Central Europe: Poland - Wawel Hill: Polish Royal Ground in Krakow

By Cubie - January 15, 2015

Wawel Hill is the residence of Poland's monarchs in the Royal Castle. The royals were both crowned and buried in the Wawel Cathedral (Katedra Wawelska). This current cathedral, is the third of the constructed after both the first and second one were destroyed. The initial structure is a Gothic structure, the chapels of different styles were built around later.

Wawel Cathedral is very recognisable as the structure looks like a mix and match from different generation and the prominent gold dome. Somehow it doesn't look funny, and I actually think it is a beautiful cathedral. The original structure of this cathedral is a simple Romanesque church in the 12th century. The white base  of the nearest tower is the original. The tower with the gold dome is the Sigismund's Chapel and it was made with 80 pounds of gold and recognised as the finest Renaissance chapel north of the Alps. It's tower next to it was built 150 years later, a copy of Sigismund's Chapel but with a different colour and missing the signature gold dome. Sigismund the Old, is one of the Jagiellonian Kings of Poland who was responsible for Krakow's Renaissance renovation in the 16th century.

There were several museum and exhibition in the Wawel Castle. Ticket prices vary depending on which room or exhibit of your choice. When we asked our friendly reception staff at the hostel, they spoke of the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci but unsure as to what the animal was called in English, so the conversation was something like, "There's a famous painting, the one a lady holding an animal...."

Wawel Castle from outside the wall
The painting on exhibit is Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine". We didn't get the tickets to see this painting, instead we paid entrance fee of 21zł for Royal State Rooms (Komnaty Krolewskie). Photography was prohibited so no  photos taken. Deposit of backpacks or larger bags are compulsory, from memory it was free of charge. For fun, we also paid entrance fee to visit the Dragon's Den (Smocza Jama) at 3zł. Just because... errrr, Dragon's Den sounds cool, no? :P

Entrance to the Dragon's Den

Once you exit the den, a dragon would greet you at the other end.

Why, you ask? That's because of the Legend of the Wawel Dragon.

Once upon a time, there was a terrible fire-belching dragon lived in a cave at the bottom of Wawel Hill. The dragon terrorized the farmers and ate their sheep. The king wanted this dragon to be destroyed and promised his daughter's hand to whoever killed the dragon. Many tried but unsuccessful.

One day, a young and handsome but poor (sounds like the making of some Hindi movie) shoemaker's apprentice named Krak tried his luck despite he has no armour, horse or sword.

Krak bought a dead sheep from the butcher and some sulphur from a miner. He stuffed the sulphur inside the sheep, put the sheep by the dragon's cave and waited for the dragon to come out.

This tricked the greedy dragon to come out from his cave. He ate the sheep and the sulphur caught fire in the dragon's stomach. To quench the fire on his stomach, the dragon drank a lot of water and this prevented him from breathing fire, he only breathed out steam. He was so swollen, exploded and died.

Krak married the princess and succeeded the King after he passed away. Krak built a castle on top of Wawel Hill and it was where the Kings of Poland lived for hundreds of years. A city was built around the hill and this is Krakow, after their king.

So there you have it, Wawel Hill - symbol of Polish royalty and independence.

Side note: Now addicted to choc chip cookies too >.<"

  • Share:

You Might Also Like