Wawel Castle in Poland
Wawel is a beautiful hill in the centre of Kraków upon the Vistula River with a complex of impressive historical monuments of unique historical and artistic values. This extraordinary sanctuary determines the Poles’ identity, is their national and cultural symbol. Wawel used to be the seat of Polish rulers, their necropolis and place where the Polish history took shape.
Wawel castle used to be the royal residence. Built at the behest of King Casimir III the Great. For centuries the residence of the kings of Poland and the symbol of Polish statehood.
Today Wawel Hill is a monument of the national past, a historical residence comprised of several museum exhibitions located in the palace building and the old royal kitchens.
The Castle is now one of the country's premier art museums, and art concervation center . It consists of a number of structures situated around the Italian-style courtyard. The castle, being one of the largest in Poland, represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance,barocc. The Wawel castle and the Wawel hill constitute the most historically and culturally significant site in the country. Since 1978 is declared an UNESCO world Heritage Site as part of the historic Center of Kraków.
The Cathedral Museum is a separate unit presenting items related to the history of the chapter, historical examples of gold smithery and weaving, paintings and sculptures.
On the Sigismund Tower the four great bells of Wawel Cathedral hang next to the Sigismund bell. The bell weighs almost 13 tonnes and requires 12 bell-ringers to swing it. It tolls on special occasions, mostly religious and national holidays, and is regarded as one of the greatest symbols of Poland.
Courtyard in Wawel Royal Castle
The Wawel Dragon Statue - a symbol of Krakow
In ancient times, the Wawel Dragon terrorised King Krak’s city. The beast required ransoms of cattle, while other sources insist that it only devoured virgins.The Wawel Dragon was a beast which lived in a den under Wawel Hill and terrorised all the inhabitants of King Krak’s town. They had to feed to the monster by giving him offerings of cattle, while other tales speak of that hellspawn eating nothing but virgins. No knight could vanquish the monster, until a young shoemaker Skuba outsmarted the Dragon. He stuffed a ram’s hide with sulphur and pitch, and put the doctored ram in front of the Dragon’s Den. The monster caught the bait and devoured the ram. Immediately, he felt a bad pain and burning in the throat. To quench his thirst, the Dragon started to drink from the Vistula River. However, as water cannot extinguish burning sulphur, the gases produced by the fires inside him made the beast explode. All the townsfolk revelled in the news and the heroic shoemaker was properly rewarded. To commemorate the vanquishing of the Dragon, Bronisław Chromy designed a sculpture of the beast which now stands by the river at the foot of Wawel, near the Dragon's Den.