Historically Krakow’s large and impressive Main Market Square — the largest medieval square in Europe — was where local residents conducted their shopping, but today that space belongs to the tourists.
Locals have moved their activities elsewhere, including to Little Market Square (in Polish, Maly Rynek). This square lies a block behind St. Mary’s Basilica, so it is easy to access when you’re in the heart of old Krakow. The square itself is lined by colorful buildings dating from the late 17th century and in the past was where the meat market was located.
A lively market is held in Little Market Square on weekends, which fills the square with a variety of vendors, as well as a stage for live entertainment. The stalls feature food and interesting handicrafts, some aimed at tourists but much of it also of interest to Krakow’s residents. I’d say most people visiting this market spoke Polish and were there for the food vendors and entertainment.
We visited the square a few times during our stay in Krakow, once at night and once during the day. One afternoon we encountered the gentlemen in our top photo, dressed in traditional outfits, preparing to play Polish folk music.
The market is home to many food vendors, including several selling loaves and slices of hearty rye bread, a staple in the Polish diet. I was amazed at how large some of these loaves are, approaching the size of small car’s tire. Slices of rye bread are cut to order and served with butter or a lard-based spread (which tastes far better than it sounds). Sides and toppings like those shown in the photo below are also available.
People enjoy meat and fish, pastries, and some beautiful hand-crafted chocolates.
Many of the stalls sold handicrafts, like pottery and wood carvings. There was no shortage of hand-crafted jewelry including pieces with a variety of sizes, shapes and shades of amber. Amber is harvested in the Baltic region of Poland and is very popular throughout the country.
It’s a fun market and worth visiting if you’re in Krakow on the weekend.
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