Wawel Castle, Krakow
The Wawel Royal Castle was the seat of power and home to three dynasties of Poland's monarchs. Inside the castle visitors can visits the cathedral the burial site for Polish kings, the castle Renaissance courtyard, the collection of the 16th-century Flemish tapestries, the Bell Tower, Dragon’s Den, a medieval tower, and the royal garden. I didn’t get to see all but of what I saw it was enjoyable. It is located on Wawel Hill overlooking the Vistula River.
If you have visited castles around Europe, this is not much different. It has certain sections of Royal Apartments , areas where important people would be received and entertained, etc,etc. It was an interesting place to visit. Many if not all of the exhibits are timed. So you go to the ticket office and are assigned a timed ticket because of limited space in the buildings and on certain tours( you have to have a guide for example to visit the royal apts). You can wander around the rest of the area on your own, but going inside many of the buildings required separate purchase, its all on one ticket but your ticket shows what you purchased. Anyway, i was not sure what to see and asked what they recommend as far as what most tourists see because i had no idea what to single out to see. I relied on their " expertise" to make recommendations. They see what tourists visit most times, i asked for some advice. First of all the lady barely spoke English and was rude. Then her supervisor came over and was even worse. Then they tried to sell me a ticket that was getting ready to start in 5 minutes and was in a complete opposite area of the castle, i had no idea where to go! i was never there before, i didnt know the grounds. She shows me a crappy map, in meantime , time is ticking away. I asked for a later time to visit the royal apartments and i got all kind of attitude. Really very rude people working here.. the worst i have seen...
Dragons Den: This is one of the separate places you can purchase to visit. On other side of grounds, its very cheap to buy entrance to this place. If you are claustophobic i wouldnt go though, you descend down countless stairs in a round circle... i started to get dizzy and feel out of sorts after descending many steps, i dont know how many but it was a lot, maybe 75 or more. it seemed endless. and once you start, you cant turn back. THen you are in this cave... it has some light there so you are totally not in the dark, but i didnt like having to descend to the abyss with those steps... i hated the experience..
The Wawel Cathedral was the coronation and burial site of the Polish monarchs. Its history dates back to the 11th century. Pieces of the first Cathedral are still present on Wawel Hill.
The 18 chapels demonstrate a variety of architectural styles. The Cathedral is home of the giant bell Zygmunt from 1520, which is among the world's largest bells.
The Wawel Cathedral is situated adjacent to the Castle on top of Wawel Hill, which is a 50 m high rock on the edge of the Old Town.
According to legend, long before the city of Krakow existed an evil dragon lived around Wawel Hill. It lived in a cave and stole sheep and feasted on virgins.
A dragon sculpture at the outside of the cave reminds on this legend. The sculpture was designed by a local artist in 1972.
The Wawel Castle used to be the residence of Polish monarchs from the 11th to the early 17th century.
After Krakow lost its capital status to Warsaw, the castle was occupied by foreign powers during several wars. The Castle offers a mixture of architectural styles and is home of a large arcaded inner courtyard.
The Wawel Castle is situated on top of the Wawel Hill, which is a 50 m high rock on the edge of the Old Town.
Most likely the best know feature of Wawel Castle is its fire breathing dragon which sits below the castle walls along the edge of the Visla River and in front of its dragon CAVE.
If you want to know more about this Polish legend -
Another "attraction" at the Wawel Castle is the views over the river Visla, elevated about 20 meters above the river with the additional height of the walls, the view is fantastic.
The third photo here shows a statue in the Wawel Castle grounds and whenever we see a statue we check to see just who this person is, and here concerning the statue of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, it totally caught me by surprise. This Polish guy with a statue in Wawel Castle in Krakow is actually an AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE WAR HERO.....
Take a look at -
In the fourth photo we also saw a very unusual square/round tower in the castle grounds with stepped alcoves, have never seen this type of construction before.
Also for more information on the castle itself -
Wawel Castle, smack dab in the middle of the old center of Krakow gives you many things, not least among them a great view over the river Vistula, since it sits on a knoll several dozen meters above its surroundings. Beautiful red brick and mortar walls surround it on all sides and loom over you on several sides. The entrance gate is covered in a brilliant green climbing ivy that has turned this gate into a "natural" setting instead of the sentinal it once was. If you take a close look behind the castle walls you will see wildly different architectures side by side.
If you would like to know more, take a look at the castle web site -
Here for six centuries lived three Polish dynasties, the Piast , Jagiellonian and Waza
It has a large patio with three galleries with columns and arches and it is decorated with frescoes by Hans Dürer
On the first floor was the "planta nobile" where are the king's chambers and the most sumptuous rooms.
The interior of the palace can be visited and are remarkable the Royal Apartments, the State Halls , and the Chamber of Deputies
You can also visit the Treasure and Armoury Rooms
The architects tried to make Italian-style building, but adapting to the climate of Poland, we can see the beautiful sloping roofs , with a high inclination in order that snow does not accumulate and on the terraces and balconies intended to maximize the light
Aquí vivieron durante seis siglos tres dinastías Polacas , los Piast , Jagellones y los Waza
Tiene un gran patio con tres galerías con columnas y arcos que están decoradas con frescos de Hans Durero
En el primer piso estaba la planta noble donde estaban los aposentos del rey y las salas más suntuosas .
El interior del palacio se puede visitar y allí destacan los aposentos reales , las Salas de Estado , y la Sala de los Diputados
También se puede visitar La Sala del Tesoro y la Armería
Los arquitectos pretendieron hacer un edificio de estilo Italiano pero adaptándolo al clima de Polonia , lo que podemos ver en los preciosos tejados con inclinación suficiente para para que la nieve no se acumule y en las terrazas y balcones que pretenden aprovechar al máximo la luz
The Cathedral of St. Wenceslas and St. Stanislaus is a three halls Gothic church which was added 18 funeral chapels of Renaissance style , the most remarkable is that of Sigismund I and from the outside you can see its golden dome where is the considered the world's largest bell (Zygmunt)
Here are buried most of the kings of Poland, including Jan Sobieski III, which is one of my "favourites" who at the late seventeenth century, won a great battle to liberate Vienna , at the head of the Polish hussars and so he stopped the advance in Europe of Muslims and Turks . He never was grateful enough.
They are also buried the greatest national heroes (Poniatowski, Tadeusz Kosciuszko ...), poets (Adam Mickiewcz ...), saints, bishops ...
Recently it has been buried President Lech Kaczynski who died in a plane crash
Here celebrated his first Mass a young priest named Wojtyla
La Catedral de San Wenceslao y San Estanislao es una iglesia gótica de tres naves a la que se le añadieron 18 capillas funerarias laterales de estilo renacentista , entre las que destaca la de Segismundo I y desde el exterior se puede ver su cúpula dorada donde está la que se puede considerar la mayor campana del mundo (Zygmunt )
Aquí están enterrados la mayor parte de los reyes de Polonia , entre ellos Jan Sobieski III , que es uno mis "favoritos" ya que a finales del siglo XVII ganó la gran batalla para liberar Viena al frente de los húsares polacos y así frenó el avance turco y musulmán sobre Europa , lo cual nunca le fue agradecido bastante .
También están enterrados los más grandes héroes nacionales ( Poniatowski , Tadeus Kosciuszko ... ) , poetas ( Adam Mickiewcz...) , santos , obispos ...
Recientemente ha sido enterrado el presidente Lech Kaczynski que falleció en un accidente aereo
aquí celebró su primera misa un jóven seminarista llamado Wojtyla
This hill is situated near the Vistula and since the eleventh century is the social and political center of Poland as here are a Christian church, the Cathedral and the Royal Castle until 1596 when King Sigismund Vasa decided to change the capital of Poland to Warsaw
For 500 years the kings of Poland were born here, were baptised, lived and were crowned and buried
On the hill there are two curious things:
- The dragon's cave where legend said that a dragon lived here and that the king promised half his kingdom and his daughter who killed him. A young shoemaker asked a very large sheep , he filled it with sulphur and tar. The dragon swallowed it , became very thirsty and went down to the Vistula river to drink . He drank so much that exploded.
- Long ago, Shiva threw seven magic stones, into seven parts of the world that began to radiate energy, and one of them landed in Krakow
Krakow's chakra, associated with Jupiter, is in the Northwest corner of the courtyard of the royal castle in the chancel of the Church of St. Gereon (You can not visit)
Legend says that this chakra produce energy, protect the city and revives the forces that give life
Although officially it does not exist , many people come to visit experience this phenomenon
Esta colina que está situada a orillas del vístula , fue desde el siglo XI el centro político y social de Polonia ya que en ella conviven un templo cristiano , la Catedral y un Castillo Real hasta que en 1596 el Rey Segismundo Vasa se llevó la capital de Polonia a Varsovia
Durante 500 años los reyes de Polonia nacieron aquí , se bautizaron , vivieron y fueron coronados y enterrados
En la colina hay dos cosas curiosas :
- La cueva del dragón donde la leyenda cuenta que vivía un dragón y que el rey prometió la mitad de su reino y a su hija a aquel que lo matara . Un jóven zapatero pidió una oveja muy grande que la llenó de azufre y alquitrán . El dragón se lo tragó , le entró mucha sed y bajó al Vistula a beber agua donde bebió tanta que explotó .
- Hace mucho tiempo, Shiva lanzó siete piedras mágicas , hacia siete partes del mundo , que comenzaron a irradiar energía , y una de ellas aterrizó en Cracovia
El chakra de Cracovia , asociado con Júpiter , está en la esquina noroeste del patio del castillo real , en el presbiterio de la Iglesia de San Gereón ( No se puede visitar )
cuenta la leyenda que este chakra a parte de producir energía , protege a la ciudad y hace renacer las fuerzas que dan la vida
A pesar de que oficialmente esto no existe hay mucha gente que acude a vivir este fenómeno
Inside the Cathedral, as inside the Castle, there is a strict interdiction of taking photographs. It seemed to me that the management of this historical site shows some signs of "photophobia" in their way of chasing any tentative to take a picture as souvenir from the visit.
Consequently I have no visual marks to remember me what I liked on my visit of the Cathedral.
When entering the Cathedral I saw immediately that there were not only crowds of visitors, often groups, but that this church is really overcrowded with monuments of all kinds. As soon as you enter you face at a short distance the imposing mausoleum (1630) of St. Stanislav, Poland's saint patron, the 11th-century Krakow bishop murdered by King Boleslav II. The silver coffin is just amazing but this monument blocks any perspective on the remaining part of the nave.
And that is only the start. There are nearly one hundred tombs - often real treasures of art - of saints, kings, prelates. Not one square meter is left free. Most remarkable is the tall Black Christ's Crucifix from Queen-Saint Jadwiga. There are also 18 side chapels full of treasures.
The visit of the Cathedral took me more than one hour, nearly two hours with Crypts, Bell and Museum.
The Cathedral is open from 9h -17h, Sunday and holidays 12.30h - 16h. (Cathedral museum is closed on Sunday).
Admission price to the Cathedral together with the Zygmunt bell, Royal Tombs and Cathedral museum: normal 12 zlotys, reduced 7 zlotys. The ticket office is across from the Cathedral entrance.
I strongly recommend hiring an audio guide (7 languages on choice) at a price of 7 PLN (+ deposit of 50 PLN) to have a full explanation on the most remarkable items to be seen.
Wawel Royal Castle was the seat of Polish royalty from the 11th century until the early 17th century when King Zygmunt III moved the Polish capital to Warsaw. Today, the castle functions as a museum, with some of the original Renaissance decoration, including Flemish tapestries, Italian furniture and various Italian and Dutch paintings, still existing. Among its many treasures are the Crown Treasury and Armoury, where you can see the Szczerbiec, a weapon once used to crown Polish monarchs. The Lost Wawel exhibition is centred around excavations of Wawel hill’s oldest ruins, including the oldest church known to exist in Poland, the Rotunda of St Felix and St Adauctus, which dates from the 11th century. The opening hours of the exhibition varies so check out the times for example from tourist office. There are also daily limits to the number of the visitors and cause this is one of the must things to see in Cracow be early or be ready for disappointment. In some days there is a free admission to the exhibitions but you still have to collect free admission tickets from the ticket office. Without this free tickets you can`t get in to the castle.
Wawel Castle, located on Wawel Hill, was the seat of Poland's monarchy until the 1500s, when the capital was moved to Warsaw. Much of the castle is open to the public. However, they limit the number of visitors, so you need to buy tickets in advance in order to tour the interior. The highlights of the interior are the royal apartments (where the royal family lived), the state rooms (featuring the castle's excellent collection of tapestries), the Oriental collection (seized from the Turks during the Ottoman wars), and the treasury, which features a good collection of armor and numerous decorative religious items.
The exterior courtyard of the castle looks very Italian, probably because it was designed by an Italian architect, and features lots of balconies. In the 1800s and early 1900s the castle fell into disrepair, and wasn't restored until after the 1st World War. Fortunately, along with the rest of Krakow, it survived World War II (in which it was occupied by the Germans) relatively intact.
Wawel Castle is home to 3 dynasties of Polish kings, and filled with exquisite chambers and rooms. You are able to also view its many priceless treasures, art and period furniture collection on its tours..
Wawel Hill open to visitors daily from:
Apr - Sept
6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Oct - Mar
6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Exhibitions closed on Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Nov 1 and Nov 11.
Permanent exhibitions are:
Royal Chambers - historical interiors, tapestry collection, royal portraits, Italian Renaissance furniture, Italian & Dutch paintings .
Tickets: normal 12 zlotys, reduced 7 zlotys.
Free admittance on Mondays.
Royal Private Apartments - rooms where the Polish royalty lived, period furniture and art.
Tickets: normal 15 zlotys, reduced 12 zlotys (inclusive of guide service).
No day of free admittance.
English- speaking guides available at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m.
Oriental Art - Turkish tents and banners, Turkish and Persian weapons and carpets, Chinese and Japanese ceramics.
Tickets: normal 6 zlotys, reduced 4 zlotys.
No day of free admittance.
Crown Treasury and Armoury - regalia, jewelry, precious weapons, armors and caparisons; Polish and West European.
tickets normal 12 zlotys, reduced 7 zlotys.
Free admittance on Mondays.
The Lost Wawel - archaeological and architectural reserve.
Tickets: normal 6 zlotys, reduced 4 zlotys.
Free admittance on Mondays.
Dragon's Den - big cave said to be the fiery monster's hideout. (I did not get to visit this...)
tickets 3 zlotys.
every day 10 a.m. 5 p.m.
closed from the end of October till the May
Note: There is a daily limit on the number of visitors to each Wawel exhibition and box-offices issue ten tickets every ten minutes.