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 20 PLN reduced 12 PLN November — March normal 18 PLN reduced 10 PLN

Miniature of the sarcophagus of Casimir IV the Jagiellonian from the Holy Cross Chapel of Wawel Cathedral

A factory for the production of artistic metal castings was established in Warsaw, in the Kingdom of Poland, by Karol Fryderyk Minter. Minter was of Prussian descent and was educated in Berlin and Copenhagen. The factory became famous for its ornamental works (which were predominantly patriotic in design) which were produced during the years 1845–1879. One series produced comprised a set of twenty-one memorials of Polish rulers, including sixteen miniaturized copies of royal and princely tombs, with nine of these being Wawel royal tombs.

Mace

A mace, that is a blunt weapon consisting of a handle and a head created of vertically placed flangs (feathers), was commonly used in the Polish army of the 17th and 18th centuries, as an insignia indicating the rank of rittmeister or colonel. According to tradition, the presented mace was owned by Stefan Czarniecki, the Castellan of Kiev, later the Field Crown Hetman.

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.

Jagiellonian tapestry “Stork and Rabbits”

Portrayals of animals (both European and exotic) in verdures were modelled on engravings from zoological atlases, which began to appear around the mid-16th century. Artists tried to depict specimens of a given species as accurately as possible, appending written descriptions to their prints. Such prints were very popular at that time, and cartoon painters used them to draw models for the animals that appear in the Wawel tapestries.

Jagiellonian tapestry “Dragon Fighting with a Panther”

Imaginary animals are not predominant in tapestry presentations but sometimes appear there. Their presence usually has a symbolic meaning. In the tapestry Dragon Fighting with a Panther, this is derived from Physiologus, which is an ancient treatise on animals containing, aside from their description, an allegorical interpretation of animals, plants and minerals. According to it, the panther is loved by all animals, with the exception of the dragon. Such a presentation was interpreted as an allegory of Christ's struggle against Satan. Here, the dragon symbolises the forces of evil, and the panther the forces of good.

Over Door Tapestry with the Arms of Lithuania on landscape background with Animals ‒ a Spotted Hyena and a Monkey

This textile was designed to be hung over a door, hence its shape – a rectangle topped with an arc. In its centre, there is the coat of arms of Lithuania – the Charging Knight, turned to the left. The arms are surmounted by the grand ducal cap and suspended on floral garlands. Exotic animals are presented on either side of the coat of arms: on the left, a small predator prowls around, while on the right, a sits monkey that seems to be staring at the viewer. In the background of the tapestry, an immature forest can be seen.

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).

Tapestry Bearing the Arms of Poland and Lithuania and the figure of Ceres

The tapestry is part of a group of twelve textiles with the coats of arms of Poland and Lithuania against a background of ornamentation called Netherlandish grotesque. It belongs to a subgroup in which the coats of arms of both parts of the Commonwealth are entrusted to the care of the Roman goddess Ceres – a patron of peace, abundance and prosperity. The slender female figure in robes, modelled on clothing of ancient statues, holds a sickle and cornucopia, and stands in the middle on a marble podium. The sickle in her hand and a wreath of grain ears on her head bring associations with summer – the season of harvest, while the cornucopia symbolises prosperity.

Tapestry with the Monogram of Sigismund Augustus in Medallion

A tapestry of the same size and the same function as the tapestry with the Monogram of Sigismund Augustus in Cartouche. It belongs to a group of three monogram grotesques with the initials SA inscribed within an oval medallion. In the middle of the composition, there is a blue convex medallion with the entwined initials SA under a closed crown, placed against a background of a drapery supported by two angels sitting on crosspieces of a metal frame (a motif typical of Netherlandish grotesque).

Sabre with a sheath

The blade, regarded as the work of the Armenians of Lviv, may be connected with the reign of John III Sobieski. Its antique-like sheath must have been made much later, as the Rococo ornament indicates. This weapon of highly decorative character is difficult to categorize unambiguously.

Sculpture “King David”?

The sculpture depicts the figure of a king standing in a contrapposto pose, turned slightly right. The sculpture is a copy (with some modifications) of the Saint Sigismund's statue, made in marble, which is placed in the right niche of the southern wall of the Sigismund's Chapel (the so-called throne wall).

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 “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.

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.

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 “Old 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.

Gorget

The gorget, deriving from a knight's armour bevor, was used in Poland in the 18th century, mostly by members of the Bar Confederation (1768–1772). Decorated with effigies of Madonna and saints, as well as religious scenes, the gorget served as a spiritual buckler.

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.

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.

A tombstone with the image of a “tree of life” from the double-apse rotunda – the so-called “church B” in Wawel

This tombstone consists of two elements and was found during excavation works carried out under the guidance of Stanisław Kozieł and Mieczysław Fraś in the area of the southern wing of building 5 of Wawel in the years 1966–75. The tombstone used to cover a tomb located in the area of the western apse of the double-apse rotunda relics, called church B” by the researchers.