the seat of secular and spiritual officials since the early middle ages. The 10th century foundations were later replaced by a stone castle and church in the form of a rotunda.
The hill was surrounded by a wall in the 13th c. From the 14th c. Wawel became the place of coronation and seat of kings. The whole complex, which combines all architectural styles, is dominated by the Royal Castle and Cathedral. Up until 1609, it was the residence of the Polish monarchs and until 1734, the place of their coronations and burials. It has served over the years as the residence of the Jagiellonian, Piast and Waza dynasties. It was always the centre of cultural, political and artistic life. Originally a Romanesque castle, then replaced by a Gothic construction in the 14th c., it was built in the Renaissance style in the 16th c. according to the plans of the Italian architects Bartolomeo Berrecci and Francesco Fiorentino.
The Renaissance architecture was complemented by its collection of artwork. The most valuable being the collection of tapestries ordered from Brussels by King Sigismund August in the first half of the 16th c. It's possible to visit the State Art Collection including the Royal Chambers, the Crown Treasury, the Armoury and the "Lost Wawel" Collection.
Today's cathedral is the third construction in its place. The first church was built in the early middle ages after the year 1000 by Prince "Bolesław the Brave". It was later re-built many times. Today's three-nave construction was built between 1320 and 1364. Polish Kings were coronated and buried here along with church dignitaries and national heroes. The Cathedral is furnished with 18 chapels, mainly in the Gothic and Baroque style. Decorated with numerous towers, the best known of which being the Sigismund Tower containing Poland's largest bell weighing 11 tons. It is also necessary to mention the exquisite silver sarcophagus of St. Stanislaw, a Krakow Bishop and martyr, the Renaissance Sigismund Chapel with shining gilded cupola - an example of some of the finest Renaissance artwork north of the Alps, and the labyrinth of crypts containing the sarcophagi of Polish royalty, venerated poets and national heroes.