The Wawel Cathedral

Last year, while attending a quite intensive conference in Cracow (Poland), in the late afternoon on the eve of the conference, I decided to take my camera and go out into the city. Unluckily one of my cameras broke down before I could enter the Castle Hill. Then, it started raining. The light rain turned into a heavy downpour. Still, I made many photos from under the umbrella. They turned out quite well. Cracow has a large, beautiful Old Town. Many buildings are illuminated at night. Even with a heavy rain, you gest nice shots.

Cracow is one of the oldest and most significant cities in Poland, with a history that dates back over a thousand years. According to legend, it was founded in the 7th century by a mythical prince named Krakus, who defeated a dragon that was terrorizing the local population.

The city grew in importance during the Middle Ages, becoming the capital of Poland in the 11th century and the seat of the Polish monarchy for 500 years. Over the centuries, Cracow was a cultural and intellectual center, home to artists, writers, scholars, and scientists. It was also a center of trade and commerce, with its location on the Vistula River making it an important hub for goods flowing between East and West.

Traditionally, the seat of the Polish Kings was the Wawel Castle located on the Wawel Hill. The castle complex includes the castle itself, the cathedral, and several other historic buildings. The origins of the Wawel Castle date back to the 11th century when a small fortified structure was built on the hill. Over the centuries, the castle has undergone many transformations and renovations. Its current appearance is largely the result of the reconstruction carried out in the Renaissance style in the 16th century.

This time, while being on Wawel Hill, I decided to take more pictures of the Wawel Cathedral, including close-ups of its architecture. The current Cathedral was built in the 14th century, although the site has been used for religious purposes since the 11th century. The cathedral has been the coronation site of Polish monarchs and a mausoleum for many of them and other prominent Poles.

The Cathedral has been repeatedly reconstructed, with elements of various architectural styles being added to it. Those additions make it very special. The cathedral’s architecture is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles, reflecting the various periods of construction and renovation over the centuries.

So, let us take a look onto the exterior of the Wawel Cathedral. It is however difficult to get the full view onto the cathedral, as it is surrounded by buildings standing quite close to it. The photos below are made from different angles. They are ordered from the view outside the Wawel gates to the view from the internal gate that leeds to the Castle internal yard.

The view onto the Cathedral Clock Tower. Below, the Tadeusz Kościuszko Monument. It was erected in 1820 to commemorate Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish general and hero of the American Revolutionary War

The opposite site of the entrance to the Hill. The Clock Tower is on its right.

West facade of the Cathedral

South facade of the Cathedral. In front the Tower of Silver Bells and exterios of royal chapels, inlusing the Sigismund Chapel in Renaissance style with the dome covered in gold

The wiew from the east side of the Cathedral. Behind my back the internal yard of the Royal Castle

Below closeups on the details of the exterior.

The cathedral is also known for its stunning interior, which includes numerous chapels, altars, and works of art. It also houses the Royal Crypt, where the remains of Polish monarchs and other notable figures are interred. The Cathedral can be visited, but the last time I was there a few years ago, taking photos inside was not allowed. The only place where photography was allowed was the Colc Tower, where one of the most important bells in Poland, known as the Sigismund Bell, is located.

The Sigismund Bell

The Sigismund Bell, also known as the Royal Sigismund Bell, was cast in 1520 at the request of King Sigismund I of Poland to commemorate his victory over the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1514. The bell was cast by Hans Behem and his brother, who were well-known bell founders from Nuremberg, Germany. It is made of bronze and weighs almost 13 tons, making it one of the largest bells in Europe. It is decorated with inscriptions and bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Bible and Polish history. The Sigismund Bell was initially installed in the Sigismund Tower, which was built specifically to hold it. Over the centuries, it has been used for a variety of purposes, including as a fire alarm, a call to arms, and a sign of mourning. During World War II, the bell was taken by the Germans as a trophy, but it was returned to Poland in 1946. Today, the Sigismund Bell remains an important symbol of Polish national identity and is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Krakow. The bell rings on special occasions, such as state funerals.

And yet the overall view onto the interior of the Castle Hill made from the other entrance way.

The Wawel Hill inside. On the left side the Cathedral and on the right the Castle buildings

The Wawel Cathedral