When visiting Krakow Poland, you really must make time to visit Zamek Krolewski otherwise known as the Royal Castle. The structure dates back to the early 16th century. King Sigismund the Old hired Italian artists to design and build his castle, which was nearly destroyed by fire near the end of the 16th century. You can still see parts of the Renaissance castle such as the arcaded courtyard. In the 17th century, the castle was nearly destroyed during the Swedish wars but in 1905, a Policy society bought the castle and began to restore it. The castle was again almost destroyed in 1945 by the Nazis but managed to, once again, remain mostly intact.
Today, the castle is a beautiful example of artistry and craftsmanship. The royal chambers have been decorated and furnished in the 16th and 17th century style to provide visitors with a glimpse of the grandeur of that time. Visitors will see the Arras-style tapestries from the Low Countries that were carried out of Poland to Canada during World War II to protect them from being destroyed (they were returned in 1961). The castle’s ground floor houses some of the Polish crown jewels including the Szczerbiec, a jagged sword from the 14th century that was used during the coronation of Polish kings. From there visitors can tour the west wing to seek a collection of embroidere3d Turkish tents and visit the Royal Armory to view a collection of arms and armor.
Children will especially love visiting the Dragon’s Den located in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill (the ticket office is opposite the castle). Legend says that the dragon threatened to destroy the village unless he was fed a damsel each week. The king promised riches and his daughter’s hand in marriage to the man who could slay the dragon. Many tried and failed until a cobbler tricked the dragon. During warmer months, smoke and flames come from the cave, which is guarded by a bronze statue of the dragon. A definite must-see for children of all ages!
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