Standing proudly and dignified, the Town Hall Tower belongs to one of the best known tourist attractions in Cracow. Immemorial seat of municipal authorities can be only seen on engravings and paintings. The only remains are 55cm vertically declined tower, with coarse interior remaining of its rich past, which we can visit.
This architectural symbol of power, domination and political prestige of Cracow originates back to the year 1316. In middle ages, the building was continuously expanded. In 1454, municipal councilors brought to Cracow Torun are Master Jan and employed him for the rooftop construction. It was probably at this time when the building was about to be finished. It was constructed in the 15th century, later a renaissance part was added in 16th century. The building survived until 1820 when it was demolished. In 1967, after a complex conservation which underlined its gothic ancestry, object was given to the Historical Museum in Cracow for management of it.
We enter into 70m high building through wide staircase, guarded from both sides by two stone lion sculptures that came from Palace Park in Pławowice. Ground floor hall was formerly opulent with treasury, where insignia of councilor’s authority were stored with golden, silver and tin objects.
We can admire unique set of mason's characters stone masons' marks dated back to 1444. It is a signature of stone-workers crowning the construction. Access to upper levels goes through stone narrow stairs inside monumental wall.
Spacious first floor room belongs to one of the most beautiful gothic interiors in Cracow. The restoration brought back its beautiful cross-ribbed dome, the remains of polychrome and gilding marks. There are stone pews in the walls, above which are shown alcoves called almaria. They are used to expose saved masonry details. In the summertime, this wonderful interior was used as an exhibition of present Cracow's artists' work. In the near future, there is going to be an exposition presenting the history of Cracow's municipality and its residence.
Unfortunately 2nd floor’s room is not intended for sightseeing as there is located the Monitoring Station of National Environment Protection Inspection. The room is much higher than 1st floor and it is covered with wooden coffered ceiling, lightened with three acute arch windows. Walls are made of brick, with separate stone architectural topping which is currently being renovated.
3rd floor room is belvedere style. We can admire an exhibition of incredibly charming archive photographs of Ignacy Krieger, Henryk Hermanowicz and Stanisław Kolowiec presenting Cracow Main Market Square from the beginning of the last century and a huge photograph called "Self portrait of Cracovians" made on 24th of March 2004 by Ryszard Horowitz. Difficult access to the highest floor available for guests is rewarded by the ability to observe the wonderful city view. There is also a possibility to look closer at Cracow through mounted field - glasses.
2nd attraction is placed in the centre old clock mechanism founded by Chambers of Crafts. Visitors can admire all its components. Present mechanism is radio controlled from Mainfligen and it is synchronized with the atomic wave clock. During a power outage the clocks stops, then when power resumes, it resets itself and continues work. It requires almost no personnel or conservation.
In the vaults, there are remains of old town hall's basements which were used originally in many ways. Main basement room was taken by famous "Świdnicka Basement" also called "India", where city council took its profit on beer and wine sales. Its name originated from delicious Silesian beer imported from Świdnica. The name survived until the hall demolition. Since the 18th century, it has acquired a bad name in Cracow. The name was changed to "hog's" (in Polish it sounds familiar). The new name even occurred in formal documents.
The basement was separated by only a single wall from the city's dungeons. Next to them there were torture chambers, used for interrogations and very imaginative torture. This was a home place of a torturer, who had used various imaginative methods to get a confession.
Currently, basements have two hosts. In the tower's vaults, there is theatre "Under Town Hall", which belongs to the Popular Theatre and a cafeteria. By making this place accessible for visitors, Cracow added one more mysterious place where monumental building and the history create unforgettable atmosphere.