The market squares of today’s Kraków are often the centres of ancient villages, where for centuries the inhabitants came to buy necessary goods and sell their wares. Everything was traded here - from food, through cattle and horses, to tools and other necessary equipment. Over the years, the assortment has changed, but the markets have retained their atmosphere and colour and remain an element of local folklore, without which it is hard to imagine Kraków.
The Main Market Square would lose a lot of its charm if the florists, the last representatives of the merchants trading here since the Middle Ages, disappeared from it. When you come to Market Square to hear the St. Mary's Trumpet Call, it is worth looking not only up at the bugler, but also across to the nearby flower stalls, and then to move on to Kraków's other market squares.
Stary Kleparz - just 5 minutes from the Main Market Square
It is the oldest market in Kraków. Its origins date back to the mid-14th century when the square was the marketplace of a separate town - Kleparz. Since then, the Kleparz Market Square has continuously traded the best local goods and specialities from other countries. Polish cheeses and cold meats direct from producers, fresh bread, and plentiful fruit and vegetables attract crowds of shoppers. Many people also come here to buy exotic rarities, fragrant spices, industrial goods and various trinkets needed in every household. The place has its own unique atmosphere and has become part of Kraków's tradition and folklore.
It is easy to get here. Just a few-minute-walk from the Main Market Square along Sławkowska Street takes you to a world where local products mix with goods from all over the world, and where you can often taste the delicacies on offer before buying.
Nowy Kleparz - a hundred years of tradition
The Nowy Kleparz Market Square, located at the end of Długa Street, is inextricably linked with Stary Kleparz. It flourished in the 1920s when the previously rural area was transformed into a city. Farmers from the villages north of Krakow on the road to Stary Kleparz, more and more often stopped at Nowy Kleparz to offer their goods. The 1925 regulations for Kraków's market squares specified what could be sold at Kleparski Square and at what times, as well as what could be sold on the Nowy Kleparz Square and when, and what could be offered at the stalls at nearby Lubelska Street and when.
Today, Nowy Kleparz is a modern marketplace where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and flowers in small shops or stalls. The tradition of trading in smaller and larger wicker products has been cultivated for years. The most colourful part is at the foot of the chapel with the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception statue. It is here that you can best feel the specific atmosphere that is created between sellers and buyers.
Imbramowski Square - the unique atmosphere of a traditional bazaar
Years ago, the market was located near Nowy Kleparz, and the offers of both squares complemented each other. Changes in the city's landscape forced farmers and merchants to look for a new place. They found it in the former village of Prądnik Biały, at today's Opolska Street. Interestingly, the local inhabitants did not like trading here at first, even leading to the closure of the market for some time.
Today no one can imagine this part of the city without Imbramowski Square. Crops transported directly from the fields and allotments, fine fruit and vegetables, and dairy products of the highest quality are the trademarks of this market, which is visited not only by retail customers, but also by wholesalers. The offer is complemented by bread, cold cuts, meat and poultry, fish and other food and industrial articles.
At every step, you can feel the unique atmosphere of a traditional bazaar. Permanent points of sale go side by side with seasonal ones and sales directly from cars, where buyers wait for their suppliers to appear and merchants know their regular customers very well.
The square at Hala Targowa - a place for treasure hunters
The market at Hala Targowa at Grzegórzecka Street has at least two faces. From Monday to Saturday it is dominated by groceries from local producers and various trinkets from small traders. Fresh, natural products can be bought from early morning until evening.
On Sundays, on the other hand, book and antique lovers flock to the market hall. The weekly market is known far beyond the Polish borders. Collectors and lovers of nice, original items from many parts of the world come here to spot pearls among unfashionable, sometimes a bit dilapidated items, which after cleaning and conservation will become prized elements of their collections. You can buy literally everything here: books, old postcards, medals and orders from various countries, paintings and engravings made in various techniques, musical instruments, coins, postage stamps, porcelain, glassware, tableware, various trinkets, militaria and jewellery. There will also be smaller and larger pieces of furniture and objects whose purpose is unknown to anyone, not even to the sellers.
For many visitors to Kraków, a Sunday visit to the Market Hall is a must. They wander among the stalls, watch, chat with the sellers, and when something catches their eye, they haggle over the price, which includes not only the value of the item, but also its history and the emotions connected with it. It is a magical place that captivates with its atmosphere during every visit, triggering the bargain hunter's and treasure hunter's tendency to bargain...
The Nowy Square - a place with many faces
The Nowy Square, popularly known as the “Jewish Square”, is in the heart of Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter – a place full of monuments related to this culture. People come here for different things, depending on the day of the week, but daily, for vegetables and fruit, and also to try the legendary zapiekanki (gratins) sold at several points in Okrąglak, the shopping pavilion standing in the middle of the Square. Moreover, from Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 6 pm, a traditional flea market is held here. You can sell or buy antiques, books, all kinds of old objects and trinkets or just talk about their history.
On Friday, before the flea market starts, pigeon fanciers meet on the Nowy Square to discuss their favourites, buy food and necessary accessories for them, and replenish their flocks with new members. On Sundays, on the other hand, the Square is taken over by traders in second-hand clothes and various accessories. There is no obstacle to simply swapping clothing items with someone and thus "refreshing" the contents of your wardrobe.
It is worth visiting this place while strolling along the streets of Kazimierz and breathing in the atmosphere of the past while looking for something unique and unrepeatable to take home.
The Na Stawach Square
This is one of the youngest markets on the map of Kraków. It can be said that, in a sense, it is symbolically located on the other side of the city than the Kleparski Market Square mentioned above. If you want to get to the Plac na Stawach, you need to go south from the Main Square - along Grodzka, Franciszkańska, Zwierzyniecka and Kościuszki Streets. A 20-minute walk is enough to get there.
The history of the Na Stawach Square market is only 30 years old and began with a small organic market. Such products still occupy an important place in the local merchants' offer, but you can buy here literally everything - from food to articles for animals or motor vehicles. You will not come across flashy neon signs or intrusive advertising, but rather vendors who encourage you to try their products, offer advice, help you choose, and have friendly chats with regular customers. At almost every step, you can see that the saying "the customer is king" is still valid and put into practice.
The Parsley Market - naturally, locally, directly
The Parsley Market was born out of a need. There was no market on the right side of the Vistula in Podgórze. A few years ago, a group of enthusiasts came up with an idea to organise a place where local producers (up to 150 km from Kraków) could personally sell their produce from organic farms and food products made according to traditional recipes, without flavour enhancers or artificial additives.
Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Niepodległości Square is filled with farmers and processors, as well as people looking for natural, fresh products. All goods offered here have documents proving their quality issued by one of the companies assigning organic certificates or have been tested for the content of pesticides, antibiotics and artificial feed due to unannounced inspections carried out by the Parsley Market Foundation team. Producers who do not meet the standards are not allowed into the market.
Everyone will find something tasty for themselves - from vegetables and fruit, bread and homemade cakes, naturally cured meats, excellent fish, various cheeses, and additives enriching the taste of dishes: herbs, oils and wines. Once you have explored what is on offer, you can take a seat at one of the tables, have a cup of coffee and set off again between the stalls, this time to do some shopping. And then head off to explore the charms of Old Podgórze and Krakus Mound ...
A slightly different Kraków
Before or after visiting museums and admiring historical monuments, it is worth visiting Kraków's market squares, which are bustling with life from the early hours of the morning until late in the evening, maybe to buy something, maybe to try something, or maybe to feel their specific atmosphere, which cannot be described in guidebooks, or fully conveyed in photographs or videos. You must admire it with your eyes, hear it with your ears, smell it, touch it, and even taste it by sampling the goods on offer. The full range of impressions will undoubtedly remain in the memory for a long time.