Wawel Hill and Wawel Castle in Kraków


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Probably no other place in Poland is as Polish as Wawel Hill. It is a storehouse of Poland's national identity which keeps treasures from different periods of Polish history. It all started here when Vistulanians built a citadel. Later it was replaced by a series of buildings including the Renaissance castle and Gothic cathedral that stand here until today. Wawel Hill was fortified from early times.

Today only small fragments of the oldest Gothic fortifications remain. Fortunately three towers from the second half of 15th century did survive. Each one has a name: Senatorial Tower, Sandomierz Tower and the Thieves' Tower. Wawel played a defensive role until 19th century and most of the fortifications which stand here today date from the late 18th to mid 19th century.

The Wawel Cathedral (Cathedral of Sw. Stanislaw) is considered by Poles as a spiritual shrine. It was founded by King Wladyslaw the Short in the 14th century. Since then almost all kings with some exceptions, were crowned and buried here. War trophies of kings were also laid here at Sw Stanislaw's tomb. Recently in 2010, Polish president Lech Kaczynski who died in Smolensk plane crash, was buried here as well. The cathedral has a nave and two aisles. The nave of the cathedral is surrounded by a number of chapels from various periods. The most beautiful of them is the Zygmunt's Chapel, which is one of the most important monuments of the Renaissance in Poland. It has a golden dome and inside there is a huge 11-ton Zygmunt's Bell. Next to the Cathedral there is a museum which contains a valuable collection of pieces from the Cathedral treasury.

The Wawel Royal Castle was built for King Zygmunt I from Jagiellonian Dynasty and is one of the most beautiful Renaissance residences in Central Europe. This royal seat was decorated by the best artists from all over Europe. The structure is focused on the magnificent courtyard surrounded by arcades, which was later used as a model for many other castles in Poland. When royal residence was moved to Warsaw in 17thcentury, Wawel castle was left deserted. Today it is a great historic monument. Besides the Renaissance courtyard, Wawel Castle offers many other attractions. The Royal Armoury has a rich collection of arms and armour. The Royal Treasury houses many precious objects as well. On the top storey of the Castle there are Royal State Rooms. They impress by their size and the richness of their decoration. They contain many precious paintings and other art works. The Royal Private Apartments on the middle storey of the castle are generally lower and less flamboyant than the State Rooms. They include bedrooms and offices for the royal family and important court officers.

*Entrance to the Wawel Cathedral is free. But if you want to visit the Zygmunt's Bell or Royal Tombs or Museum of Cathedral you need to buy entrance tickets in price of 12 PLN (normal) and 7 PLN (reduced).

Entrance tickets in Wawel Castle:

Royal State Rooms:

17 PLN normal

10 PLN reduced

Royal Private Apartments:

24 PLN normal

18 PLN reduced

Crown Treasury and Armoury:

17 PLN normal

10 PLN reduced

Exhibition Oriental Art:

8 PLN normal

5 PLN reduced

Exhibition The Lost Wawel:

8 PLN normal

5 PLN reduced

Dragon's Den

3 PLN normal

free – children under 7 years old

*It is good to start sightseeing Wawel Castle in the morning, because some parts of it are closed at 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. On Mondays most of it is closed.

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