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 traditional souvenirs. On the first floor, the Gallery of Nineteenth-Century Polish Art —a branch of the national museum—houses a collection of 19th-century Polish paintings. 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. Back downstairs, you'll find an entrance to Rynek Underground, a branch of the Kraków City Historical Museum. It presents the history of the Square and the Old Town in a multimedia, interactive display incorporating an archaeological site.
The Gallery of Nineteenth-Century Polish Art at Sukiennice.
From the Age of Enlightenment to Impressionism and beginnings of Symbolism, this gallery showcases all the most important movements and styles in Polish art between late 18th and early 20th centuries. Those interested in history will find it amply illustrated: in the portraits of the Polish kings, or the monumental canvasses by Jan Matejko ("Prussian Homage") and Henryk Siemiradzki ("Nero's Torches"). There is no lack of atmospheric nature scenes, portraits, and allegories; note the controversial (at the time) "Ecstasy" by Władysław Podkowiński. Perhaps the single most interesting painter featured in the collection is Piotr Michałowski, author of the Romantic "Somosierra". Apparently Picasso himself had the highest praise for Michałowski's work. Sukiennice, Rynek Główny 3. 12/424–46–03. www.muzeum.krakow.pl. 12 zł. Tue.–Thurs. 10–6, Fri.–Sat. 10–8, Sun. 10–6.