In the 16th century, Wawel Castle in Cracow was redesigned as a magnificent Renaissance residence. The Commonwealth of Two Nations, comprising Poland and Lithuania, was one of the most powerful and largest countries in Europe at the time. Bona Sforza, a princess from Milan, married King Zygmunt the Old from the Jagiellonian dynasty. She brought not only Italian clothes and cuisine to the Cracow court, but also many artists. They left behind numerous marvelous sculptures and architecture, such as the Zygmunt Chapel at Wawel Castle.

Polish magnates also built magnificent residences, including the impressive castles in Krasiczyn and Wisnicz. The Zamoyskis built a whole town, Zamosç, where they founded an academy that became famous throughout Europe. The castle in Lancut, converted and improved by successive magnate families, was also famous all over Europe. Today the castle hosts a museum where music festivals are held every year in May. The Radziwill Palace in Nieborow, also a museum, has an impressive collection of Roman items and period furnishings.