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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Exploring Wawel Castle - Krakow

Exploring Wawel Castle in Krakow's old town centre

In 2017 I headed off for my first visit to Poland with my best friend Ant to the historic city of Krakow. I had looked at visiting Krakow for many years and the history of the city had always attracted me. During our time here we stayed at the delightful Hotel Mikolaj, tried our hand at Axe Throwing and visited the sobering remains of Auschwitz and Birkenau. We also visited the magnificent Wawel Castle and grounds which proved to be a true highlight of out trip.

Front turret of Wawel Castle as seen from below Memorial Plaques on the castle walls

Wawel Castle was built between the 13th and 14th centuries and served as the residence of King Casimir III the Great. The complex is now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the top sites in the historic old town centre. Most people will walk to Wawel Castle on foot as did we - it was only 10-15 minutes from the Market Square and the streets and parks en-route were pleasant and interesting to walk through. The castle itself features some amazing architecture and also fantastic views of Krakow. Furthermore it has several interesting attractions including the Cathedral, the Treasury and Armoury and the State Rooms.

Wawel Castle and the majestic Cathedral Portcullis and main entrance to Wawel Castle

Entry to the grounds of Wawel Castle and the cathedral is free, but you need to buy a ticket to enter the Treasury, Armoury and State Rooms. The ticket office is on the right hand side of the main entrance in a small kiosk - we purchased a joint ticket for the Treasury and Stateroom which was 32 PLN each.

Wawel Castle old ruins covered in flowers

The Grounds - Even if you don't want to pay to enter the attractions, the grounds of the castle are beautiful and great to walk through. We enjoyed looking at the old ruins of the castle in the centre of the grounds - these were covered with gorgeous multi-coloured flowers. To the rear of the castle, the immense bastion walls provide stunning views of the city and down to the Vistula River. If you want a snack or a drink there is also several cafes in the grounds with outdoor seating.

Lookout point from the castle Bastions across to the Vistula River

Wawel Cathedral - The cathedral is a gorgeous structure located near the front entrance of the castle. Constructed in the 11th century, the exterior features a myriad of different basilicas, domes and towers that created a "jumbled" look. Inside there is some amazing decoration, monuments of important Polish figures and even previous Polish kings. If you want to go up the bell tower you have to buy a separate ticket - we missed out on this so be prepared! I found the architecture and interior design of the cathedral fascinating and the amount of history and relics stored here is quite astounding.

The many towers and domes of Wawel Cathedral

Crown Treasury and Armoury - This was by far the most interesting part of the castle for myself and Ant - we both love weapons and military memorabilia so the treasury and armoury were a treat. Contained within these rooms is a vast collection of weaponry and armour from Poland's military past and from surrounding countries such as Germany and Hungary. There is a mind-boggling amount of swords, spears, hatchets, pikes, pistols, rifles and even a dungeon full of immense bronze cannons. The displays were fantastically presented and the rooms were kept in immaculate condition. For anyone interested in military history, the treasury and armour are an absolute must!

Castle courtyard and entrance to the staterooms and armoury

State Rooms - We also found the staterooms hugely interesting - this selection of rooms has been restored and maintained to their original state. Each room contains some superb decoration and a myriad of furniture and artefacts from the early time periods of the castle. Rooms of note include the Tournament Hall which features wall paintings showcasing battles and military tournaments, the lavishly decorated bird room, and the tapestry room that features a series of epic tapestries detailing the trials and tribulations of the biblical character Noah. The magnificence of the rooms is undeniable and we really got a feel for the power and wealth that the Kings and Queens of this castle were privy too.

Scale model of Wawel Castle

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the castle - we felt it was a worthwhile attraction and enabled us to learn more about the history of Krakow and see some amazing architecture and artefacts. When visiting this amazing city, make sure you see the mighty castle and all its hidden treasures!

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