04 October 2014

Pictures from Krakow part 1: Wawel castle

The two week break on the blog was due to my vacation in Poland and among the things we did was to visit Krakow royal castle, Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Wieliczka salt Mine. There are a ton of pictures from this trip and those three categories, I will be posting most of the pictures over the next couple of days - starting with pictures of the Krakow royal castle (Wawel).

Starting with the outside areas of Wawel castle which is situated atop a hill overlooking the Vistula river. It is possible to walk around the entire outer wall, as well as inside the courtyard and many of the buildings.

Outer walls
Approach towards the main entrance

Inside the castle grounds and exterior of the castle cathedral and belltower as well as the royal castle courtyard

 Inside the belltower which had dozens of huge bells, including the famous Zygmunt bell

 The royal crypts which house the remains of Polish royalty and national heroes. Among the most interesting imo are the sarcophagi of Polish WW2 general and prime minister in exile Wladyslaw Sikorski, revolutionary and general in both Polish and American war of independence Tadeusz Kosciuszko,  Napoleonic wars hero prince Jozef Poniatowski and that of king Jan III Sobieski who broke the siege of Vienna in 1683 at the head of a glorious Winged Hussar charge.

Other famous royalty contained within the crypts are king Stefan Batory and several members of the Polish Vasa line tracing back to Sigismund III Vasa.
 At the end of the crypt there is a large room dedicated to Jozef Pilsudski, first marshall of Poland and chief of state during the forming of the second Polish republic following the end of WW1. The copper casket is the same as can be seen in archive footage from the military funeral procession in 1935. Commemorating him is a bust and plaques of various Polish fighting units along with a plaque with a text paying homage to Polish soldiers fighting in the army, Armia Krajowa and those murdered during the occupation.
Unfortunately taking pictures isn't allowed in the main cathedral itself, only in the crypts and the belltower, hence the lack of pictures of the very impressive innards of the cathedral.

Worse still is that pictures aren't allowed to be taken inside the royal castle, treasury and arms collection either which imo is an outrage considering the hefty combined pricetag you have to pay to get inside those areas and considering that you can take as many pictures you want in museums such as the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw...

The number of museum personal acted as a deterrent most of the time but many tourists snapped occasional pictures, and I would be damned if I didn't. So below you can see a few pictures from inside the royal castle and the weapon chambers which I was able to snap after having figured out the movement patterns of the museum personal (thank you hours of playing stealth games on the PC for lending patience and observational skills!).

I'm most happy having caught a bunch of Arquebus, muskets, half muskets and other 18th century weaponry on camera since they are the main armament of infantry in my favorite miniature game By Fire & Sword. There were some crazy custom gunswords/axes that would not be out of place in a Final Fantasy game.
Finally we went down into the "dragon caves" beneath the castle. The Wawel hill is filled with holes in the limestone rock and the caves are all natural. It was pretty cool. Ending the visit to the castle is exiting the dragon caves to end up in front of the Wawel dragon statue which is breathing fire every couple of minutes.
Not far from the castle lies the old town, and around it are remnants of the former city wall and fortifications. Point of interest is the old Krakow barbican which used to be the outer defensive building through which everyone entering and leaving the city had to pass. Back in those days there was a large moat between the barbican and the city gate - connecting both with a bridge. Nowadays the area around the barbican is part of the city centre.


  1. Great pictures. What a beautiful place!

  2. Very jealous. Great pics. Did you get to jasna gora?

    1. No sadly not, we stuck to Krakow city for 2,5 days and made a combined Auschwitz+Salt mine tour on our last day. Had we been in Krakow one more day we would have made another trip into the countryside but we ran out of time since we had the rest of our vacation planned for Warsaw (where we both got food poisoning and remained at the hotel for 4 out of 5 days....).

  3. Always a pleasure to see pictures of Kraków - I was born there and spent five years as a student of Jagiellonian university. Were you able to see Wieliczka?

    1. Yes, I will upload pictures from Wieliczka and Auschwitz later this week.


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