Building is situated on Market Square, the greatest medieval market in Europe (more than 200 x 200 m). Erected after 1257 during prince Boleslaw V Wstydliwy (the Chaste) reign. Previously there were two rows of brick stalls, forming long street across the center of the market. From 1306, in agreement with Wladyslaw Lokietek (the Short) privilege, all merchants crossing Cracow had to stop in the town and sell their goods to Cracow's merchants, who had their own stalls in the Market Square. The cloth was only possible to sell to Cracow's clothiers of the Cloth Hall (that is where the name came from). Ownership of the stalls was succession from father to son.
Nowadays, the dark hall is still full of commercial live. They do not sell cloth though, but gifts for tourists from all over the world. We can see many things connected to Cracow's medieval time however. Mostly weapon, jewellery (especially of silver, amber, coral), Cracow's figures and wooden craft, cristals, leather and many hand-made goods.
On a massive cradle vault (from Renaissance, middle of XVI cent.) we can see arms of Polish towns and emblems of trade and merchants guilds.
On the photo the interior of Cloth Hall has Easter decoration with typical Cracow motives. The Christmas decoration is quite different however.
It is worth to add that at the first floor of Cloth Hall, from 1883, there is National Gallery of Polish Painting. In outside stalls, open for arcades on Market Square side, there are located elegant cafes and galleries. This building is crowned of Mannerist parapet with mascarons. They're the men's heads in grotesque style by Italian sculptor Santi Gucci (middle of XVI cent.). It is said that their deformated by pain heads or devil smiles are a result of watching tortures or suffer from in town hall cell, which there was in neighborhood to the beerhouse, where the sculptor used to spent his time.
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