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Wawel Royal Castle, Krakow, Poland

The symbol of Poland, the coronation castle of Polish kings, a place, where Polish kings and famous political and cultural figures are buried, and an incredibly valuable architectural monument Wawel Royal castle (Zamek Królewski na Wawelu) stands on the Wawel hill - on the left bank of the Vistula River. This architectural complex consists of the Wawel Royal Palace, the cathedral, auxiliary buildings and castle fortifications. The architectural styles of these buildings are very different from each other, but despite this difference, they blend harmoniously together, comprising one of the most beautiful architectural complexes of Eastern Europe.

Excavations proved that the Wawel hill was inhabited since ancient times. The constructions of contemporary stone castle on the Wawel hill began at the end of the 13th century. In 1340's the architectural complex was encircled by a fortified wall. In the 16th century King Sigismund I decided to rebuild the castle in the Renaissance style and invited best artisans from Italy.

Right at the entrance of the castle near the main gate is erected a monument to the national hero of Poland Tadeusz Kosciuszko. The history of this monument is quite interesting. During the World War II it was destroyed by the Nazis, and after the end of the war a copy of the monument was casted in Germany and placed at the old site. However, the horse of the new monument looks like a typical German horse, which has become a reason for such jokes as "Kosciuszko has changed his horse."

On the left of the royal gate the Cathedral of St. Stanislaus and Wenceslaus is standing. This cathedral is the place, where Polish kings were being crowned. Even after the capital was moved from Krakow to Warsaw the royal coronations were still taking place at this cathedral. Moreover, several Polich monarchs are buried here. The cathedral was built in the 11th century, but in the 15th was almost entirely rebuilt in the Gothic style. The cathedral contains the largest bell in Poland - Sigismund.

The oldest tower of Wawel’s numerous towers is the Silver Bells Tower, built in the early 12th century.

On the castle square several beautiful chapels can be found. They were mainly built in the 16th and 17th centuries. After passing the chapels the road leads to the courtyard of the royal palace. The palace was built by Italian architects. It has three floors. The first two floors from the side of the inner courtyard are decorated with arcades. The bedroom of King Sigismund I on the second floor, as well as Polish hall and the hall "Under the birds" are the most beautiful rooms of the palace.

During the Second World War, the castle was the residence of the German governor. Today, the whole castle complex serves as a museum. The importance of Wawel Castle for Poland is equal to the value of Versailles for France or - the Kremlin for Russia.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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