Wawel Hill [2]

Zamek Wawel, Kraków

The outline helps in orientation and retracing the path we took to reach the external Wawel courtyard: from the old city through the Herbowa and Vasa Gates, between the Cathedral at the Vicarage to the courtyard. This is the path to Wawel Hill that for centuries was followed by kings, princes, bishops and their guests, and which is travelled today by thousands of tourists eager to get to know the place that is the heart of Poland.

We walk clockwise around the model, moving from the outline to the left. Over the inscriptions, we find first the 19th-century defence bastions, and over them a line of Gothic houses that today provide quarters for conservation studios and labs. On the right-hand side, these houses are flanked with the first of the three defence towers, the so-called Thieves' Tower, as in bygone days its dungeons were used as a prison mostly for thieves. After the Partitioning of Poland late in the 18th century, the Austrians made Wawel into a citadel, following their 19th-century defence strategy of turning Kraków into a powerful fortress surrounded with a ring or forts, in line with which the tower served the storage of powder and explosives. One day, the roof caved in, and a part of the upper storey collapsed due to explosion. The damage was repaired, yet the Thieves' Tower is the only one at Wawel that is bereft of its roof. Today it houses among other things a small souvenir shop.

In the last house before the Vasa Gate is the Cathedral Museum, with several world-class exhibits of church art. The gate connects the building of the museum to the cathedral developments. The Cathedral boasts three towers, with two of them brandishing baroque spires. The taller of the two, standing closer to the Vasa Gate, is known as the Clock Tower, and the lower – situated closest to the city centre – the Sigismund Tower, as for nearly 500 years it has housed the nearly 11-ton Sigismund Bell. Adjacent to it is the building of the Cathedral Treasury. The third and the least conspicuous of the Cathedral's towers is the Gothic Silver Bells Tower, whose fame equals those of its sisters. During the last few decades, the crypts in its vaults were the stage of two burials that caused controversy in Polish society. The first time it was that of Marshall Józef Piłsudski, and recently President Lech Kaczyński and his wife.


Wawel Hill [2] (mp3)

Date: 2013-06-17 Show ticket
News author: Weronika Dulowska
News Publisher: Portal główny EN
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