The Royal Castle is a reconstruction of the historic residence that stood on this spot from the end of the 14th century until it was destroyed by the Nazis in 1944. It was expanded several times over the centuries, and has been restored to reflect its mid-20th century appearance.
History of the Royal Castle
The first structure on the site of the Royal Castle was built sometime between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th centuries, contemporaneous with the creation of the city and establishment of the ducal seat of Masovia by Boleslaw II (reigned 1294-1313).
The first half of the 14th century witnessed the development of Warsaw as it grew into an important center of Ducal power. During the reign of Kazimierz I Trojdenowicz (1341-1355), Warsaw became the leading town of the Duchy. The Great Tower, also called Grodzka Tower, dates from this era. It was the first brick structure in the city.
In 1379, Duke Janusz I the Older instructed the people of Warsaw to fill in missing parts of the castle wall on its southern and eastern sides, connecting then to the city fortifications still visible today. At the beginning of the 15th century Janusz I commenced building the grand ducal home, called the Curia Maior or Curia Ducalis.
Bolesław IV (1429-1454), the grandson of Janusz I, continued the investments made by his grandfather. He tried to strengthen the position of Warsaw as the seat of power and the main residence of the ruling family.
When Janusz III (1503-1526) died without an heir, Masovia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland and the ducal castle of Warsaw became a royal residence of the Polish monarchs.
The Union of Lublin in 1569 placed Warsaw in a central geographic position in the kingdom, and led to its gradual growth into the most important Polish city.
Sigismund II Augustus (reigned 1548-1572), whose memorial column stands outside the castle gates, was the first to establish his royal court in Warsaw. He initiated large scale works to expand the castle and constructed a bridge over the Vistula river.
Under King Sigismund III Vasa (reigned 1587-1632) the Castle underwent large-scale expansion and was transformed into a five-winged edifice with an inner courtyard that we see today. The castle became the royal residence, the place where parliamentary deliberations were held and the administrative and cultural center of the country.
Later additions to the Royal Castle include the early 18th century Baroque wing and late 18th century renovations to the royal apartments in what would later be called Stanislavian style.
The Royal Castle suffered repeated injury during the Second World War, and was ultimately destroyed by German Forces in September 1944.
What to See at the Royal Castle?
The Castle Tour Paid admission gains access to the Lanckoroński Collection, Royal Library, Armaments Collection, Great Apartment, King’s Apartment, Parliament chambers, and Matejko Rooms.
Lanckoroński Collection Gallery of Paintings, Sculpture and the Decorative Arts, including two Rembrandt masterpieces, Girl in a Picture Frame and A Scholar at his Writing Table.
Armaments Collection An interesting selection of cold weapons, firearms and armor from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Great Apartment Visit the Oval Gallery, Antechamber to the Great Assembly Hall, Council Chamber, Great Assembly Hall, Marble Room, Knights’ Hall, Throne Room and Conference Room.
King’s Apartment Visit the Hall of the Crown’s Horse Guards, Officers’ Room, Canaletto Room, Small Chapel, Old Audience Chamber, Bedchamber, Dressing Room and King’s Study, Green Room and Yellow Room.
Prince Stanislaus’ Apartment Visit the Antechamber, Drawing Room, Study and Gallery of the Four Seasons.
The Deputies’ Chamber Visit the Single Pillar Anteroom, Former Deputies’ Chamber, Former Deputies’ Anteroom, Great Tower, Former Guardhall and Justice Court Gallery.
Matejko Rooms Gallery of works by the great 19th century Polish artist Jan Matejko, including notable pieves such as Stefan Batory at Pskov, Rejtan (The Fall of Poland) and the cycle History of Polish Civilization.
Royal Library Built 1779-1882 to house a large book collection, now used for temporary exhibits.
Castle Gardens Occupying the grounds from the castle to the river. Present from the beginning of the property, developed in the 16th century and enlarged in the 18th century. See the wonderful webinar series online.
Also operating under the auspices of the Royal Castle:
Kubicki Arcades Nearby 1820’s commercial structure that was one of the few remnants to survive the Second World War. Badly deteriorated and presently under restoration, with plans to make it the main entrance to the Royal Castle.
Copper Roof Palace Nearby 17th century palace open to the public.
Something Special to do at the Royal Castle
View the free permanent exhibition From Destruction to Reconstruction, found in the basement of the castle to learn how the Polish people rallied from the ashes of the Second world War to rebuild the Royal Castle and restore it to its former glory as the crown jewel of Warsaw.
Visit the chapel and pay homage to Polish patriot Tadeusz Kościuszko, whose heart is preserved there in an urn. A freedom lover and hero of the American revolution, it was his plan for West Point that the American traitor Benedict Arnold offered for sale to British forces.
The White Lady
Some people say that the royal apartments are haunted by a “white lady”, whose appearance signals impending disaster. What do you think – truth or myth?
Royal Castle Details, Open Hours and Admission
Open Tuesday – Sunday 11:00-17:00
Castle Gardens, Open 10:00-20:00
Buy admission tickets online
The Castle is CLOSED on the following holidays:
New Year (January 1st), Epiphany (January 6th), Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, Labor Day (May 1st), Corpus Christi, All Saints’ Day (November 1st), Christmas Eve (December 24th), Christmas Day (December 25th), New Year’s Eve (December 31st)
The Royal Castle in Warsaw
A Monument of Polish History and Culture
pl. Zamkowy 4
Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square) – 116, 178, 180, 503, 518
Stare Miasto (The Old Town) – 160, 190, 527
Stare Miasto (The Old Town) – 4, 13, 20, 26
Underground (change necessary):
M1 – Ratusz-Arsenał
M2 – Nowy Świat-Uniwersytet, Dworzec Wileński
Planning to visit Poland?
Check out our Poland travel destination page for all your information needs, including news, ideas, advice, and links.
Only interested in the most important sights? Choose from the Faber Dozen, our fifteen best ideas for a memorable visit.
Just Browsing? Go back to the narangah Travel home page to uncover a wealth of travel information about destinations near and far. Imagine yourself there, and let us take you exploring around the world!