Wawel Hill

Wawel is the name of a lime hillock situated on the left bank of the Vistula in Cracow. This is a symbolic place of great significance for all Polish people as the Royal Castle and the Cathedral are situated on the Hill. The Royal Cathedral on the Wawel Hill is considered the most important church in Poland - it was the place for Royal coronations and the burial site for Polish kings. It is the most famous necropolis in Poland as not only kings but also many distinguished Poles are interred here.

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Wawel Castle

The Wawel Castle is a fine example of Renaissance architecture. It was, in fact, the first Renaissance castle built in Poland. The castle was designed by a Florentine architect, Bartholomeo Berecci in the first half of the 16th century, who was commissioned by the king Sigismund I of the Jagiellonian dynasty. Its stately halls and exquisite chambers are filled with priceless art, best period furniture and rare ancient objects. The collection of the 16th-century monumental Flemish tapestries is matchless.

 

The exhibitions in the Castle include:

  • State Rooms
  • Royal Private Apartments
  • Treasury and Armoury
  • Archaeological exhibition "The Lost Wawel"
  • Exhibition "Oriental Art"

The Royal Cathedral

The Royal Cathedral on the Wawel Hill is Poland's national sanctuary with a 1000-year-old history. It was the coronation site of Polish monarchs. It is also the burial ground of most Polish royalty as well as the greatest national heroes, poets and saints, which makes it the most important necropolis in Poland.

 

Inside there are a number of excellent sarcophaguses of Polish Kings, dating from the 14th to 20th century. The center of the nave is occupied by the mausoleum of St. Stanislaw, Poland's main patron saint, the 11th-century Cracow bishop murdered by King Boleslav II. The cathedral is surrounded by eighteen chapels, full of art treasures. Among them the 16th century Sigismund Chapel is considered one of the most notable pieces of architecture in Cracow and perhaps "the purest example of Renaissance architecture outside Italy." It was built by Bartolommeo Berrecci, a Florentine architect, who also designed the Wawel castle. The Cathedral is also connected to the Pope John Paul II, who was the archbishop of Cracow  between 1964 and 1978.

Dragon's Den

The Dragon's Den, together with the sculpture of the fire-breathing Dragon standing at its exit, is one of the most-loved attractions of the city. Situated at the foot of the Wawel Hill, this cave is connected to the best known legend in Cracow - the legend about the Wawel Dragon.

The cave is a typical limestone formation characteristic to Southern Poland - but the most famous one. You can enter it at the top of the Hill and the passage will lead you through the den to the bank of the Vistula River. What better way to end a sightseeing tour of the Wawel Hill?