A city plaza is like a painting. At the right time, when the light emblazons the building fronts with myriad colors and the people watching is prime, there are few places more pleasant to spend one’s time seeing the sights. Krakow’s recently renovated Szczepański Square (Polish:Plac Szczepański) wasn’t always one of the most stunning plazas in Poland, but it certainly is today. Located just two minute’s walk from the Main Market Square (you can see the spires of Saint Mary’s Basilica rising over the townhouses to the east) and boasting many great cafes, restaurants, and nightlife options, it is the perfect place to have a coffee in the morning, to rent bikes or Segways for an afternoon ride, or to have a fun night out on the town. To reach Szczepański Square from the Main Market Square, simply walk one block west down Szczepańska Street from the northwest corner of the square.
Szczepański Square only recently became the well-maintained, aesthetically pleasing public space it is today. For most of Krakow’s history, the area held a Jesuit church and cemetery. Neither the church nor the headstones survived the 19th century, when the church was demolished to make the space more suitable for public use. It is interesting to speculate that the bodies themselves were likely not moved, or even disturbed until renovations occurred in 2010. The plaza has served as a fruit market, car park, and was briefly even a parade ground for Napoleon’s army during the French dictator’s ill-fated march towards Russia. The façade of the building at the corner of Jagiellonska Street dates back to 1798, and the Old Theater located inside (Polish: Teatr Stary), which is the oldest theater in Poland, to 1907.
Szczepański Square is also a wonderful place for art lovers to visit, as it has not one but two art museums displaying exhibitions from Poland’s art scene, past and present. On the Plaza’s west side adjacent to the Planty is the Palace of Arts (Polish: Palac Sztuki), opened in 1854, while the Bunker of Arts (Polish: Bunkier Sztuki), one of Krakow’s largest museums of modern art, stands to the north.
Images by Hannah Bialic for Absolute Tours
Szczepański Square Info
Address: Plac Szczepański, Kraków, Poland
Map ref: 50.0642669,19.9330107
More info about the Szczepański Square can be found here.
Opening hours: Always open.
Best time to see it: Early Evening