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Wawel Royal Castle - HOME

Wawel Royal Castle
State Art Collection

31-001 Kraków, Wawel 5

(+48 12) 422-51-55, 422-61-21

Tourist Information:
(+48 12) 422 51 55
ext. 219

Reservations and Guide Service:
(+48 12)
422 16 97

Press contact:
(+48 12) 422 51 55
ext. 380, 341

Architectural restoration

Repairs and restoration have been continually conducted in castle buildings. Restoration work in the modern sense of the word, started after the Austrian army left Wawel hill in 1905. A special institution was established to undertake the grand enterprise of restoring the castle – Management for the Restoration of Wawel Royal Castle.

Before the First World War, under the management of architect Zygmunt Hendel, the arcaded courtyard was renovated, architectural research was conducted and work on the elevations of the castle was started. When Poland regained independence in 1918, work on the elevations was completed; most castle interiors were renovated and organised according to Prof. Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz’s plans. The organisation of archaeological and architectural protected areas, presenting the remnants of the Romanesque church in the western wing of the castle, St. Felix and Adauctus’s rotunda in the old castle kitchens, and a Romanesque defensive and residential tower, was an innovative solution. In the interwar period work on other buildings was also initiated, but it was stopped in 1939 because of German occupation. Major restoration work after the Second World War, conducted by Prof. Alfred Majewski and supervised by Wawel Restorer Prof. Jerzy Szablowski, was the renovation of the interiors of the western wing of the castle and the Senatorial staircase.

In 1986 one institution became fully responsible for the historic complex of Wawel – Wawel State Art Collection (from 1994 known as Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection). After several dozen years since the beginning of restoration work, damage caused by pollution and new demands influenced the decision, in the last decade of the 20th c., to undertake another restoration of the entire castle. The work is financed by the Social Committee for the Restoration of Krakow’s Historic Monuments fund, donations from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the museum’s own income and by sponsors. All work is supervised by the Director of the Museum and the Restorer of the Wawel Hill Monuments, Prof. Jan K. Ostrowski.
In the years 1991-2000 restoration of the elevation and most interiors of the royal castle was conducted and the arcaded courtyard was restored and resurfaced with paving stones (design by architect J. Kisielewski and Dr. Z. K. Baster). This work was granted the first prize in a competition for museum event of the year in the field of restoration. A new arrangement of the small courtyard (Batory courtyard) between the castle and the cathedral was completed, and work was conducted on several segments of the defence walls: the brick wall, the wall along the way to the fortress gate under the Hen’s Foot and some areas of tie beam fortifications which embrace the castle from the west.

Since 2001 another phase of the restoration of the Wawel historic complex has been conducted, related to the restoration of the fortifications and the reorganisation of the castle surroundings. The Coats of Arms gate, an old turret of the lower gate, called Ladislaus IV’s bastion, the Austrian turret Under the Hen’s Foot (with the bridge, gate and the fortress road), further fragments of tie beamed fortifications (with the adjacent view terrace) and two ‘fire towers’ – Lubranka (with a recreation of the historic finial) and the Sandomierz tower (design by architect P. Stepień and Dr. St. Karczmarczyk) have been restored. Work on the eastern fragment of the defence walls, planned for several years, has also been started. Work on the northern slopes of the castle hill and the terrace above them has been completed, and work also continues on recreating the royal garden complex on the eastern part of the hill. Renaissance steps, connecting the castle with the gardens, have already been reconstructed and the supporting walls of the upper terrace have been restored (design by architects P. Stępień, J. Smólski and Dr. St. Karczmarczyk), to prepare the architectural framework for recreating the gardens.

Another task is the restoration of the lower castle. In previous years the restoration of building no. 9 was conducted in several stages, the gradual restoration of building no. 5 was initiated (the Royal Kitchens), roofs were repaired on buildings no. 7 and 8 and restoration of building no. 7 was started, comprising three old Gothic-Renaissance houses. In 2006 the restoration of the historic entrance road to Wawel through the Coat of Arms gate was completed.

The above-mentioned restoration and construction work is accompanied by restoration and technical work, necessary to maintain the correct condition and the proper functioning of the buildings. The restoration of the Wawel complex within the defence walls will be followed by the restoration of the slopes of the hill and the surrounding streets, which is to be undertaken by Krakow City Council.

Detailed reports from restoration and repair work in the historic Wawel buildings are presented in the annual volume "Studia Waweliana".
                                                                                                                 Piotr Stępień