Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Zamek Królewski na Wawelu

[ Wawel Castle's Private chambers ]

Earlier in my visit to Poland Michał and I walked around Kraków and I was able to see the fantastic outside view of Wawel castle. Fortunately then, the weather was nice and the skies were clear, but while we were gone for the weekend, the bad weather came to Kraków as well and it was actually snowing!

Michał and I met Ania at the castle and we made it indoors to warm up, but also check out some of the private chambers of the castle as well [ I don’t know what seemed more important at the time!]. I actually saw the inside of Wawel in two visits, because Kaśka had never been inside [naprawdę?] and also, just because it was so big. I was able to see many of the rooms that were used for the royal court as well as the guests to the castle. The rooms were filled with Tapestries from Belgium to furniture from Italy [one of Poland’s queens came from Italy. She is known for bringing great architects, artists, as well as veggies like tomatoes and potatoes to Poland!].

[www.wawel.krakow.pl ]

The unique fact about the Tapestries – the largest collection of its kind woven with threads of gold and silver – was that they managed to survive potential damages from WW2 by being removed from the castle, and making a journey through Europe from Romania to Great Britain, and ended up in Canada for safe keeping until the 60’s when they were safely returned.

[ Interior photos from : www.wawel.krakow.pl ]

No pictures are allowed inside the castle, but the rooms probably wouldn’t be served justice from my camera anyways. Inside the main rooms of the King – including cool furniture in the Alchemy room amongst others – I learned that Polish royalty was not one of divine intervention – meaning that it was a royal bloodline selected by God. The Polish royalty was actually elected, so it was in a sense a democratic monarchy voted in by the large 30% of noblemen [compared to the average 4% in other European societies].

Kaśka and I discussed how this could have impacted the history of the castle, and we both guessed – we have no idea if this is true – that whereas the castle has many treasures, it is not garishly ordained like some other European monarchies, like Britain or France. We assumed that because there was no divine intervention that the attention may have been devoted to promotion of architecture and/or other sciences/information since Kraków had always been a central point for knowledge and academia in Europe - After all, I also learned that Poland had the first constitution in Europe, The May Constitution [Second in the world only after the USA] which I found to be astoundingly progressive for Polish history. [ However, the constitution lasted only one year until Poland was conquered again in the Russo-Polish war of 1792.]

It was just a guess, but the great architecture spanning different centuries and artistic styles, to the huge number of private chambers for the royal cabinet, Wawel castle still captured all our imaginations and we still have much more to see [like the underground caves that bear the legend of the Krakowian Dragon!]

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