Kanonicza, the street usually taken to access the famous Wawel Hill, is short and fairly narrow. Yet it is one of the most important and ancient streets of the city; a street whose look has hardly changed over the centuries - authentic and very much alive. Moreover, Kanonicza provides an example of favourable changes that have continued in Krakow in recent years: the complex restoration of the built heritage and preservation projects unveil the city's true beauty almost layer by layer.
A look at a plan of the city proves that the space confined by the walls of the castle is similar to that of the Rynek (Main Market Square). In the castle's many chambers, exhibitions that simply cannot be missed await us: royal chambers and stately rooms, collections of Oriental art and military trophies, collections of Flemish tapestries of amazing beauty, as well as archaeological specimens - a testimony of the over-a-millennium-long history of Christianity in Polish Lands. It was here, in the Royal Castle, that the monumental exhibition entitled Wawel 1000-2000 was organised in the year 2000 to illustrate the development of Polish statehood. By all means worth visiting are also the Wawel Cathedral, the Royal Tombs - crypts containing royal sarcophagi, where we walk among Poland's entire history, and the massive "Sigismund" Bell, which peals only to commemorate events of the greatest importance to the country and the city. Half a day is hardly sufficient to see all these even if you hurry.
Yet there is more to Wawel than just exhibitions. Even if you were to postpone visiting the castle until your next, longer visit in Krakow, spend a while in the ring of castle walls even late in the afternoon. The gates are open much longer than the exhibitions, and you will have a chance to see the arcaded courtyard of rare beauty, the cathedral, to have a look at the Vistula River and its other side, where the famous Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology stands, housing the Japonica gathered by one of the most famous European collectors, Feliks "Manggha" Jasienski. Having descended to the banks of the river, we can see the Dragon and the entrance to his den: a favourite destination of family strolls. During St John's Night (June), this place becomes the stage for the huge open-air event: Wianki - the Floating of the Wreaths, continuing an ancient, pagan tradition.
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