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A to Z Challenge: W is for Wawel Castle and Cathedral

By Monday, April 27, 2015 , ,

This post originally appeared as part of the A to Z Challenge, and was called 'W is for Wawel Castle and Cathedral.
We read online that entrance to Wawel castle is free Monday mornings, so after double checking it would in fact be open Easter Monday we headed to the south of the old town to check it out. We still had to stop at the ticket office and pick up paper tickets despite it being free entry. Wawel Castle is more of a fortress than say, Prague castle, but it's not the stone citadel I usually think of when I hear Castle.

Since it was Easter Monday  a lot of it was closed. We did not get to see da Vinci's 'Lady with an Ermine', for example, and when we went to look into the cathedral were told it was closed.

There's a small museum called Lost Wawel with some of the more typical archeological site find - things like tiles and buttons. We did get to walk through one of the old halls on a walkway suspended in the air, which was a nice way to experience the site without walking all over a possibly fragile floor.

Image via wikicommons
Despite arriving at about 10:30, we had to wait until 12:30 to see the crown jewels and armory. I guess they deliberately space out the entrance times to stop over crowding, but it was very empty when we arrived. They only sell or give out a limited number of tickets a day, and it seems a shame that you can't go in when it's empty because you've been assigned a later time. For example, if only 40 people want to see the Crown Jewels at 10:30, then it makes no sense to make them wait until 100s are trying to get in.

We did get to see a lot of gold, and a lot of weapons. I was surprised at how little information was provided, a whole display case would have a descriptions like "guns, 17th to 18th century" or Swords from "Poland, Turkey" which I can only assume means Turkey and Poland. I, being the complete nerd that I am, wondered things like "This 7 ft (2.15m) sword was just ceremonial, right?", "why this guy's armor have wings?" and "where is Poland, Turkey, anyway?".

Via Wikipedia's Polish Hussar page
Seriously, there was a suite of armor with feathered wings coming out the back, but no information about it at all. Later I looked it up, and in the 16th c the Winged Hussars really did ride into battle with wings - possibly to protect their backs, to make enough noise that their forces sounded louder than they were, or maybe to drown out the other sounds of battle that could frighten their horses.

But none of that was included in the exhibition..

I asked at the info desk if the cathedral would be opened tomorrow, and was told it would open at 12:30 that day. which worked out very well for us, except it would have been nice if they'd told us that originally.

While the cathedral itself is more or less what you'd expect, the most unsual things about it are hanging just outside the front doors. One of the legends of Krakow features  he slaying of a dragon (sometimes by a cobbler, sometimes by the mythic King Krakus), and some of it's alleged bones are strung up at the entrance.

It's speculated that they're probably fossilized whale or mammoth bones, but there are times when stories are truer than facts, and dragon bones make for a very good story.

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  1. Love it, thank you for sharing your trip to Krakow. Great pictures, sorry you had to wait to get inside to see the crown jewels, wish the display was more informative, but that's like that in many museums. Hope you had a good time despite it.