Tucked away behind the flying buttresses of St Mary’s Basilica, the Maly Rynek is the baby brother of Krakow’s landmark Rynek Główny, just as beautiful but without the constant crowds. The oblong square is lined with townhouses painted in muted greens, yellows and reds, some with Baroque embellishments dating from the 17th century. The brick-red apse of the Church of St Barbara backs on to the piazza; with its origins in the early 14th century, it was Krakow’s Jesuit church for centuries and its interior has a mix of Gothic and Baroque architecture, several rare icons and an mournful sculpture depicting Christ in the Garden at Gethsemane.
In the Middle Ages a meat market took place in the Maly Rynek, and these days a thrumming weekend market offers up plenty of street entertainment and has all manner of stalls offering hand-painted eggs, amber jewelry and dolls in national costume as well as traditional sweets and the ever-present pierogis; in August the square plays host to the Pierogi Festival, when thousands flock to sample different takes on Poland’s favorite dish.
Maly Rynek, Krakow. Accessible 24/7 for no charge. Best reached on foot in the largely pedestrianized Old Town.