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 The Royal Castle on Wawel Hill

The Royal Castle on Wawel Hill

The State Art Collections in Wawel, tel.: 0048 12 4225155

Apr. – Oct.:
Tue. – Fri. 9.30 AM – 5.00 PM,
Sat. and Sun. 11.00 AM – 6.00 PM;

Nov. – Mar.:
Tue. – Sat. 9.30 AM – 4.00 PM,
Sun. 10.00 AM – 4.00 PM;

exhibitions: the State Rooms, the Royal Private Apartments and the Crown Treasury and Armoury (open Mon. 9.30 AM – 4.00 PM from Apr. – Oct., closed Sun. from Nov. – Mar.); Oriental Art (closed Sun. from Nov. – Mar.); and the archaeological exhibition, The Lost Wawel (open Mon. 9.30 AM – 1.00 PM from Apr. - Oct.).

Separate visits to the cathedral, the Royal Tombs, Zygmunt’s Tower and the Cathedral Museum, information: the Cathedral Parish of St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslas,
tel.: 0048 12 4293327,

Apr. – Sept.:
Mon. – Sat.9.00 AM – 5.00 PM;
Sun. 12.30 AM – 5.00 PM;

Oct. – Mar.:
Fri. – Sat. 9.00 AM – 4.00 PM;
Sun. 12.30 AM – 4.00 PM; museum closed Sun.
Wawel Hill is open to visitors daily from 6.00 AM until dusk; detailed information regarding the opening hours is displayed alongside the ticket offices; the arcaded courtyard closes 30 minutes before the gates to the hill are shut.

Getting there
Access Paid, underground parking is located on Powiśle Street (ul. Powiśle); it is also possible to park in the paid parking zones on Straszewskiego, Podzamcze and Bernadyńska streets (ul. Straszewskiego, ul. Podzamcze and ul. Bernardyńska). Tram nos. 3, 6, 8, 10, 18 and 40 run close by Wawel.

Tourist information
Tourist Information point: No. 9, Wawel
tel.: 0048 12 4225155 ext. 219. All essential information is also provided to tourists by the City Information Points; the Wyspiański Pavilion, at 2 Wszystkich Świętych Square is the nearest to Wawel;

Accommodation, food and drink
The Restaurant on Wawel (Restauracja „Na Wawelu”)
tel.: 0048 12 4211915

the Tower Café (Kawiarnia „Pod Basztą”)
tel.: 0048 12 4227528
The Royal Castle on Wawel Hill, both museum and historical residence of the kings of Poland, stands on a hill of limestone, alongside the Cathedral of St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslas.

The hill, settled far back in the mists of time, became the centre of both secular and ecclesiastical power in the early Middle Ages, rising to its prime under the rule of the last of the Piasts and the Jagiello dynasties during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the early sixteenth century, the Gothic castle was transformed into one of the most magnificent Renaissance residences in Europe. The building remains as impressive in its grandeur to this day and the airy lightness of its arcaded courtyard is a constant delight. Both the Renaissance castle and Zygmunt’s Chapel in the cathedral were built by Italians brought to Poland at the behest of Zygmunt the Elder (King Zygmunt I). For several centuries, Wawel was the seat of kings and government, where the Piast, Jagiello and Vasa dynasties held court and from whence the Sejm governed. During times of war, it was more than once ravaged and despoiled. In the early years of the 20th century, retrieved from the hands of the Austrians, it underwent many years of renovation and conservation work, following which it became a museum.

The current Wawel collection is on show to the public in the form of several exhibitions. The treasures on display are myriad. The State Rooms include a valuable collection of Gobelin tapestries and a ceiling featuring woodcarvings of human heads in the Envoys’ Room. Amongst the historical gems to be seen in the Royal Private Apartments are the Gothic and Renaissance portals, while the Crown Treasury and Armoury holds valuables, national artefacts and ancient weaponry. Lovers of oriental art will find superb examples of weapons, fabrics and ceramics exhibited in the Oriental Art exhibition, while the vestiges of the hill’s ancient and primaeval history are revealed to visitors in The Lost Wawel exhibition.

The cathedral is the site of coronations, the burial place of Poland’s rulers and, in the early 19th century, it also acquired the character of national pantheon. The Gothic cathedral itself is encircled by chapels dating back across the centuries, amongst the most well-known of which are the Royal Chapels, where in lie the tombs of the last of the Jagiello and Vasa dynasties. The cathedral interior, rich in architectural detail and appointments, warrants admiration, as does the sumptuous shrine to St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Krakow. Ascending one of the cathedral’s towers to gain a panoramic view over the city, we catch sight of ‚Zygmunt’, the bell whose toll resounds across Krakow at times of great import. Wawel Hill is also a place with its own legends. They tell of a terrible dragon, which made its lair in a cave at the foot of the hill, of Krak, the ruler who defeated him, and of Krak’s daughter, Wanda, who hurled herself to her death in the Vistula River rather than give her hand in marriage to a knight from the West.

What else is worth seeing?
The walls of Wawel offer a view stretching forth over the meandering Vistula engirdling the rocky outcrop of the hill on which the castle stands. Right alongside the viewing terraces lies the entrance to the Dragon’s Lair. Wending your way down spiral steps will bring you the heart of the cave where, as legend has it, the Dragon of Wawel lurked. As for what the monster looked like, this can be imagined by taking a look at his fiery-breathed statue, which stands outside the entrance to the cave from the Vistula Embankment.

The Dragon’s Lair,
Apr. – Jun. and Oct. – Nov.: 10.00 AM – 5.00 PM
Jul. – Aug.: 10.00 AM – 6.00 PM
wszystkie galerie z muzeum
  • Program regionalny
  • województwo maloposkie
  • Unia Europejska
The following Project is cofinanced by the European Union under the Małopolska Regional Operational Programme for the years 2007 – 2013