December 17, 2017

Castles Along the Vistula

The rivers of Europe wind their way through the heartland of the continent. Historically, cities were established along rivers because they offered drinking water and transportation.  Today we admire the old-world cities, historic villages, beautiful countryside, medieval cathedrals and enchanting castles found along the banks of Europe’s rivers.

Along with the Thames, Seine, Danube and Rhine rivers, the Vistula is one of Europe’s great rivers.

Vistula River near Torun Poland

Vistula River near Torun by Pko

Traversing Poland from south to north, the Vistula is the largest river in Poland traveling 651 miles before reaching the Baltic at Gdansk.  Although the river passes many of Poland’s greatest cities it also flows past near picture perfect mountains, foothills, enchanting cities, grassy banks full of flowers and castles.

Here are some of the castles and palaces you’ll find along the Vistula.

Wawel Castle Krakow Poland

Wawel Castle Krakow by Eigenwerk

Wawel Castle in Krakow

Standing 150 feet above Krakow is Wawel Castle.  Built in the 10th century and starting out in the Romanesque style, the castle today is a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles.  Wawel castle remained the home of Polish royalty for 500 years and is known for its elegant rooms, galleries and tapestries.  The grounds also include a cathedral which houses the royal tombs.

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Arcade Poland

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Arcade by Jerzy Strzelecki

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Poland

Baranow Sandomierski Castle by Jerzy Strzelecki

Castle of Baranow Sandomierski

This beautiful castle, also known as “Little Wawel”, sits on the east side of the Vistula river.  It was built from 1591 – 1606 in Poland’s Mannerist style.  The Mannerist style usually has ornate attics, side towers and arcades and was replaced by the Baroque style.  Today this castle serves as a museum, hotel and conference center.

Janowiec Castle Ruins Poland

Janowiec Castle Ruins by Piotr J

Janowiec Castle

The castle was originally built during the 16th century and today is mostly in ruins although there are renovations taking place in an attempt to bring the castle back to life.  This impressive castle and grounds are worth the short hike and include a museum on Royal Interiors.

Pałace Wilanow Poland

Pałace Wilanow by A. Osytek

Wilanow Royal Palace

Wilanow, a suburb of Warsaw on the left bank of the Vistula, is home to a Royal Palace that was built for King Jan III Sobieski as his summer residence. The Baroque 17th century palace is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Poland.  The interiors are said to be exquisite as are the lawns and Italian style gardens.

Royal Castle Warsaw Poland

Royal Castle Warsaw by sfu

Royal Castle Warsaw Ballroom Poland

Royal Castle Warsaw Ballroom by Marek & Ewa Wojciechowscy

Royal Castle in Warsaw

For centuries this Royal Castle was the residence of Polish Kings and the Seat of Parliament. In fact, Nicholas I of Russia was crowned King of Poland here in 1829. This 15th century Gothic castle has a commanding brick façade but is best known for its spires.  At the center is the Sigismund Tower with clock which has become one of the symbols of Poland’s capital.  Many of the rooms have been restored including the Royal apartments and Houses of Parliament.

Pieskowa Skala Castle Poland

Pieskowa Skala Castle by Marek & Ewa Wojciechowscy

Pieskowa Skala Castle

The position of this castle really lends to the fairy tale feel you get when visiting Pieskowa Skala.  Dating back to the 14th century, the castle sits on a limestone cliff and is part of a series of castles built to protect the area during Medieval times.  Pieskowa Skala castle is inside the Ojcow National Park and was built in the Renaissance style.  While visiting make sure to see the beautiful courtyards and visit the renovated rooms and artifacts from the local area.


Well that’s just a taste of the Castles along the Vistula!


Have you been to Poland and any of these castles?

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  2. Deborah Fox says:

    Am in the middle of Michner’s POLAND and came to the web to see some of what he’s writing about. Love the photos, thanks for sharing !

  3. I’ve been to Europe a few times but never made it to Poland. Your post is making me really want to go! All the castles look lovely.
    Megan @ Roamancing recently posted..Roamancing South Africa – Shark Cage Diving

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Poland has moved up on my list of places to visit! Now I just wish I could find enough time to do all of Eastern Europe in one trip 🙂

  4. Lane says:

    Poland has proven to be a much over-looked country in many aspects — castles are just one.
    Lane recently posted..Fredericksburg: Small Town Charm

  5. Charu says:

    River cruising may be my next stop—what wonderful finds Debbie! Thank you
    Charu recently posted..Aquatic Acrobatics: SUP on The Big Island, Hawai’i

  6. Oh my. I always feel so uneducated when I visit your postings. Thankfully I leave feeling smarter than I showed up. Had never heard of the Vistula, had no idea there was castle in Krakow, but now I want to follow in your footsteps. Marvelous. Thanks for introducing me to new things like this.
    Courtney Mroch recently posted..Los Roques: The Next Bermuda Triangle?

  7. Wawel is stunning, Debbie, as is the Royal Palace in Warsaw. It’s hard to believe that it’s largely reconstructed after damage inflicted during the war.
    I’m going back to Krakow in Spring and would love to visit the Ojcow National Park, so may add a few castles to my tally. There are plenty to choose from.
    Johanna Bradley recently posted..Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post : Unforgettable

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I was amazed by both Wawel and the Royal Palace and would love to visit! You’re lucky to be going back to Krakow. I hope you get to visit the national park!

  8. Wow, you mean there are more castles than these! They are all beautiful. It’d be hard to choose one though there’s something about Pieskowa Skala that speaks to me. I hope they restore the Janowiec.
    On a whole other note, I have/had an uncle named Sigismund. I say had because we have no idea where he is!
    Thanks for sharing Poland with us, Debbie.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Finding Romance in Jamaica

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