Kraków Cloth Hall

Kraków, Poland

The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).

The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.

The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.

On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.

The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.

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Details

Founded: 14th century
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Poland

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Adam Smith (14 months ago)
One of the best place to eat in the centre of the town. Great food and customer service. I always visit the restaurant during my holiday. The oldest supermarket in Europe as well :-)
Steve Brookman (14 months ago)
Centre piece to this city square. Worth a walk through if you are there. Very attractive building. Most of the stalls inside sell tourist souvenirs which are not my thing. Entrance to the underground city excavations can be found at one corner of this building. The excavations are very interesting and reviewed separately.
Alex Hale (14 months ago)
Enjoyed walking along it. tourist souvenirs from all parts of Europe. The attraction really is walk through the market
Joe Sanderson (14 months ago)
Really great. Tricky to find the entrance, but deeply rewarding when you do. A perfectly sized gallery- some galleries go on for a long time and you find yourself fatigued, but four rooms is ideal. The paintings on display are some of the best examples of Polish art around. 'The Prussian Homage' alone would be worth five stars.
Phoebe Zhu (15 months ago)
Beautiful paintings on the first floor of the Cloth Hall. A lot of stories (of Krakow and local residents) behind the paintings. A audio guide would be very helpful. Nice staff there. Shame the cafe was closed (probably due to winter break).
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