Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland, with Wawel Castle at right

PHOTO: Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland

Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland, with Wawel Castle at right

Click on title to view the photo in large format. There’s a good reason that locals call the church atop Wawel Hill simply Wawel Cathedral. It’s complete name is the Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus, a considerable mouthful for casual conversation. However, the shortened name in no way diminishes its magnificence. It’s Gothic base is topped by three towers: the gold-domed Sigismund’s Tower, the Clock Tower, and the Silver Bell Tower. Since the 14th century, Wawel Cathedral has been the main burial site for Polish monarchs. The tombs of King Sigismund II Augustus, his wife, and children are housed in Sigismund’s Tower. Other Polish Kings and notable Polish citizens are buried beneath Wawel Cathedral in St. Leonard’s Crypt. Though the cathedral may be the most imposing structure on Wawel Hill, it is by no means the most important. Adjoining it is Wawel Royal Castle. As home to Polish Kings since the 1330’s, the castle is considered to be the most historically and culturally important site in Poland.

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