4 star rating: Recommended 17 Reviews

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  • Address: Wawel 5
  • Hours: 6 am- 5 pm

Krakow ATTRACTIONS See all

Wawel Royal Castle (Zamek Wawelski)

The political and cultural centre of Poland until the end of the 16th century, Wawel Royal Castle, also known as Zamek Wawelski is, like Wawel Cathedral, the very symbol of Poland's national identity. The original, rather small residence of the Zamek Wawelski was built in the early 11th century by King Bolesław Chrobry beside t he chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary (known as the Rotunda of SS Felix and Adauctus). King Kazimierz Wielki turned it into a formidable Gothic castle, but when it burned down in 1499, King Zygmunt Stary commissioned a new residence. Within 30 years a splendid Renaissance palace, designed by Italian architects, was in place. Despite further extensions and alterations, the 3-store Renaissance structure, complete with a courtyard arcaded on three sides, has been preserved to this day.

Repeatedly sacked and vandalized by the Swedish and Prussian armies, the castle was occupied after the Third Partition by the Austrians, who intended to make Wawel a citadel. Their plan included turning the castle into barracks, and the cathedral into a garrison church, moving the royal tombs elsewhere. They never got that far but they did turn the royal kitchen and coach house into a military hospital and razed two churches standing at the outer courtyard to make room for a parade ground. They also enveloped the whole hill with a new ring of massive brick walls, largely ruining the original Gothic fortifications. The castle was recovered by Poles after WWI and the restoration began immediately and continued up until the outbreak of WWII. The work was resumed after the war and has been able to recover a good deal of the castle's earlier external form and its interior decoration.

Practical Info

Wavel Royal Castle is on Wawel Hill, a short walk from the Old Town or you can catch tram number 10. Make sure you validate your ticket on the tram - plain clothes inspectors are vigilant in Krakow. The castle is now a museum containing 5 separate sections, each requiring a different ticket that is valid for a specific time. There's a limited daily quota of tickets for some parts, so arrive early if you want to see everything or phone ahead to reserve. You will need a ticket even on 'free' days (Mondays in summer). 

Tours & Tickets

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Private Tour: Krakow City Highlights Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 15 Reviews

See the sights of Krakow with a private guide at your side! This comprehensive 3.5-hour sightseeing tour can be done by foot or minivan and offers a flexible ...  Read more

Location: Krakow, Poland
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $18.51

Small-Group Segway City Tour in Krakow

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 2 Reviews

Looking for a fun, personalized experience? Glide the Segway through quiet streets of the vibrant Old town of Krakow. Well trained local guides will make sure ...  Read more

Location: Kraków, Poland
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $46.28

Krakow in One Day Sightseeing Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 99 Reviews

For over a thousand years, Krakow has been the center of science, culture and art in Poland. Come and see for yourself upon boarding the Krakow City ...  Read more

Location: Krakow, Poland
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $44.95

Private Tour: Royal Krakow Walking Tour including Visit to Wawel Castle

Roll back the centuries to discover Krakow during the Middle Ages, when it served as Poland’s capital. As you explore with a private guide, learn about the ...  Read more

Location: Krakow, Poland
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $41.31

Krakow Sightseeing Tour by Minibus

Krakow is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Central Europe, chosen as the European City of Culture 2000. The Old Town of Krakow was entered on the ...  Read more

Location: Kraków, Poland
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $81.00

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