Wawel Royal castle
A symbol and a major historical landmark in Poland is Wawel castle, named one of the seven wonders of Poland. Located on the banks of the Vistula river, it centuries served as the residence of Polish kings. The foot this kind of the Kremlin securely guards the legendary dragon smoke (really bronze), every few minutes spewing flames.
Myths and facts
The history of the castle begins in XI century when on the Wawel hill with a height of 228 meters were built the first wooden fortifications. In 1290-1300, at the behest of Wenceslaus II they were replaced by a more robust stone, and in the XIV century the castle was rebuilt by Casimir III the Great.
The building has played an important role in the life of the country – the six centuries from the XI to the XVII century there lived the Polish monarchs.
The heyday of the Wawel castle falls on the XIV century. Under king Kazimierz the Great Krakow became the capital of the Kingdom of Poland. But in 1569 as a result of the Union of Lublin Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania formed a single Commonwealth. In fact Krakow was on the border of a huge state and gradually lost its political importance.In 1609, in the castle a strong fire broke out. King Sigismund III Vasa did not want to restore the former residence and moved to Warsaw (located in the center of the state), although the Krakow before 1795 was considered to be the capital of Poland.
The castle gradually coming into decline, expect unenviable fate: construction, survived several wars, destruction, rebuilding, fires (1499 and 1595 years), robbery, Russian, Turkish and Prussian troops, served as a barrack for Austrian soldiers in the XVIII century, and the residence of the German Governor-General Hans Frank during the Second world war.
In 1905 the poles bought the strengthening of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and started restoration work, which, by the way, last today.
In 1930, the medieval castle was again declared the official state residence. Now parts of the property used as museums, and in one of the halls of monthly concerts of ancient music.
What to see
Initially, the Royal citadel was built in the Gothic style, later it was reconstructed from the late sixteenth century to the Renaissance and early Baroque. The building is an architectural ensemble of buildings and three surviving towers (XIV-XV century).
The Palace is surrounded by fortified walls, the entrance to it leads through the front gate. The entrance is a monument to Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the national hero of Poland.
In the yard-building is the rotunda of the blessed virgin Mary is the oldest building in Krakow.
Interesting bronze Wawel castle in miniature, the Royal chambers with the Embassy hall, where the ceiling is made in the form of carved wooden heads (1630-ies); the Treasury; Armory; exhibition “the Lost Wawel” (a collection of archaeological finds).
The highlight of the castle – the dragon’s Den – a cave in the limestone rock. According to one legend, there lived the monster was slain by the sons of Krak, the founder of the city. The cave is 270 m, the length of the tourist trail 80 m, maximum height 10 m. In XII-XIII centuries it was used as a secret entrance to the castle, and in the XVII-XVIII centuries there was a tavern.
The castle is the Cathedral of St. Stanislaus and Wroclaw.
Other attractions: the tallest building in Poland – Palace of culture and science built by Stalin in Warsaw, the old town in the style of the Italian Renaissance – zamość fortress.
Wawel Royal castle (Zamek Królewski na Wawelu) open daily
from 6.00 to 17.00 on weekdays and from 10.00 to 17.00 on weekends April-October,
from 9.30 to 16.00 November-March.
Cost: each exhibition is paid for separately (there is a limit on the number of visitors in the summer).
State rooms – 18 zl (about 4.3 €) in summer, 16 in winter, zl.
Royal apartments – 25 zl 21 zl.
Dragon’s lair – 3 zl.
The Sandomierz tower – zl 4 (July-August open until 19.00).
Free admission (only for individual visitors, should be booked at the ticket office) on Mondays April-October, on Sundays November-March.