Wawel Royal Castle
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The most impressive aspect of the Royal Castle is the towering Renaissance courtyard, and this is free to all comers. However, the Royal and State apartments require individual entrance fees. Don't expect to be bowled over and you might be pleasantly surprised. A great deal of Poland's cultural heritage was looted over the centuries, and the castle itself was an Austrian army barracks for most of the nineteenth century. Even before that time, it was the magnates, not the kings, who had the most splendid residences (Kings were elected by the nobility for several centuries).That said, there are some marvellous treasures here, not least a wonderful set of Flemish tapestries commissioned by King Zygmunt August (r.1548-1572), and some fine portraits besides. (Click on the Wawel website for news of opening times).
Editor & Krakow Local
I thought it was great and can't agree there was 'nothing inside'. There was a good collection of art including Rubens and a really fantastic roman bust from the 1st century.
I had no problem with being kept an eye on. That is presumably why they are there.
Visited the castle as it felt like a "must-do" and looked really impressive. However, the experience was a little sterile! Only visited the State Rooms. First surprise were the plastic shoe covers - felt like we were entering a crime scene! Might as well have been actually - we felt like we being treated like potential criminals by the staff. First there was a whole battalion of them and kept us under constant surveillance in each room as if we were going to steal some state secret. The only time they didn't look was when I looked back, (nicely though!) I put this down to a hang-over from the old Communist, Warsaw Pact days - in fact, most of them looked old and ugly enough to have been party members, (nice to see what they're doing nowadays). Seriously though, it wasn't pleasant and the only one that did smile back was a young woman. I know I read that the castle is central to the Polish people and that their history has been a turbulent one with some very dark periods - but really, we're not there to trash the place! I also agree with other reviewers comments on the information boards - boring and un-informative. the best part of the castle visit was being bowed to by two giggly Japanese girls who took our picture for us! Come on Cracow this attraction could be so much more.
The outside of the castle/catherdal was impressive and very photogenic. You queue up and pay for every seperate exhibit. The inside was dark and had some interesting furniture and art pieces. However, the descriptions were basic and dry. There was nothing to tell you about the history or stories behind the rooms or pieces which would greatly embellish the experience. Also, alot of the rooms appeared to be locked off and each room had bored looking attendants sitting on chairs. I would recommend a guide to add interest. Overall, it was rather disapointing and to pay seperately for each exhibit is a bit much.
Sorry but the reviews are not, in my mind, considered to be a correct or honest review. George (our guides English name) was very good and he translated the history of the castle which made the visit a lot more interesting. If you want a room full of furniture I suggest you go to Ikea. I would normally want to spend 3 hours in a pub but on this occassion I am very glad I gave the pub a miss. Cheers to Wawel Royal Castle
HORRIBLE ! scandal what is going on over there,
is beauty full arch and nothing inside !exhibition is poor and i waited for tickets houres! Krakow is great city, for sure u can found better staff to look after your castle.
Quite accurate description - its not exactly a castle in the Windsor mould (or Edinburgh for that matter) - not a lot of cannons for kids to crawl over. The rooms are not exactly stuffed with beautiful furniture (mot of it was looted I understand), but it has its moments. Think of it as a sort of cross between a castle and a cathedral and you'll be close. The legends, of course, are great - a dragon, no less!