Wawel Castle is probably Krakow’s biggest tourist attraction. It is pretty neat, but not one of those castles where you (or your kids) can wander around to your heart’s content. It’s more of a cultural center, with a bunch of different historical and art exhibits, each requiring a separate ticket (although you can buy combinations) and mostly with timed entry. That said, it is all very professionally managed, everything is labeled in English, and the exhibits are particularly nice. We especially liked the guided tour of the private apartments, which included many asides about recent Polish history by our guide.
No photos are allowed in the castle, but I got a few of the outside and sneaked a few in Wawel Cathedral (AKA The Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus). We wandered into a few other churches as well, and so I’m tossing in those photos. Click any photo for a slideshow with captions.
Wawel cathedral from the castle courtyard
Statue and cool gutter things on the cathedral
Statue of Pope John Paul in the cathedral courtyard. He was once a priest at this church.
The Polish Pope
Inside the cathedral–cowering Moors at the feet of Jan Sobieski
Tomb of King Casimir the Great
Pretty tomb of a queen–not sure which one
The castle tower–yes we climbed this
The castle courtyard from the top of the tower
You can go up in a balloon for another view of the city
Communist-era hotel across the river Vistula from the castle tower
The Church of Saints Peter and Paul
Peter or Paul–take your pick
St Andrew–a Romanesque church next door
A Black Madonna
Unusual Moorish decoration
Just a cool shot
I found it amusing that all the notables buried in this church look so very Polish
This is not John Paul, but apparently an earlier bishop who looked just like him
A Carpathian, maybe
This is an Augustinian church near the Jewish Quarter
Saint Rita, the patron saint of difficult and impossible cases–I wonder if she takes on teenagers…
Augustinian monks killed in the Holocaust
St Mary on the Market Square
This is the fanciest church and apparently the most important to Polish tourists
Interior of the nave
This Madonna by the entrance seems to be important–every Pole who entered the church did a little bow to her and crossed themselves, and there were several people praying in front of it. But I couldn’t find anything in English online about it.