Results 1-10of 24 Reviews
January 24, 2012
Prague, Czech Republic
November 19, 2008
From journal Krakow in November
Carshalton, United Kingdom
June 19, 2004
From journal Krakow - History, Culture and Legends
Rath Cairn, Ireland
March 11, 2005
The restaurant is one of the most expensive in Krakow, but the café is a great resting place for feet tired out by stairs and tours.
The castle tours are great for anyone who likes princesses and knights, or furniture, architecture, and interior decoration. A unique collection of heads (sculpted in wood, not chopped off!) is exhibited in the audience hall’s ceiling to remind the king that he is under scrutiny and to give him the benefit of different experiences.
For kids, the grotto at the foot of the hill by the river is guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. But he only manages to breathe fire in the summer. Perhaps the Polish winter is too cold for him!
Go early in the morning to get your tickets, since even on a freezing February weekday with snow, tickets to the castle tours were selling out before 10am.
The castle is run by the state and is closed on Mondays and free on Wednesdays.
The cathedral, run by the Catholic Church, is subject to a separate entry fee. Like the castle, it is very interesting from an historical and architectural point of view. It has the tombs of kings, poets, and saints.
The tours are not suitable for wheelchairs, and buggies must be left in the cloakroom. It is quite interesting to look around the outside even if you can't get in.
From journal Krakow In the Snow
April 17, 2004
How to judge where the real heart beats? For me, Wawel is the most impressive and most resonant in history and significance. That seemed to be echoed by the fact that visitors numbered at least as many proud Poles as curious tourist foreigners.
For more than five centuries, Wawel was Poland’s seat of power and government and, even when the capital formally became Warsaw, kings continued to be buried in the cathedral (9am-3pm Tues-Sat, 12-3pm Sun). Fragments of the earliest structure (from 1020) can still be seen, though the current Gothic building dates from C14. On entering the cathedral, look up for prehistoric bones hanging by the door – supposedly the Krak dragon (of whom more below), though in fact a mix of mammoth/whale/hairy rhinoceros; removal is supposed to presage destruction of the cathedral. Inside, you’re immediately faced with the overwhelming giant sarcophagus (the Mausoleum of St Stanislav), and, to the side, a beautifully sculpted marble tomb of King Wladyslaw Jagiello.
Your eye is drawn down towards the choir-stalls which dominate the centre of the edifice, down to the Baroque high altar. Down signposted steps is the crypt housing the remains of 41 Polish monarchs (only four are elsewhere), and the cathedral museum (10am-3pm Tues-Sun, 5zl) in the northeast corner behind the sacristy includes illuminated texts and church ceremonial regalia and curiosities. From the outside, the dazzling golden dome catches the sun most attractively. Cathedral tickets are bought at a separate office 2 minutes back downhill – timed entry in high season.
The castle is divided into four sections, not all of which are open at once (State rooms – Komnaty Krolewskie; Treasury/armoury – Skarbiec; "Lost Wawel" – Zaginiony; and Orient Museum – Sztuka Wschodu). The first two are excellent, with guided tours round the art works, sculpture and tapestries plus salons in tableaux vivant; and a well-presented collection of jewels, crowns, china, baubles coupled with guns, swords, cannons, armour (for man, child and horse) and ferocious maces and daggars. Highly entertaining for all the family though the "star" exhibit (the Szczerbiac sword –C13 copy of 1018 original) did little for me.
The approach towards the cathedral, up the hill, gives a fine view over the river Wista, and you’ll espy below a path on which a metallic statute of the Krak dragon stands (picture below) on guard to the "Dragon’s Cave" (Smocza Jama – May-Sept 10am-5pm daily, 3zl – leave it to the school parties). Snatch a photo when Poles aren’t clambering on the rocky podium – if not, postcards abound. Occasionally, the dragon entertains by breathing fire (though he’s a law unto himself as to timing).
From journal Memories and memorials in Krakow
Zoo York, New York
November 7, 2008
From journal Dziękuję Poland
August 3, 2006
July 31, 2001
The construction of the Renaissance castle was begun by Master Rosemberger and Francesco the Florentine, who executed decorative stone elements and the arcaded galleries. Their work was continued by Master Benedykt and Bartolomeo Berrecci. The castle is one of the most stately monuments of Renaissance architecture in Europe.
The rooms of the Renaissance Wawel residence had a truly royal decoration. The idea was to glory the righteousness of the sovereign of Poland and to arouse fear in his enemies. Some elements of the decoration have survived like the painted friezes, wooden ceilings, and carved architraves. I can't believe anything could survive eleven hundred years.
A collection of the Flemish tapestries that once belonged to King Sigismund Augustus is historically connected with the Wawel. Towards the end of the 18th century, during the third partition of Poland, they were carried away to Russia and were returned in the 1920s. In the first days of the Second World War they were evacuated to Romania, then France, then England and then Canada. They came back to Wawel in 1961 and were hung in the royal chambers once again. After seeing all of the Egyptian treasurers that are housed in London museums, I am surprised that Poland got its treasurers back.
Some of the rooms have marble fireplaces and ceilings with paintings in gilded frames. After King Sigismund III left Cracow in 1609, Wawel in fact lost its function as a royal residence.
Following the third partition of Poland in 1795, Wawel was converted into Austrian army barracks. The army did not leave Wawel until 1905 at which point restoration work began. The Wawel castle began to function as an official residence of the president of Poland.
During the Second World War, Wawel was the seat of the occupation authorities of the Government General and residence of Hans Frank. The year 1992 marked the commencement of large-scale repairs and conservation work in the Royal Castle and the nearby Cathedral, to prepare Wawel for the celebrations of the millennium of the Bishopric of Cracow in 2000.
Today the Wawel Royal Castle is a museum. The permanent exhibition in it features a 19th century furnished interior. In addition, temporary displays are mounted here. It is an architectural marvel not to be missed.
From journal Surprisingly Beautiful Cracow
New York, New York
June 26, 2001
From journal Beautiful Krakow
June 12, 2002
The current Gothic cathedral was constructed in the early 14th century by Ladislaus the Short, and dedicated by Bishop Nanker to St. Stanislaus the Bishop. In 1320, Ladislaus the Short was crowned here, 13 years later he was buried here, and henceforth this would be the location for all royal coronations, weddings, and funerals, even after the court had moved to Warsaw.
The centre of the cathedral is dominated by the early 17th-century Confessional of St. Stanislaus the Bishop. In the side spaces you can find such delights as Wit Stwosz's 1492 Gothic Chapel of the Holy Cross, and Francis Florentin's 1502 Renaissance Chapel of King John Albert. There is also a stairway leading up to the belfry where you will find some superb views, and Jan Beham's 1520 Sigismund Bell, an 11-ton giant. Back on the ground you will find a staircase leading down to the Crypt of St Leonard. This is the oldest part of the cathedral, and along with the lower part of the tower of silver bells, is all that remains of the Romanesque basilica that stood here in 1142.
From 1333 until the partition ended the Polish monarchy in the late 18th century, all the kings of Poland were buried here (except for King Ladislaus of Vana, whose body was not recovered after the battle of Vana in 1444, and whose absence is marked by an empty sepulcher). Following the reunification of the country in the 19th century, the Royal Crypts were interconnected to form a single necropolis that was augmented, due to the absence of a monarchy, with the remains of national heroes and artists. This created a place of pride for the newly independent Polish people.
The Cathedral is open 9am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday and 2:15pm to 5pm on Sundays; entrance is 6 zloty - it is well worth a visit.
From journal Krakow: Poland's Cracking Old Capital