Monday, April 6, 2015

Market square filled with food and crafts during Easter week

After a long walk from Kazimierz we arrived back in the main market square. Since the rain had stopped now was the time to explore. Originally designed in 1257 the grid-like layout of the Old Town and its central square has changed little. Measuring 200 metres square, the Rynek ranks as one of the largest medieval squares in Europe, and is surrounded by elegant townhouses, all with their own unique names, histories and curiosities. It was here that homage was sworn to the king and public executions held. The Rynek has always been the natural stage for public celebrations. More recently the market square was subjected to a Nazi rally attended by Der F├╝hrer himself and the square’s name was changed to ‘Adolf Hitler Platz’ during German occupation. Fortunately that moniker didn’t last long and today the Rynek occupies itself by hosting annual Christmas and Easter markets, as well as numerous festivals and outdoor concerts.

We were fortunate to find the Easter market in progress with lots of stalls selling flowers and chocolate and ornamental Easter eggs. It was a delight to walk around the market and inhale the wonderful cooking smells. There were several stands cooking huge sausages and kebabs and what looked like pork knuckles. There were also enormous pans of mushrooms or mixed vegetables, roast potatoes and French fries. Other stalls sold cheese toasties made with raclette. There were stalls with big iron pots of homemade soups and a stall selling pirogues. We bought a homemade rolled doughnut about six inches tall that was cooked on the spot and then rolled in cinnamon, chocolate or sugar. We bought a cinnamon one. Other stalls sold a variety of loaves and buns, chocolates, canoes and dried fruits. There were a number of stalls selling linen scarves and clothing, some real and some fake furs. It was a lovely market to visit with genuine articles and not the usual tourist tat. What a great spot!

Taking centre stage in the square is the Cloth Hall. Built in the 14th century this huge hall was effectively the first shopping mall in the world. To this day it is still crammed with merchant stalls selling amber, lace, woodwork and assorted tourist souvenirs. By now it was raining once again so we took the short cut through the Cloth Hall to our hotel. The delicious cinnamon doughnut accompanied by a cup of tea, in our hotel room, was a perfect reward for all of our walking today.

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