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A statue of Adam Mickiewicz marks the eastern entrance to the Renaissance Cloth Hall, which is in the middle of the Main Market Square. The Gothic arches date from the 14th century, but after a fire in 1555 the upper part was rebuilt in Renaissance style. The inner arcades on the ground floor still hold traders' booths, now mainly selling local crafts and souvenirs—anything from amber jewelry, wooden chess sets, and embroidered tablecloths to Kraków-theme T-shirts and toy dragons. On the first floor, in a branch of the national museum, you can view a collection of 19th-century Polish paintings. The gallery was thoroughly renovated, and it reopened in 2010. Upstairs, a very pleasant Café Szał has an open terrace where you can sip your coffee while observing the busy life of the Market Square below.
Rynek Underground (Branch of Kraków City Historical Museum). On over 6000 sq. meters, right underneath the main square, this recent addition to Kraków's museum roster (inaugurated in 2010) presents the history of the city in its European context. The interactive display, using multimedia technology, can often feel like time travel; most importantly, it incorporates the actual archaeological site, allowing the visitor to walk over real mediaeval tracts (the oldest dating back to the 11th century). Layer after layer, some 1,000 years of history can be uncovered before your eyes. There's an interactive zone for children, and some fun surprises—can you spot the portrait of a mediaeval Polish king who actually winks at you? Plan at least two hours to properly enjoy your visit. Sukiennice, Rynek Główny 1. 12/426–50–60. www.podziemiarynku.pl. 17 zł, free on Tuesday. Mon., Wed.–Sun. 10–8 (April–Oct. 10–10); Tues. 10–4. Closed every first Tuesday of the month.
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