Dragon's den: cave
exploration in central Krakow.
Tradition connects the
beginnings of Krakow with one Prince Krak who rid his people
of a dragon devouring both their stock and their virgins.
For centuries a large, 200-foot-long natural cavern in the
western rocky slope of the Wawel Hill above the Vistula (Wisla)
river bank has been known as the monster’s den. Today the
cave still attracts swarms of visitors.
In fact, the Dragon’s Lair (Polish ‘Smocza Jama’) is
the area’s oldest residence, inhabited by man from the Stone
Age through the 16th century.
Visiting the Dragon's Den
Visitors can enter it via a turret of the west
fortifications atop the Wawel Hill. There is a ticketing
machine at the entrance but tickets to the 'Dragon's Lair'
are also available at the Royal Castle's main box office.
A long, spiral flight of steep stairs - 135 steps - takes
visitors down to a succession of three chambers under the
Wawel Hill. The staircase is a converted well of the 19th
The underground route is just 80 meters in length. The
second, largest cavern is 25 meters long and ten meters
high. The place is well lit with electric lamps.
Tourist can see only part of the 270-meter-long Wawel cave.
The rest of it, including five underground ponds and narrow
passages are too dangerous and off limits to visitors.
The exit leads through the mouth of the cave situated next
to the embankment upon the Wisla river.
A bony life-size bronze sculpture of the Krakow Dragon
stands on a boulder by the exit of the Dragon's Lair.
Children's pet monster since its unveiling in 1972, the
sinewy creature is the creation of Krakow's maverick artist
Bronislaw Chromy. The sculpture spurts fire on demand via a
Tickets and opening hours of the Smocza Jama (Dragon's Lair).
price to the DRAGON'S LAIR is less than one euro.
Open daily since May 1 through October from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00
Wawel Hill in Krakow, the mecca of every Pole and a
must for foreign tourists, is a microcosm of Polish history and
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
The Royal Castle's throne chamber has the most
The matchless collection of 16th-century monumental
Treasury and Armory
The Crown Treasury shows Polish royal memorabilia, jewels and
other precious items. The adjacent Armory displays 15th to
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, November 1 and
See the opening hours of the Royal Castle's permanent
exhibitions and other attractions of the Wawel Hill in Krakow
The following are
permanent exhibitions of the Wawel Royal Castle:
Royal Chambers - historical interiors, tapestry
collection of Sigismund II Augustus, royal portraits, Italian
Renaissance furniture, Italian and Dutch painting of the 14th to
Crown Treasury and Armory - regalia, jewelry,
precious weapons, armors and caparisons; Polish and West
Oriental Art - Turkish tents and banners,
Turkish and Persian weapons and carpets, Chinese and Japanese
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
and fees might be subject to changes. For inquiries and booking
please contact the Tourist Service Office (BOT), Wawel 5, 31-001
Krakow, Poland, tel.: (+48) 124225155 ext. 291, tel./fax: (+48)