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Mike's Adventure to Poland - 2002

Part 13: Wawel

Wawel Hill is in Krakow overlooking the Wisla River.  People have been living on Wawel Hill for 50,000 years, but it wasn't until around the 10th century that a castle was built atop Wawel and for the next 700 years, it was the capital of Poland until it was moved to Warsaw in the 1600s.

Looking up at Wawel Hill
Wawel Hill from below.

The legend is that there was a castle who lived under Wawel Hill who attacked the townspeople and ate all their children.  When the townspeople wanted to stop the dragon, they found a guy named Krak who went to fight the dragon.  He took a sheep, gutted it, and replaced it with sulfur.  The dragon ate it and got really bad heartburn, and so he went to the river and drank the water from it and exploded.  The townspeople rejoiced that Krak had saved them, so they named their town in honor of him and made him their king.

Scott in front of Krakow Dragon Statue
Scott in front of the Krakow dragon statue.

Wawel Guard Tower
One of the guard towers on Wawel.

You can spend a whole day on Wawel.  We decided to take tours of the Royal Chambers, the Royal Apartments, Lost Wawel (an archeological site), and the Dragon's Den (a cavern under Wawel).  Since it was Sunday when we went, you could tour the cathedral as long as you didn't go during mass.  Well, leave it to me to lead the group into the cathedral seconds before mass began!

Wawel Cathedral
The Wawel Cathedral.

Detail of Wawel Cathedral
Detail of the Wawel Cathedral.

Wawel Cathedral and Castle
Detail of the Wawel Cathedral where it adjoins the Wawel Castle.

The Wawel Castle was built and renovated and remodeled by each ruler, so there is a huge hodgepodge of architectural styles, including Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque styles, as each ruler tried to put their own personal touch on the castle.

Wawel Castle Courtyard
The huge and impressive Wawel Castle courtyard.

The view from Wawel was beautiful, but limited.  Krakow is surrounded by a number of steel mills, and as a result, it is known as one of the most polluted cities in Europe.  I had to make sure that I took my allergy medication!

Hazy view of Wisla River from Wawel
The hazy view of the Wisla River from Wawel.

After spending the day touring around Wawel, we again returned to the Krakow town square for some last minute shopping before returning to Warsaw.

Continue on to Part 14: Dancers