Wawel Hill has joined world-renowned museums like the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay and the Tower of London in security consciousness. Now, tourists entering the castle have to cross a metal detector gate and have their personal belongings X-rayed.The gates are installed at the Berecci entrance (western wall of the castle) to prevent people from bringing in firearms and sharp or potentially dangerous objects, such as baseball bats, explosives, and flammable or toxic substances.
“Museums and objects of national historical value, like Wawel, are now in jeopardy of terrorism or vandalism. The control gate system will minimize this threat, enabling everyone to enjoy the beautiful architecture and art in peace,” comments Przemyslaw Nowogorski, assistant director of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.To diminish inconveniences and potential crowds, the ticket offices and tourist center will open earlier. Visitors can also leave their belongings in a free locker around Wawel Hill. So far, swift entrance checks have ensured that lines remain shorter.”Tourists don’t have anything against being checked,” said one of the guards. “They understand that this is how it has to be. For now, we haven’t found anything dangerous among personal possessions. Well, maybe two or three tourists had pocket knives. But these have to be deposited, too.” This year, at least 500,000 visitors have already come to Wawel Castle.
Last year it received around 1 mln tourists. The need for security is obvious, for both the castle and the visitors themselves. Though now quite safe, before a monitoring system was installed in 2001 pickpockets used to roam Wawel Hill. The museum staff unanimously agrees that the very sight of the gates is enough to keep people from mischief.”I hope that we’ll never face a situation when the gates prove to be an essential means of security rather than a standard measure of precaution,” said Jan Ostrowski, the castle director.