If you are a seasoned European traveler, odds are you’ve visited many architectural sights, monuments, and historic landmarks that not only take you back to the time of old but also feature state of the art interior and unique architecture. The Royal Castle in Warsaw is no different. A tour of the castle helps you appreciate the rich Polish history it preserves.
The Royal Castle is one of the most popular buildings in Warsaw’s Old Town. Renowned for being the former residence of the royal family in Poland, the castle was completed destroyed during the Second World War. The structure you see today was rebuilt in the ’70s and ‘80s. Inside, you will find an extensive collection of Oriental rugs, coins, artworks, and paintings by renowned artists including the world-famous Rembrandt.
Another thrilling encounter is a tour of the former apartments of the royal families. You’ll see and experience how Polish royals such as King Stanislaus Augustus and Prince Joseph Poniatowski used to live. The reconstructed building looks just like its original. Depending on the season, you’ll have the entire castle to yourself as it is usually less crowded.
A tour of the Royal Castle takes you through some of the finest rooms that call the palace home. The Tin-Roofed Palace, for instance, houses a unique collection of oriental rugs from the Teresa-Sahakian Foundation and the apartments of Prince Joseph Poniatowski. Check out the paintings and artworks which date back to the 16th century donated by Countess Karolina Lanckoronska.
The Royal Castle has a rich and interesting history which goes back to the 14th century when the Great Tower, now known as Justice Court Tower, was built. As at the time Zygmunt III Vasa was in power, he transformed the castle into a five-winged edifice featuring an inner courtyard. It served as home to the royal family and a place where most parliamentary decisions were taken. In addition, the palace served as Poland’s administrative and cultural center.
The royal residence had its own fair share of destruction during the 17th century Swedish Wars. Luckily, it regained back its former glory during the reign of the Saxon-Wettin dynasty. Not long after it regained prominence, the castle was reconstructed in the mid-18th century. After the renovation, the chamber interior which consists of the Great Apartment and the King’s Apartment was incredibly transformed. In the 19th century, many of the collections in the Palace owned by the last Polish king were taken to Russia. However, the artworks were later recovered after Poland regained its independence in the 19th century and returned to where they belong in the castle.
In September 1939, when the Second World War started, the Nazis bombed the castle. Thankfully, a handful of the palace’s employees managed to save some relevant artworks and interiors. In 1945, the remains of the castle were brought to ground level by the German forces. After more than two decades of deliberations by communist authorities whether or not to rebuild the castle, they reached a final decision in 1971. The funds required to startup the projects took additional 9 years, thanks to enormous contributions from Poles living home and abroad. The reconstruction of the royal castle started in 1980. Four years later, the castle was opened to the general public.
It is however important to know that the Royal Castle Warsaw has been proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Warsaw made the world heritage list for a unique reason – reconstructing a replica of ancient architecture.
Today, the castle plays host to significant events and ceremonies. If you’d like to learn more about the rich history of Poland, the castle is a fine example of an educational center. Explore some of the best artworks that are hard to find anywhere else in the world at the castle.
The Royal Castle is indeed a wonderful place to visit and it will no doubt leave you struck in awe of its magnificence.
Why You Should Visit?
The Royal Castle is renowned by many as the pride of Warsaw. It takes you on a journey through the country’s long and troublesome history. One of the most captivating features of the castle is the interior. The castle’s interior is beautifully adorned.
Another major highlight is the collection of paintings by Bernardo Bellotto which depicts how Warsaw used to look before it was bombed by the German army. These paintings were used as the basis on which the new city was rebuilt.
So what makes the Royal Castle Warsaw popular?
- It is unarguably one of Warsaw’s largest attractions that draw in millions of people to the city
- Take a step back in time and explore the ancient life of Polish royals
- Explore some of the most important rooms in the castle
You will appreciate every minute spent here when with a professional tour guide.
What To Expect
Once you have a proper introduction, get ready for a swell time. First, take time to explore its astonishing interiors. Explore the king’s chambers which house an amazing collection of paintings and decorations from famous Polish moments. The apartments of Prince Joseph Poniatowski also boast an exclusive collection of artworks. There is an audio guide that tells visitors the castle’s history and how long it took to rebuild. Afterward, find your way to the former residence of Polish royals and marvel at the stunning transformation.
Legends have it that some of the halls in the Royal Castle are intermittently haunted by a white lady. Her appearance warns of imminent danger. A chapel, right next to the castle, is home to anum which houses the well-preserved heart of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish hero and freedom fighter. The gold plated wall of the Great Assembly Hall is indeed a sight to behold – you might be tempted to scratch off a bit from the wall. Refrain from every attempt to do that or get accosted by the security operatives in the castle.
If you are one of those with a keen interest in how the castle was rebuilt, don’t miss the basement exhibition ‘From Destruction to Reconstruction’, opened in 2018 in the Castle’s historic cellar. This exhibition shows visitors the extent of damage the building suffered during World War II and how it was resurrected. The good news is that the exhibition comes at no extra cost. Watching the multimedia that details the ‘before and after’ events of the castle will certainly move many visitors. This will help you have a better understanding of the castle itself as you take a tour around it.
More paintings and artworks await at the castle’s east wing. Here you will find the Gallery of Paintings, Sculpture, and the Decorative Arts featuring great works by Rembrandt. The two major painting worth seeing is the Girl in a Picture and A Scholar at his Writing Table. On the back of the showcases are impeccable X-ray images of the two of Rembrandt’s artworks. Yet another major highlight of the Royal Castle is the French Baroque Royal Garden.
Since the castle is located at the edge of Warsaw’s Old Town, then you might want to consider taking a leisure stroll around the city to explore other attractions. You will find lots of other interesting sights and sounds to discover.
- The castle is always open every day of the week from 10 am – 6 pm except on Mondays which is a day off. On Fridays, the closing time extends to around 8 pm.
- The castle is usually close to the public on the following days: New Year (January 1), Epiphany (January 6), Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, International Workers’ Day (May 1), Corpus Christi, All Saints’ Day (November 1), Christmas Eve (December 24), Christmas (December 25), New Year’s Eve (December 31)
- The castle remains open to the public during the following holidays: Easter Monday, Constitution Day (May 3), Pentecost, Polish Army Day/Assumption of Mary (August 15), Independence Day (November 11), the second day of Christmas (December 26)
- The Gardens are open on public holidays, during which the castle exhibition is closed
The castle does not open at certain periods during the year. Be sure to plan your trip accordingly and pick your dates wisely.
Royal Castle Tickets
Ticket prices: 30 PLN ($5,30);
Discount ticket: 20 PLN applies to students and the elderly aged 65 and above
children up to 16 years old: 1 PLN ($0,30).
Free access for kids aged 7 and below
Free tour of the castle’s permanent exhibitions on Wednesdays
Free entrance to the Royal Gardens and multimedia exhibition: From Destruction to Reconstruction
Audio Guide cost: 17 PLN ($4,50);
Group ticket (4 people and more): 11 PLN ($3).
Audio-Guide languages: Polish, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
If you want to learn how the Polish royals used to live back in the days, why the king sleeps on a small bed and the faces behind the statues of Minerva and Apollo, a tour of the Royal Castle is a must. Your professional tour guide will take you to places you ordinarily wouldn’t explore if you had visited on your own.