The Vistula is the longest river in Poland and traverses the entire length of the country before emptying itself into the Baltic Sea. The entire river is almost 1000 km long and reaches all the way from south to north. Along this river, you will find banks that are peppered with shrubs and trees with flowers in every color you can imagine. However, the icing on the cake remains some of the most dramatic palaces and castles along the way. Here’s a list of some of the most amazing castles that you absolutely must not miss.
1. Malbork Castle
This magnificent castle is located 150 km north of Torun and is a stark reminder of the great skills of the Teutonic Knights. This castle is situated next to the River Nogat, near the Vistula delta, and evokes a strong sense of solemnity, mysticism, and romance. It consists of spires, turrets, gables, and towers and is built on several levels, rightfully earning its place among the largest brick castles in the continent. Inside the castle, you can find a winding maze of corridors, chapels, courtyards, and murals telling tales of the bravery and valor of the Teutonic Knights.
2. Wawel Castle
You will find this 14th century castle located on a hill towards the south of Poland, right after a sharp bend in the river just outside Krakow. This is a Gothic castle, as you can tell from the whimsical structure that consists of a few buildings. The inside of the castle has elegant rooms, completed with massive tapestries and Renaissance paintings you absolutely cannot miss. There is also a cathedral next door with beautiful sculptures. Right above the main doorway, you will also find a set of bones that are believed to be the skeleton of mammoths and which have been hung there as a sign of good luck. This cathedral is where many Polish kings have been crowned and are now buried.
3. Torun Castle Ruins
The walled city of Torun is located along the Vistula river 200 km further on from Warsaw. Once you enter the city, you feel as if you are taking a trip in history. Torun revolves around the life of Copernicus, the historical astronomer and mathematician. It is also a reminder of how powerful the Teutonic Knights were, who were responsible for building and developing the city. They controlled the city between the 13th and 15th centuries. Their most famous structure is a castle which unfortunately today is nothing more than ruins. You should also check out a leaning tower that is a tribute to the love of a knight for one of the local girls.
4. Wilanow Palace
This impressive palace is located on the border of Warsaw, the capital of Poland. It was constructed in the 17th century and it stands on huge manicured lawns all around it. This palace was passed down from one royal family to another before finally falling into private ownership. It was finally declared a national treasure around the 20th century. The design is primarily Baroque and is characterized by green and yellow towers. The tower itself is replete with royal paintings and other artifacts. The gold and red luxurious interiors provide a perfect backdrop for the display of portraits, sculptures, paintings, weapons, cutlery, and crockery that line the interior.
5. Royal Castle
This imposing castle is located in the middle of Warsaw’s Old Town and has served generations of Polish royalty for several centuries. It has been constructed in Gothic style in the 15th century and its design is characterized by bulbous spires. It has been transformed into a museum and is home to several paintings and portraits of the royal family. The castle faces a square that houses the King Sigismund’s Column which was built to honor a Polish king who transferred the Polish capital to Warsaw.