The Wawel Royal Castle, located by the Vistula river in Krakow, is one of the most important royal residences, as well as a symbol and a monument of Polish history and culture.
The first castle was erected on the Wawel Hill already in the 11th century. For over 500 years, until the capital was moved to Warsaw, Wawel was the main residence of the Polish rulers. During the reign of the Jagiellon dynasty, a complex of Romanesque buildings was rebuilt into a beautiful Renaissance residence.
In theWawel Castle there is a big collection of wool-silk -woven paintings which have been named after Arras, a small town in the north of France. The first Arras tapestries were brought to Wawel Castle by Queen Bona. Later her husband King Zygmunt bought 18 tapestries in Antwerp.
In 16 th century there was 356 tapestries. The priceless collection dispersed all over the Europe. By various routes, Wawel tapestris reached Bari, Vienna, Stockholm, the court of Pope urban VII and France. After the partition of Poland in the 18th century, the collection was sent to Moscow folowing the order of Catherine II. They adorned the Tsars palaces in Petersburg, Moscow and Kremlin. They returned to Poland following the Treaty of Riga.
During WWII the tapestries had a long Odyssey. Hidden from occupying Nazis, the travelled through Romania, France and England and finally reach Canada. Only 136 of them returned to their original location in 1961.
Luckily the Cracow collection is still one of the finest in the world. A collection of Arras are displayed in the Renaissance wing of the castle.
People, beasts and trees, even tiny plants ..... just Arras.