Amid investigations conducted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office into the archaeological digs made parallel to the square’s renovation activities in 2006, a group of experts are making obscure plans to build an underground museum.
Nearly a year after the renovation of Rynek Glowny ended, a large segment of the square still remains closed, as the Public Prosecutor’s Office searches for evidence into whether the team of archaeologists responsible to the digs broke building regulations.
The trouble began upon the completion of the renovation activities when the Voivodeship Inspectorate of Building Supervision (WINB) ruled that building regulations had been broken, as the of archeologists had dug too deep into the walls of Rynek Glowny’s underground chambers.
According to the WINB, digging was permitted only to a certain depth, and this depth was exceeded by the archaeologist group.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office is aiming to reach a decision on the case by early August.
In the meanwhile, the Krakow Road Directorate (KZD), the institution responsible for renovating Rynek Glowny, will not be able to re-open the territory under question until a legal decision has been reached.
“In my opinion, the regulations were not broken. We were doing all the work de jure,” said Jan Tajster, manager of KZD.
The director of the archaeological excavations beneath Rynek Glowny Cezary Busko emphasized the significance of their discoveries in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza.
“We found settlements from the XII century, which were later destroyed during the Tatar invasion. The XIV century layout of buildings functioned right until the XIX century. All of the relics found during our research are wonderful sources of information about the culture of Krakow’s old inhabitants.”
In Tajster’s opinion, the scale of these investigations was the largest of any such urban archaeological projects in Europe.
The basement rooms of Rynek Glowny are home to many treasures. Beneath the fenced area before Sukiennice lies a complex of so-called Kramy Bogate (Rich Stalls), which were a kind of ancestor to the Renaissance Cloth Hall.
A prosperous Medieval and Renaissance Krakow was situated on this crossing of European trade routes. Here, local stewards created a place for the large-scale exchange of merchandise. Hidden underground stalls dating back to the XIV century were a prototype for today’s commercial stands. A wide assortment of articles were traded in Krakow. But in contrast to the sale of clothing in Sukiennice, luxurious and expensive goods were available in the Kramy Bogate.
Apart from Kramy Bogate, two other interesting objects were examined during the research. These were Mala and Wielka Waga (Small and Big Scales) located nearby the Kramy Bogate.
The Mala and Wielka Waga were used for weighing and measuring large amounts of lead and copper from Romania. These interesting objects prove that in the Middle Ages Krakow was one of Europe’s important trading cities.
An underground museum
An obscure image of Medieval Krakow may one day be made available to the public. As of February 2007, a group of experts have been working on plans for underground museum. They are discussing the possible arrangements of Rynek Glowny?s cellars.
“Prominent specialists in disciplines such as archaeology, history and art preservation now have the opportunity to submit their requirements and concepts for the vaults of our underground museum. An interesting and exclusive tourist route could be created beneath the market,” said Tajster.
Past ideas for using the vaults included opening shops or art galleries, or simply as storage facilities. “This time, the plan to create a kind of underground museum might be received with interest by both local authorities and the public,” said Iwona Krol, deputy manager of KZD.
Cezary Busko, who conducted the archaeological excavations under Rynek Glowny’s flagstone, also likes the idea of making the underground publicly accessible. “It’s a wonderful idea. Some additional works could allow us to create a unique archaeological sanctuary in Krakow,” Busko said. According to experts, Krakow may be able to solicit grants from the EU to aid the construction of such a facility.
“Of course, it would be impossible for such an underground route to become economically viable simply by selling entry tickets. Next to the exhibition space, a souvenir shops could be opened. A private investor might be necessary though,” said Krol.
Preliminary concepts for the construction of the underground museum are expected in June. However, excavated objects will be on exhibition at Krakow’s Historical Museum (Palace Krzysztofory, Rynek 35) for the city’s 750th anniversary in June 2007.
When will the eastern section of the Main Market Square be re-opened?
“I really don’t know. For now, we can only be sure that the construction activities at Maly Rynek (Small Market Square) will be finished on time. The ceremonial opening will take place on June 6,” Tajster said.