Wawel Royal Castle
Wawel Royal Castle - Zamek Królewski na Wawelu. Built in 1502-1536 for Zygmunt I.
Historic Centre of Kraków. UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed in 1978.
"The Schloss (Zamek Królewski), on the broad Wawel hill at the S.W. end of the old town, was founded in the 14th cent, by Ladislaus Lokietek, and restored by Casimir the Great and Sigismund I (after 1500), but later conflagrations and other injuries have left only a number of large separate buildings, dating chiefly from the time of Sigismund I and his son Sigismund Augustus, and converted in 1846 into a barrack and hospital".--Baedeker 1900. DSC_0401p1
Monday morning would be a full day of sightseeing in and around Krakow, including Wawel Castle and the Old Town. Unlike other Polish cities, Krakow's buildings and monuments were not destroyed during World War II. The Germans want to make it the administrative center for occupied Poland and a showcase "German" city. (It had been under Austrian occupation from 1795 to 1918.)
The coach dropped us off outside Planty Park. Planty is a greenbelt around the Old Town. It follows the trace of the medieval city walls. Walking though t to reach Wawel Castle reminded me very much of Łazienki Park in Warsaw. There were monuments and sculptures here, too. I like these peaceful green spaces. At the foot of the park, we came out onto Ulica Podzamcze, with the steps to the castle hill across the street.
The stairway to the castle rose gently up from the street. The wall was decorated with commemorative bricks identifying individuals and organizations that have donated funds for the renovation and upkeep of the castle since 1916. All along the way the clock tower of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslas is overhead. At the top of the steps
Planty Ogród - Planty Park in Krakow. DSC_0404
is the Monument to Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817). Americans know Kościuszko as a hero of the American Revolution. But he also led an uprising in 1794 supporting Polish independence against Prussia and Russia. The Heraldic Gate (Brama Herbowa
) is the entrance to the castle grounds.
The Cathedral dominates the outer courtyard. Formally known as the Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslas (Bazylika archikatedralna św. Stanisława i św. Wacława
) Wawel Cathedral is the third on the site. Construction of the present cathedral began in the mid-14th century. It's been sacked, rebuilt and redesigned a number of times over the centuries since then. The cathedral was the royal church and Polish monarchs were crowned here and buried here. It is a national cathedral as Polish notables and statesmen are also buried here. It is somewhat difficult to gain a perspective of the exterior of the church as a whole. The domed twin side chapels of Sigismund and Vasa stand out. Sigismund Chapel (Kaplica Zygmuntowska),
notable for its golden dome, is the royal funerary chapel of the Polish Jagiellonian Dynasty of the 14th to 16th centuries. It is named for Sigismund I and Sigismund II, the last two Jagiellonian kings of
Sowy = Owls, sculpture by Bronislaw Chromy (1961) in Planty Park. Chromy is known for his owls. DSC_0406
Poland. Vasa Chapel (Kaplica Wazów
) reminds one of the Swedish House of Vasa and the Polish-Swedish dynastic connection of the 16th and 17th centuries.
From the outer courtyard, the Bartholomew Berrecci Gate (Brama Bartłomieja Berrecciego
) leads to the inner courtyard and the royal residences. The 16th century gatehouse is named for its builder. Inside is the open arcaded Renaissance courtyard, dating to 1501-1536. It was designed by Italian architects, including Bartholomew Berrecci, noted above, but has been rebuilt and reworked many times.
Returning to the outer courtyard, we found a Polish color guard presenting the colors. I did not find out what the ceremony was for, but it was an appropriate touch.
The group was to walk from the castle back to the main square in Old Town. Along the way several notable sights were encountered. On the cobblestone street Kanonicza is the Deanery (Dom Dziekański
). Karol Wojtyła, later Pope John Paul II, lived here in 1958-1963. Crossing over to Grodzka, there were several churches of note. St. Andrew's Church, a Romanesque stone church of the 11th century. Next door, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, a Baroque Jesuit church.
Our walk brought us to
Wyższe Seminarium Duchowne Archidiecezji Krakowskiej - Metropolitan Seminary of the Archdiocese of Kraków. Built in 1902. Ulica Podzamcze 8. DSC_0407
Ulitza Franciszkańska, a main street just outside the old town center. The busy street was shared by trams and the popular horse drawn-carriages of Krakow. Here we visited the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The present church dates to the 15th century and has a Polish Gothic façade similar to that of St. John's Archcathedral in Warsaw. Its stained glass windows were designed by Stanisław Wyspiański and installed in 1899-1904.
A walk through a small park brought us to the urban campus of the Jagellonian University. The university was founded in 1400 by King Vladislaus Jagiełło. We had the opportunity to walk through some of the academic buildings, which are park of the Krakow UNESCO World Heritage site. Just a block over from the university was the Great Market Square. This was the end of our walking tour and now we had free time to explore the square. The dominant building is the central Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). It has been rebuilt many times since the 14th century. Renovations of 1875-1879 made it a market hall, which it remains today. Vendor stalls continue to line the trading halll today, albeit jewelry, souvenirs, handicraft is what is sold, principally aimed
Wawel Cathedral Clock Tower
Katedra Wawelska - Wawel Cathedral. Wieża zegarowa - Clock Tower. The Polish national cathedral and former coronation site of Polish monarchs. Construction of the current cathedral began in the 14th century. (Built 1320-1342.) The tower was completed in 1522. A clock was installed in 1521, the present one in 1602
Historic Centre of Kraków. UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed in 1978. DSC_0405
at visitors. On the upper floor is an art gallery of 19th century Polish painting. Activity is all around the square, There is an abundance of restaurants and shops. Horse-drawn carriage rides depart from the square. Vendors of Obwarzanek Krakowski,
Krakow style bagels, are about. Also here is St. Mary's Church (Kościół Mariacki
). On the hour, a trumpet signal—called the Hejnał mariacki
—is played from the top of the taller of the church's two towers. The tower of the former city hall is interesting. You think it is a complete historical building, but just the tower remains.
In the afternoon I went on the tour to the Wieliczka Salt Mines out from Krakow. More in the next blog entry.
In the evening, after a very long but rewarding day in and around Krakow we simply had a relaxing dinner at the hotel.
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