Wawel Castle (Poland)
The steep and lofty limestone hill (25 m above the level of the Vistula River), surrounded by the backwaters of rivers and marshes, has always been convenient to defend the habitat. As shown here conducted archaeological research, the oldest traces of human presence on the hill dates back to 100,000 years BC Numerous subsequent findings are related to already no doubt with a permanent settlement. In the ninth century the existing Wawel castle was probably the seat of the ruler-the prince and the main center of the tribal state Vistulans. After connecting to the Malopolska state Piast (approx. 990 r.), He became one of the main centers of power. At the turn of the tenth and eleventh century, the hill was probably already built a number of lay people, przedromańskimi buildings, brick awkwardly with a broken bone, he denied there had already carpentry. Interesting - partly preserved - building from that period is the rotunda of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may be acting the role of the palace chapel.
Castle-palace did not initially impressed with the size and, as shown by the excavations, occupied the area from the north (now one of the wings of the castle). They expanded it only when Krakow was the main seat of Polish kings - the late eleventh and twelfth centuries - in a northeasterly direction.
In the early fourteenth century, King Ladislaus the Short thoroughly extended the castle. Founded then, among others, residential tower called Łokietkową, rebuilt and enlarged at the time of Casimir the Great for a scenic break girded impressive buttresses, called the Hen's Foot. At the time of Hedwig in her neighborhood she was established representative tower named after the Danish, because during an official visit to Krakow lived there for Eric, the king of this country. In such form, the castle survived until 1499, when it was consumed by fire.
Since 1504 it was carried out reconstruction of the castle in the spirit of the Renaissance. This style reached Kraków via Hungary thanks to Italian builders. The work begun during the reign of Alexander Jagiello, was continued at the time of Sigismund I the Old. He led them in the vast majority, until the tragic death of the architect Bartolomeo Berrecci (who died in 1537 of a dagger blow given by an unknown perpetrator). The former medieval castle turned into a time - without losing the function of defense - the residence of a palace, with an impressive arcaded courtyard.
After a fire (1595). King Sigismund III Vasa moved the court to Warsaw, and he went away for good in 1609. While work continued on the reconstruction after the destruction of the castle, felt he was slow decline of his glory. During the Swedish invasion (1655-1657 r.), The castle was almost completely looted. Over the next century progressed its degradation, ultimately sealed occupation of the former royal seat on the Austrian barracks.
Castle was able to recover only in 1905. Gradually restored it to its former glory. The work started quickly especially after Poland regained its independence in 1918. Come back here then exported from the Polish by the invaders and during World War valuable items and works of art, including Szczerbiec - the coronation sword of Polish kings - and tapestries, which was again abroad in 1939. During World War II, the castle was the seat of Governor General Hans Frank, fortunately minor war destruction led to its rapid renovation.