Wawel Recovered

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Following the final partition of Poland in 1794, Wawel Hill was seized by Russian and Prussian forces, eventually ending up in Austrian hands. The occupiers demolished some of the buildings, including mediaeval churches, and replaced them with a field hospital. In 1846, after the abolition of the Free City of Kraków, Wawel was converted into an Austrian citadel. When Poles in Galicia campaigned for at least partial autonomy in 1860, they also strived to free the symbol of Polish statehood from the occupying forces. The breakthrough came with the resolution of the Galician Sejm in 1880, bestowing the castle to Emperor Franz Josef I as a residence. At the turn of the 20th century, the cathedral was restored and work was started on conservation of the castle, involving acclaimed artists and architects and lasting several decades. The army finally left Wawel between 1905 and 1911. The new permanent exhibition Wawel Recovered commemorates the efforts made to save the former royal residence and to return it to its former splendour.

 

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