of the Town Hall demolished in the 19th century. In the north-eastern corner of the square stands St Mary's Church, frequently referred to as a basilica, with its two slender, spired towers reaching high above the whole city, one of Krakow's landmarks. The Nuremberg master, Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss) created his opus magnum here - the monumental High Altar of St Mary's - a marvel that attracts thousands of tourists every day.
Some Krakow legends and many historic events are closely linked to the city's Main Market Square. These include the bugle call played every full hour from one of the towers of St Mary's, the passage of the Lajkonik - the Hobby Horse of Krakow (in June), the Enthronement of the Fowler King, and the December competition for the most beautiful Krakow nativity scene (crib). Nearly all the houses and palaces surrounding the Main Market Square are of historical interest, with their histories reaching back centuries. They house the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, the International Cultural Centre, numerous shops, restaurants, and pubs. Imposing facades, splendidly decorated doorways, windows, and roofs of the houses are worth your attention. It is not difficult to find perfectly preserved interiors and carefully restored architectural elements.
The Main Market Square is a large area for people to meet in during summer festivals, concerts, fairs, presentations, and Poland's largest New Year's Party. Citizens of Krakow frequently meet "pod Adasiem", that is at the foot of the Monument to Adam Mickiewicz, the poet. A longer stay is encouraged by the ring of restaurant and café gardens surrounding the square, which can easily provide a place to rest for several thousand people. Some of them operate from early in the morning into the small hours in the night, nearly all year round, with but a short break during the fiercest frosts. In winter, patrons move to the cellars so characteristic of the centre of Krakow. Here, you can additionally listen to a live concert. The live music played in most places is jazz - Krakow has well deserved the title of the capital city of Polish jazz. The night life and clubbing have recently begun to bloom here: after all, we are in a city of nearly 130,000 students.
Those who begin visiting the city from the Main Market Square may resort to one of Krakow's horse-drawn cabs or a meleks electric car with a professional audio recording explaining the selected route in the language of your choice. A number of tourist companies offer coaches for visiting both the city and its surroundings.
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