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Krakow Wawel Arrases 

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  Portrait of Sigismund II August, king of Poland King Sigismund II August ruled 1548-1572.

The Wawel Royal Tapestries of Krakow

Krakow has an unparalleled collection of once great European art of weaving magnificent painting-like pictures. Wawel arrases date back to the years 1553 through 1571 when King Sigismund II August commissioned best Brussels masters, then Europe's leading, to make some 350 splendid, elaborate tapestries. Huge wall hangings, some as large as 480 square feet, depict either biblical scenes in three series - Story of the Garden of Eden, Story of Noah, Building of the Tower of Babel - or landscapes with wild animals. The former were designed by Michael van Coxcie, “the Flemish Raphael", and the latter by Willem Tons. Smaller tapestries show arms and grotesques. Nowadays the Wawel Royal Castle boast 137 Sigismund’s Arrases that present the Renaissance north-European art at its height. The Castle arrases are supplemented by seventeen magnificent 17th-century wall hangings in the nearby Wawel Cathedral, notably the series of Trojan War and the Story of Jacob.

And in Krakow there is still another splendid Brussels-made arras, The Shower of Gold of circa 1515, at The Pricnes Czartoryski Museum at 19 Sw. Jana street.


The following are permanent exhibitions on the Wawel Hill:
Royal Chambers - historical interiors, tapestry collection of Sigismund II Augustus, royal portraits, Italian Renaissance furniture, Italian and Dutch painting of the 14th to 17th century.
Royal Private Apartments - historic interiors of private rooms once occupied by Polish royalty.
Crown Treasury and Armory - regalia, jewelry, precious weapons, armors and caparisons; Polish and West European.
Oriental Art - Turkish tents and banners, Turkish and Persian weapons and carpets, Chinese and Japanese ceramics.
The Lost Wawel - archaeological and architectural reserve of the early 11th-century church of St. St. Felix and Adauctus' with surroundings; objects excavated by archeologists on the Wawel Hill; ornate stove tiles of the 16th and 17th century. Plus multimedia presentation of the Wawel Hill's history.

Two other places of interest are available between April 1st and October 31st.
Dragon's Den - big cave said to be the fiery monster's hideout.
Sandomierska Tower - one of the Wawel fortification towers. 

See the opening hours

Visitors can also see various temporary exhibitions. 

The Wawel Hill is accessible to visitors daily since April through September from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. and since October through March from 6.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. The Royal Castle's arcaded courtyard is off limits half an hour before the closing time. Exhibitions in the Royal Castle are closed on Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, November 1 and November 11.

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Krakow in Poland

Wawel Hill
Wawel Hill in Krakow, the mecca of every Pole and a must for foreign tourists, is a microcosm of Polish history and culture.

Wawel Cathedral
Poland's impressive national shrine shelters plenty of superb church art.

Wawel Royal Castle
Home to three dynasties of Poland's monarchs. Its stately halls and exquisite chambers are filled with priceless art, best period furniture and rare ancient objects. The collection of the 16th-century monumental Flemish tapestries is matchless.

Audience Hall
The Royal Castle's throne chamber has the most singular decor

Dragon's Den
Huge natural cavity inside the Wawel Hill is the legendary home of a legendary monster.

Crown Treasury and Armory
The Crown Treasury shows Polish royal memorabilia, jewels and other precious items. The adjacent Armory displays 15th to 18th-century arms

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