When it comes to imperial houses, Europe has quite a variety of impressive castles, the only thing that make some more renowned than others are the striking appearance and craftsmanship with which they have been constructed.
The Polish town of Krakow prides itself with a beautiful Gothic Castle which was erected by the order of Casimir III. Wawel Castle is actually an ensemble of edifices which encompass within their walls a courtyard. During the reign of Casimir the Great, the castle truly blossomed, being transformed into the perfect lodging for the royal family. However, the citadel was destroyed almost in its entirety at the turn of the 15th century when it was ravaged by flames.
But it can be argued that something good came out of this event in the sense that it was then that the architectural style characteristic for Renaissance was brought to Krakow. With the initiation of the rehabilitation process, Krakow experienced an architectural turnaround, the new wave of decorative design having been incorporated in all of the new constructions to come, not only in Krakow, but throughout Poland.
The historical past of the construction is tumultuous, as Wawel has experience both periods of greatness and of complete decadence. From the epicenter of the most powerful country on the European continent, Wawel Castle was transformed into nothing more than a dirty garrison under the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
At present, tourists are bound to find the Wawel Castle at its very best, as the edifice had undergone renovation for quite some time. The sections which are more likely to catch the interest of visitors are the State Rooms, the Treasury and the Armory.
The State Rooms are striking in their appearance, even more so if we are to take into consideration that these have been used for military purposes for close to a century. The restoration work was initiated at the beginning of the 20th century, but when WWII broke, the refurbishing process came to an end abruptly. But none of these historical hindrances is noticeable within the walls of the castle. These rooms are now decorated with beautiful tapestries and ancient collectables, at which are added antique furnishings. Wawel Castle has preserved an authentic feel to it in the sense that visitors actually feel that they are going back to that historical past, and they have the opportunity to walk alongside royalty. The only thing that lacks from this scenario are the actual noblemen; otherwise, everything is preserved to its minute detail.
The treasury and the armory are definitely worth exploring due to the precious objects encountered here. Tourists can gaze on the weapons of ancient times: swords, maces, and all sorts of weapons used in the past, some of them being beautifully adorned with precious stones. The designs are so unique that it becomes obvious that only a true artist could have created such one-of-a-kind pieces of weaponry.
The treasury located inside Wawel Castle consists of several ceremonial objects, the majority dating from antiquity. While you might expect to find the crown jewels here, with the castle having been the dwelling of the royal family, you will be disappointed to find out that these are not part of the treasury. In fact, these jewels have been melted near the end of the 18th century, when Poland underwent its final dismemberment. But there is something that has survived from the crown jewelry and that is the Szczerbiec Sword which was first used in the coronation ceremony in the 13th century and which has been used as such from then onward.
As it has been previously mentioned, the Wawel Castle traversed different stages having shifted its purpose in time. A museum has been organized here so as to maintain the history of Wawel alive. Several archeological diggings took place so as to uncover de hidden pieces of the puzzle, which were to retrace the past and give insight into the construction of the castle and of the way in which it was transformed throughout the years.