Visiting Wawel Castle in Krakow – tickets, guides, opening hours
When people think of Krakow, the first thing that comes to their minds is the Wawel Castle. It is not only the genuine symbol of the city, but also one of the most significant attractions in Poland. Suffice to say that more than 1 million tourists visit this magnificent castle every year, and nearly 20.000 pupils participate in museum lessons!
The Wawel Castle is an amazingly crucial monument for the history of Poland. The hill at which the current castle is located was already inhabited by humans way back during the paleolithic period. The castle itself was constructed in the late 11th and early 12th century. It was later expanded by king Wladyslaw Lokietek, who was the first Polish ruler to be crowned in the Wawel Cathedral.
Despite being reconstructed in renaissance style, the castle didn’t lose its original defensive character. A new palace and the Zygmunt Cathedral were constructed, and the Wawel Castle became one of the most meaningful centers of humanism in Europe. When describing the Wawel castle, it’s difficult not to mention the countless legends that surround it, especially the stories about the Wawel Dragon, which supposedly used to live in a nearby natural cave in medieval times.
Another interesting fact is that the presidential couple – Lech and Maria Kaczynski, who tragically died during the airplane disaster near Smolensk in 2010 are also buried here. The Wawel Castle is located in the Old Town district, not far from the Main Market Square. If you’re travelling by car, you can park it at a parking lot at Na Groblach Square.
The Museum of the Wawel Castle is one of the most significant museums in Poland with irrefutable historical and cultural value. It has many interesting exhibits, such as:
- The Representative Royal Chambers – the exhibit inside the former royal residence includes a collection Italian Renaissance furniture and portraits of the kings of Poland.
- Lost Wawel – this exhibit was introduced to visitors in 1975 and refers the the history of the Wawel Hill. Its main element is the Rotunda of st. Feliks and st Adaukt, – one of the oldest stone buildings in Poland.
- Recovered Wawel – This exhibit is located inside medieval gothic houses. It is the most modern exhibit in the Wael castle, which presents artefacts from between 1795 and moderm times.
Three main exhibits („The Crown Treasury and Armory”, „Lost Wawel” and „Recovered Wawel”) can be visited on Mondays for free. On all the other days, the entrance to the Royal Treasury and Armory costs 25 PLN for a normal ticket or 15 PLN for a reduced ticket.
Most of the exhibits are open from Tuesday to Friday between 930 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
There are some exhibits in the Wawel Castle that you can only visit with a guide. These include „Lost Wawel with st. Geron’s church”, „Open your eyes for Wawel” and „Afterhour Wawel”, among others. Guided visits on these exhibits can be booked based on the individula schedule.
If you’re planning a vacation in Krakow, your trip would not be complete without a visit to the Wawel Castle. Even if you’re not a fan of history, you will undoubtedly be amazed with the majesty of this iconic monument.