Please note: the exhibitions open until 2 pm on Tuesdays

Royal Private Apartments

The exhibition on the first floor of the palace encompasses the private chambers of the king and queen, as well as rooms used by the courtiers, which were often converted to lodgings for guests.

The separate suite of rooms near the Envoy’s Stairs, once constituted the royal apartment of King Sigismund I, and later of his son Sigismund II Augustus. In this part of the palace the original Renaissance beam and coffered wooden ceilings dating from 1524–1526 have survived, as have, in two rooms, friezes from the 1530s. The stonework windows and portals, carved in the workshop of Master Benedict in the 1520s, have a characteristic blend of Gothic and Renaissance features. The Renaissance furnishings include the Brussels tapestries—grotesques and verdures—commissioned for Wawel Castle by Sigismund II Augustus and Italian paintings from the gift of Karolina Lanckorońska; over sixty works from this collection are displayed in the studiolo in the Gothic Jordanka Tower.
In the oldest, north-eastern corner of the castle there is the charming, mysterious Kurza Stopka (Hen’s Foot), which, together with a neighboring chamber in the Gothic tower, was once the apartment of King Sigismund I the Old. In the tower of Sigismund III Vasa, added on next to next to it, is his study with a rich stucco decoration from around 1600. From 1927 to 1939, this part of the palace held the private apartment of the president of the Republic of Poland, Ignacy Mościcki, of which the reconstructed presidential bedroom in the Danish tower is a reminder. In two rooms in the palace’s north wing works from the period Wettin rule in Poland, including a splendid collection of Meissen porcelain, silver tableware, and carpets from Polish magnate manufactories. The largest room, known as the Columned Hall, is decorated in the Neoclassical style.

Bed Chamber

The Renaissance larch wood ceiling, painted frieze with male heads (partially reconstructed), two portals with Gothic and Renaissance features, and the chimneypiece all date from the 16th century, when the room was used as a royal bed chamber. The most important piece of furniture is the late-Renaissance English canopy bed. The 18th-century tile stove comes from the Wiśniowiec castle (now Vyshnivets, Ukraine). The Italian Old Master paintings of the 15th–16th centuries are from the gift of Karolina Lanckorońska.

The Hen’s Foot Extension

The structure that projects from the body of the castle, called the Hen’s Foot Extension, is a relic of the 14th-century Gothic castle. This part of the royal residence held the apartment of King Sigismund I the Old. After the fire of 1595, it was remodeled for King Sigismund III by Giovanni Trevano. During this period the marble door frames bearing the Sheaf – the coat of arms of the House of Vasa – were made. The 18th-century gilt leather wall coverings come from Moritzburg Castle in Saxony. The painted ceiling was installed during the restoration campaign of the 1920s and 1930s.

The Columned Hall

In the 16th century, this room was called the great hall (stuba magna), and served as the dining room of Sigismund I the Old. According to historical sources, the table silver was kept here. In 1787, it was redesigned and decorated by architect Rev. Sebastian Sierakowski for the only visit to Krakow of Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland. The room’s present form and furnishings – a suite of Neoclassical Polish furniture with gilt leather upholstery and a set of gilt bronze sconces and candelabra by the fashionable Parisian sculptors Philippe Caffieri and Pierre-Philippe Thomire – the room evokes that event.