As we stood watching the line in front of us crawl at a snail’s pace, the ticket board steadily counted down and our anxiety grew. The castle complex buildings and its museums are considered separate entities and you must purchase a ticket for each you wish to visit as well as the cathedral. This process greatly increases the amount of time each transaction takes.
Tickets to see the actual royal apartments of the castle are the most restrictive because entrance is via a guided group tour and we kept a keen eye on the tiny allotment as it steadily diminished.
We managed to finally get our tickets when there were only 18 tour tickets left for the day. Whew!
To a travel blogger this is terrible news and as you can imagine I was incredibly frustrated even as I was actually freed up to enjoy the beautiful cathedral, castle rooms and exhibits to a degree I don’t usually experience when I'm busy taking photos!
Beginning from this small hamlet, Krakow became the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. The city dates back to the 7th century and Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centers of Polish economic, academic, cultural, and artistic life.
The settlement was already being reported as a busy trading center of “Slavonic Europe” by 965 a.d. As trade through area became more efficient and important, the rulers of Poland took up their residence at the Hill as well. It was the capital of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1038 to 1569. It continued to be a seat of Polish government for centuries.
In 1609, King Sigismund III Vasa moved the capital to Warsaw, and both the castle and other buildings fell into neglect. The Swedish invasions of 1655–1657 and 1702 contributed to the further deterioration of the castle and through the centuries, during the many conflicts, the castle and its fortifications continued to be modified to accommodate many different uses.
The royal apartments you can tour today are restored as they would have appeared in the 17th century. The state apartments are on the top (third) floor rather than the second like most European palaces. The castle’s second floor contained private apartments of the royal family, whereas the court officials worked and lived downstairs. The rooms are furnished with beautiful period furniture and world-class objects of art.
It is known in modern times as the place where Karol Wojtyla, who in 1978 became Pope John Paul II, was ordained to the priesthood on All Saints Day (November 1), 1946 and served his first mass inside the Crypt of the cathedral in 1948.
As you can imagine, the 17th century cathedral interior is spectacularly beautiful!
- Try avoid visiting during a holiday weekend
- Make reservations ahead of your visit at the Tourist Service office
- Arrive early in the morning
- Opt for the guided tour (Polish/English only) of the royal apartments
- Remember, you must buy a separate ticket for each museum/castle/cathedral site in the complex.