For over five hundred years, Wawel Hill was the seat of Poland’s monarchy. The original cathedral (Mon–Sat 9am–5pm; 8zł) was built in 1020, but the present basilica is a fourteenth-century structure, with a crypt that contains the majority of Poland’s 45 monarchs. Their tombs and side chapels are like a directory of European artistic movements, not least the Gothic Holy Cross Chapel and the Renaissance Zygmuntówska chapel. The excellent Cathedral Museum (Mon–Sat 9am–4pm; 12zł) features religious and secular items dating from the thirteenth century, including all manner of coronation robes.

Visitor numbers are restricted, so arrive early or book ahead to visit the various sections of Wawel Castle (ticket office Mon–Fri 9am–5.45pm, Sat & Sun 10am–4.45pm), including the State Rooms (April–Oct Tues, Thurs & Fri 9.30am–4pm, Wed & Sat 9.30am–3pm, Sun 10am–3pm; Nov–March Tues–Sat 9.30am–3pm, Sun 10am–3pm; 16zł), furnished with Renaissance paintings and tapestries, and the grand Royal Private Apartments (Tues–Sun 9.30am–5pm, Sat & Sun 11am–6pm; 21zł). Much of the original contents of the Royal Treasury and Armoury (same times as the State Rooms; 16zł) were sold to pay off royal debts, but still feature some fine works, including the Szczerbiec, the country’s original coronation sword.