The largest square in medieval Europe, the Market Square (Rynek Główny) is now a broad expanse with the vast Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) at its centre, ringed by magnificent houses and towering spires. Originally a collection of outdoor market stalls, the Cloth Hall was first built in 1300 and reconstructed during the Renaissance, and still houses a bustling covered market. To its south is the tiny copper-domed St Adalbert’s, the first church to be founded in Kraków. On the east side is the Gothic St Mary’s Church (Mon–Sat 11.30am–6pm, Sun 2–6pm; 6zł), the taller of its two towers, which you can climb during the summer months (May–Aug Tues, Thurs & Sat 9–11.30am & 1–5.30pm; 5zł), topped by an amazing ensemble of spires. Inside is the stunningly realistic triptych high altar (1477–89), an intricate wood-carving depicting the Virgin Mary’s Quietus among the apostles.
Legend has it that during one of the thirteenth-century Tatar raids, a guard watching from the tower of St Mary’s Church saw the invaders approaching and blew his trumpet, only for his alarm to be cut short by an arrow through the throat. Every hour a local fireman now plays the sombre melody (hejnał) from the same tower, halting abruptly at the point when the guard is supposed to have been hit.