Sukiennice (or Cracow Cloth Hall) is an old hall located just in the heart of Cracow's Old Town. For ages, it served as a center of international trade and, today, it is one of the most popular spots on the touristic map of the city. Here's a brief overview of what not to miss about this beautiful building.
The beginnings of Sukiennice date back to the Middle Ages when the market square was a lively center of commerce. Over the centuries, the venue underwent multiple changes in form - the first edifice emerged in the 14th century and soon turned into the gothic-style building. It burned down and was replaced by a renaissance hall, the remainings of which we can still admire today. Until the 17th century, Cracow was the Polish capital; thus, it was a place of international trade. The exchange of goods from the faraway lands with the Polish resources took place in the Kraków Cloth Hall (hence the name).
The Gallery of the 19th-Century Polish Art in Sukiennice is a part of the National Museum in Cracow. It is located on the upper floor of the building and consists of a few rooms filled with the best examples of the old regional art. The origins of the museum started with the initiative of one of the best Polish painters of that time, Henryk Siemiradzki, who donated his majestic painting "Nero's Torches" to the city. The museum was opened in 1879 and quickly became the heart of the art scene at the time. Apart from an impressive collection, the museum has a cafe with an open-air terrace that offers a stunning view over the main square and the Basilica of St. Mary. Because of its compact size and the best selection of artworks, it is a perfect place to get acquainted with the great Polish painting and enjoy your visit to the fullest (instead of getting tired going through the kilometers of museum rooms).
Just next door, you will also find an interesting underground museum of the old market square. Rynek Underground is a perfect location for archaeology and medieval history enthusiasts. Next to it, you can also find a tourist information point.
Apart from the cultural offer, Sukiennice has also a few restaurants. One of them is Sukiennice - Kompania Kuflowa, located under the arcades on the eastern side of the building. The atmosphere and menu refer to the Galician tradition of the city, and inside, you will see various remainings of the past. They offer a wide variety of regional meals to try for a reasonable price. In Kompania Kuflowa, you can order a breakfast based on the flagship Cracovian pretzels sold on the little stalls around the city.
Sukiennice partially kept its original role and still serves as a place for retail. Nowadays, it is known as the most popular spot for shopping for souvenirs. Its long interior hall is filled with stalls offering various forms of gifts from Poland. You will find there different kinds of regional craft: from wooden sculptures and pottery to scarves but also more commercial goods, like magnets, t-shirts, and mugs. One of the famous gifts to bring from Poland is amber, and you will surely see multiple shops selling it in Sukiennice. Beware that it is one of the most touristic places in the city, so you will need some stamina to survive your shopping adventure there!
Cracow Cloth Hall is an unmissable place during your visit to the city. As it lays in the heart of Cracow's old town, it is visited by thousands of tourists every day. To enjoy your visit to the fullest, try its cultural and gastronomic offer, and I bet you will not be disappointed.
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