Historical & Cultural Sites – Wawel Royal Castle and Wawel Hill
Updated 21 August 2022
Wawel Royal Castle and the limestone Wawel Hill are extremely important historical and cultural sites containing one of the most important collection of buildings in Poland.
Wawel was once the seat of Polish rulers, the residence of kings and the focal point of many Polish historical events. The hill is a symbol of the Polish nation and has witnessed some of the greatest moments in Polish history. Many Polish kings have been laid to rest below Wawel Cathedral.
Located south of the old town and next to the Vistula River, Wawel Hill showcases an incredible assortment of architectural delights including Renaissance, Gothic and Romanesque designs. Wawel Royal Castle and the Cathedral are must-see attractions and a walk around the castle courtyards and open spaces are highly recommended.
Today, Wawel Royal Castle is home to a superb art museum, which is well-known throughout Europe and the World because of its collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, the Sigismund II Augustus tapestry collection, sculptures, ceramics, period furniture and textiles among others.
The museum consists of five individual and separate sections: Crown Treasury and Armoury, State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments, Lost Wawel and the Exhibition of Oriental Art.
Wawel Hill has a long history, which can be traced back to the year 1000 when the first cathedral on Wawel Hill was built. Since then, Wawel has experienced many different timelines ranging from its Golden era from the 14th to the 16th centuries to the start of its decline as a centre of importance in 1609; when the then King moved his court to Warsaw.
Wawel Royal Castle was the cultural and political heart of Poland during the 16th century and today, it stands as a potent symbol and reminder of the Polish national identity. Visitors to Wawel Royal Castle today will see a 16th century Renaissance palace; however, before this, it was a formidable Gothic castle; which was burned down in 1499
Over the years, the castle has been repeatedly sacked and vandalised. Extensive restoration work has been carried out since and many of the castle’s external structures and interior decorations have been recovered.