Wawel Royal Castle is one of the most significant places in Poland in terms of history and culture. Throughout the centuries, it has been the seat of Polish kings and the symbol of the state; in the interwar period it became one of the most important Polish museums.
The Castle museum has the style of a historical residence. Exhibitions with high artistic, historical and patriotic value, illustrate Poland’s history and cultural heritage in restored interiors of the palace from its heyday in the Renaissance and the Baroque eras and in the original Gothic rooms of the Crown Treasury.
Objects associated with Polish rulers and their families – portraits, gifts, war trophies, and works of art, created at the behest of kings – are at the core of the collection. Sigismund Augustus’s tapestries, made in Brussels during the years 1550–1560, are the biggest collection of tapestries (138 items preserved) commissioned by one client. This is not only the museum’s most valuable collections, but on eof the most significant of its kind in the worls. A representative set of royal portraits includes works by Marcin Kober, Daniel Schultz Younger, Jan Tricius and Louis de Silvestre.
A collection of 30 woodcarvings of human heads made in Sebastian Tauerbach’s workshop for the Renaissance ceiling of the Envoys’ Room have been preserved from the original interior decoration of the Castle.
An impressive coronation sword can be “named” Szczerbiec, the only existing insignia from the regalia collection kept in the Royal Treasury until 1795, is the pride of the collection of arms and armour.
Among the objects associated with historical figures, the following should also be mentioned: a Hussar half-suit which used to belong to Stanisław Jabłonowski, hetman’s batons, maces, sabres, splendid horse trappings and saddles, banners, tents, some of which constitute trophies won during the Turkish-Polish wars, and during the Vienna campaign of 1683.
A significant collection of Italian paintings, includes works by Simone Martini and Dosso Dossi. The exhibitions are completed by a rich collection of craftwork, e.g. Italian furniture and Renaissance maiolica, Meissen porcelain, silverware and clocks.
The museum houses the following permanent exhibitions:
The State Rooms, The Royal Private Apartments, The Crown Treasury and Armoury, Oriental Art, The Lost Wawel
as well as some seasonal attractions:
The Dragon’s Den (Smocza Jama) and Sandomierska Tower (Baszta Sandomierska) and Wawel Architecture and Gardens (guided tour).
Several temporary exhibitions are organised every year by the museum.
Branches:
The Pieskowa Skała Castle (Zamek Pieskowa Skała), The Manor House in Stryszów (Dwór w Stryszowie).

Wawel Royal Castle, © all rights reserved
 

Photograph by Stanisław Michta (Wawel Royal Castle), © all rights reserved

Wawel 5
31-001 Kraków
Poland

phone 12 4225155
Fax 12 4215177
page museum

Opening hours

State Rooms: April — October
Monday
closed
Tuesday  — Friday
9.30 — 17.00
Saturday  — Sunday
10.00 — 17.00
November — March
Monday
closed
Tuesday  — Saturday
9.30 — 16.00
Sunday
10.00 — 16.00

Ticket Prices

April — October normal 18 PLN reduced 11 PLN November — March normal 16 PLN reduced 9 PLN

Jagiellonian tapestry “Paradise Bliss” of the “History of the First Parents” series

The Jagiellonian tapestry Paradise Bliss is the first fabric of the History of the First Parents series, commissioned by Sigismund II Augustus and created in Brussels during the years 1550–1560. It depicts events of the beginning of the Biblical Book of Genesis (Gen 2.8.–3.20).

Sculpture “Schoolgirl with a Rose Wreath” of the “Wawel Heads” series by Xawery Dunikowski

The sculpture, one of the most interesting female portraits of Dunikowski, was created as part of the plan to restore the lost heads on the ceiling of the Envoys’ Room (also called the Room under the Heads) on the second floor of the eastern wing of Wawel Royal Castle. Originally, there were 194 heads created by Sebastian Tauerbach and his team before 1540. The ceiling was devastated in the early 19th century, when the castle was turned into the barracks of the Austrian army; only 30 heads were saved by Princess Izabella Czartoryska. It was decided in 1924 that the set was to be reconstructed.

Statue of Augustus III Wettin

The statue is modelled on a portrait painted in 1737 by Louis de Silvestre, the court painter of Augustus III. The sculpture was designed by Johann Joachim Kändler in 1740, on the request of Heinrich, Count von Brühl; the sculpting work was completed in the autumn of 1741 and was carried out in cooperation with Johann Friedrich Eberlein and with the assistance of Johann Gottlieb Ehder.

Chalice

It is the oldest of the dated donations of Casimir the Great for Polish churches. The Roman form of the basic chalice components and some of its motifs (e.g. small rounded arch arcades) coexists here organically with raised Gothic ornamentation, setting this impressive vessel apart from other goldsmith works of the 14th century.

Jagiellonian tapestry “God Conversing with Noah” from the “Story of Noah” series

The textile depicts one of the episodes of the Book of Genesis and is one of eight tapestries of the Sigismund collection forming a series dedicated to the figure of Noah. The Latin inscription in the upper border perfectly desribes the scene taking place below: “Noah walks with God. God reveals to Noah the future flood and commands him to build an ark for salvation”. God warns Noah – the only righteous inhabitant of the earth – that because of mankind’s sins, he intends to flood the earth. He tells Noah to build an ark in order to save Noah’s family. Noah is also to bring a pair of animals of each species into the ark (Genesis 6:13–21).

A model of Queen Jadwiga's sarcophagus from Wawel Cathedral

A bronze replica of the final piece which was created in November 1900. The piece is a model of Queen Jadwiga’s (died 1399) sarcophagus, which was created for Wawel Cathedral by Antoni Madeyski in Rome in the year 1902.

Hussar half-armour

The Hussar half-armour was completed in the beginning of the 17th century, and it survived, in an almost unchanged form, up to the middle of the next century. It harmoniously combines both Western European and Eastern traditions. The presented half-armour consists of a breastplate, a backplate with wings, a bevor, a pair of brassards, and a bascinet. All elements are decorated with brass trim and small stamped circles.

Vessel in the shape of the Polish Eagle

At present, the tableware of the Polish royal court is known to us almost exclusively from archive materials. The majority of preserved single items or their designs come from Augsburg – the most important centre of the European goldsmithery in the 17th and 18th centuries. Among these items, the most outstanding is the state set of John Casimir Vasa.

Board game case, Brettspiel

A unfolding case used for playing backgammon, chess and so-called Polish draughts is an example of the activity of workshops operating in Eger in the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th centuries. Their works enjoyed popularity in Europe at that time, due to their interesting designs and unique method of colourful relief intarsia applied for ornamentation.

Sculpture “Madonna and Child”

The sculpture depicts Madonna in a slight contrapposto pose, with her head tilted to her right arm, holding the Child, facing front, in her right arm. The hollowed out figure was probably intended to be attached to the niche of an altar retable.

Sculpture of Augustus III

A statue of Frederick Augustus II, the Elector of Saxony, and King of Poland, Augustus III, on horseback. It is an example of cabinet sculpture. Similar portrayals of Louis XIV, Napoleon Bonaparte and Marcus Aurelius, often made in bronze, were popular in the 2nd half of the century.

Sculpture “Young Centaur (Smiling Centaur)”

The Centaur sculpture is a copy of one of two marble sculptures found in Rome in 1736, during excavation works in Hadrian's Villa, but substantially reduced in size. At present, the Furietti Centaurs, named after their discoverer, Giuseppe Alessandro Furietti, can be found in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

Sculpture “Saint Anthony the Abbot”

The sculpture comes from the Renaissance retable of the no longer existing altar from Wawel Cathedral dedicated to Saint Anthony the Abbot. The altar was dismantled in 1746. The further fate of the sculpture had remained unknown until 1900, when it became the property of Stanisław Larysz-Niedzielski of Śledziejowice.

Enamelled vase

A large vase with a hemispherical goblet coated with cloisonné enamel. According to its donor, the vase comes from the Summer Palace of Beijing from the era of the Chinese emperors of the Qing dynasty. It was destroyed in 1860, and then again in 1900.

Astronomical monstrance clock

This is the most precious clock in the Wawel collection clocks. It has a unique, impressive form and a complicated mechanism. The clock's case resembles a monstrance, with the clock dial, held by a kneeling mermaid, replacing the nimbus.

Candlestick of the so-called “Swan Set”

The so-called Swan Set, the most famous of porcelain sets, was made in the Royal Manufactory in Meissen during the years 1737–1742, on the commission of Heinrich, Count von Brühl, later the First Minister of Augustus III.

Statuette of a Singing Monkey of the “Monkey Orchestra” series

Monkeys were the subject matter of an iconographic genre called Singerie and so were a popular depiction in the 18th century. The genre was based on the art of Jean Berain which was published in 1711. Scenes of dancing, playing and hunting monkeys wearing fashionable clothes decorated the interiors of royal palaces in Marly, Anet or Chantilly. Realistic looking monkeys were often modelled by Kändler.

Statuette of a Woman in Hunting Clothes

During the mid-18th century it was popular to set the table on the occasion of the most important ceremonies with porcelain statuettes forming rich iconographic stories. Along the entire length of the table, next to the silverware and the china, sat an arrangement of many statuettes in the form of garden paths, streets or castle arcades, placed on a mirror sheet or coloured sand.

Pharmaceutical mortar

A late Renaissance mortar in the shape typical of the Low Countries and with a unique silvery colour. The mortar was made by one of leading casters of Deventer, Gerrit Schimmel, and it is part of a pair. The other is dated from 1688 and signed by the same author. It is at present being exhibited in a museum in Rotterdam.

Armchair

An elegant piece of furniture made from boxwood with an upholstered seat and a high backrest, which is characterised by its richly carved ornamentation. The chair is associated with Andrea Brustolon of Venice, who was one of the most original sculptors and artists of the Venetian Baroque.