The originally Gothic WAWEL CASTLE or ZAMEK WAWELSKI, was built by Casimir II the Great and consisted of a number of structures situated around the central courtyard.
The Gothic structures were severely damaged in a fire in 1499. It was rebuilt in the 15th century in a Renaissance style as it is this present day.
Situated on a limestone hill (Wawel Hill) overlooking the Vistula River.
Hans and I visited Wawel Castle on the Monday after the VT Meet. It was a nice walk from our B& B Unikat. The first thing we saw, after climbing a sloping hill, were the Entrance Gates - Herbowa Gate (photo #1). The massive and beautiful Wawel Cathedral was to the right. That day there were many school group tours, so it was quite busy. Across from the Cathedral was a sculpture dedicated to Pope John Paul II. As you walk further, to the right is the Devil's Tower. To the right along the path, you have wonderful vistas of the Vistula River. Further on you come to the exit Gate or Brama Bernardynska.
Located within Wawel Castle, the 14th century WAWEL CATHEDRAL - KATEDRA WAWELSKA - is the spiritual center of Poland and the burial place of nearly all Polish Kings and National Heroes. It was also the Cathedral of Pope John Paul II before he left for the Vatican.
Wawel Cathedral stands on Wawel Hill - a 15-acre limestone outcropping on the banks of the Vistula River.
The interior of Wawel Cathedral contains 18 Chapels. The most notable is the Kaplica Zygmuntowska ( Sigismund Chapel) built in 1517 - 33 and houses the Tombs of King Sigismund, King Sigismund II Augustus and Ann Jagiellonka. Sigismund Chapel, with its golden dome exterior, is considered to be the finest Renaissance Chapel north of the Alps.
Dominating the Nave, is the mausoleum of St. Stanislav, Poland's patron saint.
Since 1037, Wawel Cathedral has been the burial place of Polish Kings. The Royal Tombs of all but four of Poland's 45 Kings can be seen in the Cathedral side chapels and in the 12th century St. Leonard's Crypt. King Kazimierz the Great's tomb is to the right of the main altar and is made of red marble.
Open Monday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:15 to 5:00 p.m.
Admission 10 zl
Favorite thing: When visiting Wavel Castle.intending to visit the cathedral, take an article of clothing to cover bare shoulders..my wife was refused admittance on a scorching hot day.The young priest who refused us admission was most apologetic,advising us we could return another day to use the ticket,unfortunately we were leaving next day.
My favorite here is of cours the Wawel Castle and the Cathedral.
There is too the cash dispenser, souvenirs shops, cafe, restaurant, exhibition and conference centre, tourist service office, the royal garden, dragon`s den, tickets information, luggage rooms, toilets, telephone, post office and tourist centre.
Fondest memory: from the Royal Garden can you see great panorama for the Wisla river.
Well, some guidebook said to just walk around the castle, so I did. And you know, I think it was enough. The castle grounds are beautiful and offer great views of the river and of the city. The crowds aren't too bad either but tend to all congregate in the same places.
Fondest memory: Beautiful views of the river.
Favorite thing: The second big area to visit is Wawel castle. It is a hill with a fortification around it, the actual castle (with different exhibits and tours available) and the Cathedral. You have to buy tickets at two different places (one is only for the Cathedral and the other one for the rest). There is a socalled Dragon's grotto, which is only open starting in May.
Favorite thing: It's all housed here. This castle seems to be the most cherished of all things in Poland. There is reverence when they speak of it... and you cannot leave without seeing it. The courtyard is a fantasy.... even in the pouring rain with which we were greeted. Miraculously some things were saved from the bombs of war...and this Wawel Castle and Krakow were blessed to be amongst that list of lucky places. They were meant to stand forever to carry the history and culture of the country. Small wonder it is now on the World Heitage list of places which will always be protected. You simply must see it.
The what? The chakra, a supposedly Hindu term for spiritual energy, has somehow found its way inside the Wawel Castle's courtyard. Not everybody seems to be aware of this phenomena, and I just happened to learn of it from observing the strange behavior of a small group of Russian tourists who appeared to be trying to communicate with the wall using some sort of body language.
Fondest memory: I waited until the Russians departed and then initiated my own interpretation of the "chakra" ritual, behaving in an even more baffling manner as I simultaneously imitated the "Egyptian Lover" disco move and chanted "chak chak" like the Indonesian kecak singers. To my delight the next group of tourists had a vague understanding of the Wawel Chakra phenomena and seemed delighted that a serious practitioner was there to provide an authentic exhibition of the "chakra" dance.
This was in December of 2000 when I visited Krakow. I have since learned that the northwestern corner of the courtyard has been roped off since 2001, perhaps my own interpretation evolved into something much crazier since the time it was first passed on.
Favorite thing: The operational hours are a little weird, so I didn't get a chance to go inside and look around much, just being in the courtyard of Wawel Castle takes you back to the ages of Polish queens and kings. Just like in a fairy tale, the castle rises above the city of Krakow on a hill with a dragon cave underneath.
The cathedral dominating this spot used to be the place where the coronation of Polish kings was held; it was also their burial place.
That is misterious place. Entering to cathedral you will feel something ... you are arrived to old medieval time.
Another one of many tapestries adorning Krakow & at Wawel Castle...
At some of the souvenir shops around Krakow & Wawel Castle, we can actually buy some small prints or replicas of these tapestries.
Some are printed in postcard forms & we could get the whole collections of these beautifully woven tapestries from the collections of King Sigismund Augustus, from the 16th century.
Sigismund Augustus Tapestry Collections
The above link is a good website where you can see the collections of these tapestries, but it's in German.
Another fine example of the beautiful tapestry adorning the wall of Wawel Castle.
In the first days of the Second World War these tapestries were evacuated to Romania and next through France and England to Canada.
They came back to Wawel in 1961, to be hung in the royal chambers again.
In Wawel Castle, there's an exhibition of tapestries from the collection of Sigismund Augustus..
The images on the tapestries are derived from biblical stories & biblical/medieval characters, strewn/embroidered beautifully.
A collection of the Flemish tapestries that once belonged to King Sigismund Augustus (1548-1572) is historically connected with the Wawel rooms. The history of the tapestries abounded in dramatic events. Towards the end of the 18th century, during the third partition of Poland, they were carried away to Russia, from where they returned as late as the 1920s.
One of the reasons & my fondest memory being Krakow was visiting Wawal Castle.
Wawel is the symbol of Poland.
It was the seat of the Kings for almost 500 years & although the centre of power has been moved to Warsaw but Wawel still retained the national history of Poland.
It's one of the most visited sights in Poland.
Come here early to avoid the crowds who will be lining up to explore this beautiful castle in Poland.
This photo was taken on my way to Wawel Castle.
I noticed there was 'a ghost' woo-ing passers-by as we were all walking on the road leading to the Castle.
I always loved seeing all these performance artists doing their performance arts in places that I have been to around Europe. Vienna, Rome, Florence, Berlin....they are all over Europe & what they are doing is so creative from my perspective...
it is a thriving (free) art in Europe !