Results 1-10of 24 Reviews
January 24, 2012
Prague, Czech Republic
November 19, 2008
From journal Krakow in November
Huddersfield, United Kingdom
March 13, 2008
From journal Krakow Places
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
August 30, 2006
From journal The Stags of Krakow
Birchircara, Malta Majjistral, Malta
December 20, 2004
The best way to reach Wawel Hill from Rynek Glowny is on foot. From Krakow's huge square, walk south along ul Grodzka for about 400 metres until you reach the Church of St.Peter and St.Paul, its front courtyard adorned with the colonnaded statues of the twelve apostles. Once here, take a sharp turn right, then turn left again and walk further south along ul Kanonicza that leads directly to the foot of Wawel Hill. From here, a lane takes you up a rather steep hill past the equestrian statue of the Polish hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko and leads you to a large central square. This majestic place ringed with an abundance of stately buildings still retains an air of history, symbolism and magic.
The most splendid building here is unquestionably the cathedral, its present form completed in 1364. Its beautiful external architecture enhanced by Renaissance chapels that were constructed around the main building is as outstanding as its amazing interior. Once inside, the first attraction that catches the eyes of visitors is the silver coffin of St.Stanislaus, patron saint of Poland and former bishop of Krakow. Standing right in the middle of the church and adorned with ornate bas-reliefs in silver, it is one of the most beautiful artistic works anywhere in Poland. The coffin is further enclosed within an ornamental canopy that makes it even more beautiful.
More than a score of chapels enhance the beauty of the side naves but the most splendid is unquestionably the Sigismund Chapel, its dome gilded on the outside makes it easily recognizable. This artistic showpiece is a Renaissance gem of unique beauty; you'll never find anything of this sort elsewhere. On the southwest corner of the cathedral, the Holy Cross Chapel, enriched with Byzantine frescoes and artistic works by the master craftsman of Nurnberg Veit Stoss is another extraordinary artistic achievement.
The inside of the cathedral is a permanent exhibition of marble tombstones and burial vaults where the remains of Polish kings have been preserved for centuries. If these are not enough however and you want to see more, go down to the Royal Crypt where more kings and Polish heroes are laid to rest. From the cathedral's sacristy, climb the steps to the Sigismund Tower to see the 11 ton Wawel bell, the largest bell in the country.
A second building constructed in splendid Renaissance style is Wawel castle, its present structure dating back to the mid-16th century. Neglected and partly destroyed several times by the Prussians and the Austrians, the castle was restored after World War I. The restoration works that took several years to complete were a huge success since the castle's original form and grandeur were meticulously preserved.
Today, the castle is used to house a multi-section museum. The most impressive section contains the Royal Chambers, restored to their original Baroque style and adorned with artistic furnishings and 136 splendid tapestries. Other highlights inside the castle that you shouldn't miss are the embroidered 17th-century Turkish tents, the collection of artistic Chinese porcelain, the huge display of Persian carpets and the exhibition of Oriental Art. The Armoury on the ground floor houses a collection of original weapons dating back to the 16th century and another collection of colourful banners reproduced from those recovered from the battle of Grunwald in 1410.
Walk west along the whole stretch of Wawel's central square until you reach the west corner of Wawel Hill. From here, the view of the mighty Vistula below stretching around the Jewish district of Kazimierz is excellent. Take a look far away on the horizon at the Kosciuszko Mound, an artificial hill constructed in 1820 to pay tribute to Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish defender of liberty and independence.
From here, you can climb down a flight of steps that leads you towards the Dragon's Cave. Enter the cave and walk through its interior until you exit right on the bank of the Vistula. The huge bronze statue of Wawel's legendary dragon is nearby.
From journal Artistic treasures and sacred art
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
October 18, 2000
Check out their web-site at:
From journal Krakow - the New Prague, only better
Carshalton, United Kingdom
August 3, 2006
From journal Krakow - History, Culture and Legends
May 31, 2005
Highlights of the Interior
The interior is filled with spectacular chapels, far too many to visit in one day. One of the showpieces of the church is the shrine and resting place of St Stanislas, who was martyred in 1079. This baroque chapel, with a stunning golden dome, is the first thing you see upon entering the church. A silver casket rests on a pink marble altar supported by four silver angels. The casket is extremely beautiful. This shrine is a place of pilgrimage, and crowds of tourists and the faithful gather around it. Photos are forbidden.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross I loved the Byzantine frescoes in this chapel. They cover the walls and ceiling, and there are vibrant reds, golds, and blues painted by Russian artists in 1470. They almost have a folk art look to them. This chapel also holds the tombs of King Casimir the Jagellian and queen Elizabeth of the Hapsburgs.
The gothic tomb of King Casimir the Great (d. 1370) has a wonderful renaissance canopy similar to white lace that softens the marble. The red Hungarian marble tomb was designed in 1370-82
Sumptuous Sigismund Chapel The Golden Dome, visible outside the building, is this chapel’s ceiling. Its renaissance interior holds beautiful sculptures of sandstone and marble and sarcophagi of King Sigismund and his family. Completing the chapel are two stunning altarpieces of silver artwork dedicated to the blessed virgin.
Don’t miss the"Miraculous" Crucifix. The black marble figure of Christ is purported to have spoken to Jadwiga as she knelt to pray. She had been ordered to marry the pagan Duke of Lithuania but was unwilling. Jesus asked her to go ahead with the marriage so that Lithuania would accept Christianity. Her remains are buried at the foot of this cross even though her tomb lies opposite the Sigismund Chapel. She was Poland’s most loved Queen, and although she died young, she helped found a dynasty.
The Crypts and Royal Tombs
This is the final resting place for many of the nation’s national figures and royalty. St Leonard’s Crypt is the only remnant of the 2th-century church, and it was here that Karol Wojtyla said his first mass. The Royal Crypts are very atmospheric. Several national heroes are also buried here, and some of the tombs were wreathed in flowers and flags. The royal crypts tour exits outside the cathedral, so it is best to do this tour after you have completed your visit in the cathedral and after the visit to the Sigismund Tower. Access is through the Czartorski Chapel, and you will need a ticket to see them (the cathedral admission is free).
Do climb the very narrow stairway to reach the Sigismund Tower. Your reward will be panoramic views over Krakow, and you will see five medieval bells, the largest of which (cast in 1520) weighs 11 tons. It peals on important occasions, like for Karol Wytya when he became pope, on his death, and for the new Pope (we heard its beautiful tone).
Royal Tombs includes zygmunt bell. Admission. 10 zlty. Open 9am-4pm. Sun. 12:15- 4pm
From journal Krakow Cornucopia
June 19, 2004