The mascarons gaze demonically over Krakow’s famous market square, keeping the evil spirits at bay, and no one notices. Not the buskers, not the wedding couple, not the carriage drivers, not the children, and not the tourists.
And rising out of the northeast corner of the busy square, the large and impressive St. Mary’s Basilica watches over spirits of a different kind. For tourists and locals alike, this medieval square is the beating heart of Krakow’s Old Town, and all this bustle and liveliness takes lots of looking over.
Many towns in Europe boast of their historic market squares, but the tourist board in Krakow (pronounced KRACK-off) can crow the loudest because their Rynek is the largest. It dates from the 13th Century, and luckily, it survived most of the destruction in WWII. An impressive 16th Century market hall sits dead center in the square, which is still home to vendors selling local crafts and food.
The outer edge of the square is a captivating mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, most of which have restaurants and umbrellas spilling onto the cobblestones.
But for us, the Rynek isn’t just a place, it’s a non-stop event and a Polish pinnacle of people-watching.
An attractive wedding couple poses for the big day …
… and an 8 foot wraith poses for a few złoty.
A vendor oversees her colorful matryoshka dolls and amber jewelry …
… and a trio of Nuns oversees their flock.
St. Mary’s Basilica feeds the soul …
… and identical twins feed the pigeons.
We can’t resist, and have visited Krakow’s Market Square every day of our time here. It’s the perfect place to nab a sun-warmed granite bench and just let the entertaining world flow around us.