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 25 PLN reduced 15 PLN November — March normal 20 PLN reduced 12 PLN

Wheellock pistol

The exhibit is a representative example of a luxurious, richly decorated firearm. An early type of pistol called the puffer, characterised by the presence of a massive ball at the end of the butt.

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.

Under-Window Tapestry with Music-Making Figures

On the central axis of the tapestry, there is a large vase with fruit and flowers entwined with snakes, which support it. On either side of the vase, a putto is cradled in the framework of decorative strips. Each is props himself up with one hand on the frame and the other on the body of a snakes. In the corners of the tapestry, two musicians are depicted – an older bearded man playing the hurdy-gurdy and a young blonde woman holding a drum.

Under Window Tapestry with the figures playing the shells

It belongs to a series of fourteen tapestries designed to be hung under window sills. Most of them were damaged. After they had been taken to Russia in 1795, they were cut and sewn together to form semi-circular over-window or over-door tapestries. Upon their recovery from the Soviet Union in 1922, they were unstitched and put back together to reconstruct their original appearance. In the middle of the horizontal frieze, there is a metal vase supported on lion paws, filled with fruit and leaves. A huge eggplant and zucchini spill out of the vase. On both its sides, on a frame linking all the elements, two putti are perched, one of them with a bow and a quiver.

Under Window Tapestry with Monkeys

The tapestry belongs to the same series of tapestries designed to be hung under window sills as the Under Window Tapestry with the figures playing the shells. Two textiles with monkey scenes have been preserved from the total of fourteen tapestries of this group. All the small tapestries were sewn on to over-window and over-door tapestries in Russia (to where they had been taken away in 1795). The artificially assembled elements were unstitched after this part of the collection had been repossessed in 1922. The tapestry with inv. no. 128 was the one which had been damaged to the relatively smallest extent; it was cut mainly at the side edges. Quite a big part of a rectangular shape is missing on the left side.

Tower table clock

The diverse form and rich ornamentation of the clock place it among the best works of the Augsburg watchmakers of the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Tile table clock

For many years, it was believed to be the oldest of the Polish table clocks, called tile clocks for their flat cases. However, the engraved date An 1607 should be regarded as a later addition, contrary to the dates of the life and activity of Simon Ginter, who signed the clock.

Teapot with lid

This early form of the teapot, the design of which is ascribed to Johann Jakob Irminger, was amended by a painted decoration outside the factory more than twenty years after the vessel had been finished. The linear, graphical method of painting was ascribed to Christian Daniel Buschow, who operated in Bayreuth.

Tea container

Along with the growing popularisation of overseas beverages such as coffee, tea and chocolate, European manufactories also designed vessels used to hold them. At the beginning, they were modelled on familiar Chinese or Japanese forms, but then, gradually, the models took on new shapes unknown to the East.

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).

Tapestry with the Monogram of Sigismund Augustus in Cartouche

This tapestry of a group of monogram grotesques with the initials of King Sigismund II Augustus placed under a crown in a decorative cartouche belongs to a series of seven drapes (door curtains). In four of them, the cartouche is accompanied by satyrs playing instruments while the other three depict nymphs sitting on thrones. The composition is a representative example of ornamentation called Netherlandish grotesque. It was modelled on a print of ca. 1546 by Cornelis Bos, one of the founders and pioneers of this type of decoration. The painted design for the tapestry was modified, but the set of motifs and the general outline remained unchanged.

Tapestry with the Monogram of Sigismund Augustus and a Terrestrial Globe

The grotesque tapestry with a monogram of King Sigismund Augustus (SA – Sigismundus Augustus) and a globe is part of a series of decorative textiles in which the royal monogram plays the major role. Before our eyes, an extravaganza unfolds of ancient gods, birds, animals, fruit and flower garlands. On the axis of the composition is placed an oval shield with the monogram of the king, covered with a closed crown. A richly decorated frame is surrounded by a wreath of fruit. Aside from apples, grapes and lemons, there is also a pineapple, brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus.

Tapestry with the Arms of Poland and Lithuania and the Figure of Victory

The tapestry depicts Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory. At her bare feet lies a pile of weapons; she is flanked by two coats of arms: of Poland and of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. On her right are the arms of the Kingdom Poland – the Eagle with the monogram of Sigismund II Augustus, the last king of the Jagiellonian dynasty – surmounted by a closed crown. The arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – the Charging Knight surmounted by the Grand Ducal cap – are on her left. The winged goddess is attired in a breastplate. In one hand, she holds a laurel wreath, in the other a broken spear. The olive branches behind her symbolize peace. Victoria is shown against a red background with a decorative framework recalling wrought iron that serves as a scaffolding of sorts for bunches of fruit and flowers. The oval blue fields in which the coats of arms are placed are entwined with climbing plants. The White Eagle with the royal monogram is surrounded by vines, and the Lithuanian Charging Knight by pea plants with both blooms and mature pods. Birds perch on hanging bunches of fruit in the upper part of the tapestry and on the decorative framework at the bottom.

Tapestry with Satyrs Holding Up a Cartouche with the Monogram of Sigismund Augustus

Two satyrs hold a blue shield with a decorative monogram SA (Sigismundus Augustus) of King Sigismund Augustus. The cartouche is topped with a closed crown. The mythological deities stand in a frame of richly ornamented strips of wood, curved in an arc, against a forest landscape. The deity which can be seen on the left of the shield has a wreath of vine on its head and is girded with a vine with clusters of ripe grapes.

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.

Sugar bowl from Aleksander Józef Sułkowski's set

A sugar bowl with a lid, having the form of an oval flattened and buckled vase standing on four volute legs. The lid is topped with a handle in the shape of a cone. The legs are made up of dual scrollwork patterns with female masks in palmette crowns placed between them; their back side is additionally ornamented with raised acanthus leaves. There is a characteristic woven relief around the edge, called Sułkowski's pattern (Sułkowski Ozier).

Statuette of a Woman Selling Grapes

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.

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.

Statuette of a Woman Feeding Poultry

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.

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.