We climbed Wawel Hill today, as people have been doing for the last 50,000 years. Only since circa 1000, however, has this climb served to gain the entrance to the castle. Now it’s a museum (1931), sitting in a complex of structures including the Royal Cathedral, atop the modest hill overlooking the Vistula River.
In the 9th century the castle was in its first iteration, a forticiation (castrum) built by the Vislanes. The remains of the castrum are in the northern wing of the present-day Castle. Subsequently the Piast dynasty (965-1034) chose Wawel Hill as a residence. Early in the 11th c. King Bolesław I built the castle that is the forebear of today’s structures.
Kazimierz III Wielki (Casimir III the Great, 1330-70) transformed it into a fortified Gothic castle. After its destruction from fire 1499 Zygmunt I Stary (Sigismund I the Old; 1506–48) ordered a new building in the Renaissance style, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries, completed 30 years later, thus creating the basis for what we have today.
Poland lost its independence in 1795, the castle coming under Austrian control. The Austrians converted some portions of the site to military hospital use, and some destroyed buildings. Eventually the castle because a residence of Emperor Franz Josef I, and occupied by the Austrians until 1911.
The Nazi governor resided in the castle, but not before securing some of the treasures and in some cases moved to Canada.
Today there are ten collections, including important Italian Renaissance paintings, prints, sculptures and textiles, including the Sigismund II Augustustapestry collection, gold, Oriental art including Ottoman tents, armor, ceramics, Meissen porcelain, as well as period furniture. There are specialized conservation studios, making it a significant restoration center.
2 thoughts on “Wawel Castle in Krakow- nearly 1000 years in the making”
I truly appreciate all of the photos, commentary and history of all the places that you have been visiting just in case I never get a chance to go. I have my property and my three businesses up for sale in Nyack and plan on doing a bit of traveling myself after I sort out my home and go to a destination spa for a few weeks Just to unwind from a life of long hard work. Now I’ll be able to reap the benefits. Maybe I’ll meet up with you and Peg at some point. I have a friend that lives in Italy I’d like to visit and I want to go to the British Isles. England Ireland Scotland and Wales and look up some of my relatives. My youngest daughter Mollie seriously involved with an English lad she met at a wedding in Mexico last year. I’d like to go and meet his family to make sure he’s worthy of my daughter. It’s a sellers market right now and I am taking advantage of being at the height of it. I hope all is well with you and Peg. As I can read and say all your art work I do note that you are developing more and more as time goes on. Art is something that gets into your blood under your skin and becomes a part of you. I’m glad to see you there. Marianne
Would certainly love to see you so stay in touch. Let’s fling some paint around! Hope all goes well with the sales and the future spouse inspections — given it’s your daughter I’m confident it will work out just fine! Glad you are enjoying the art and stories.