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Old March 26th, 2006, 06:09 PM   #1
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Renaissance Towns of Poland


Zamosc is a town in southeastern Poland with 66,633 inhabitants.


Zamosc is the world's only extant town with a fully Late Renaissance and Mannerist urban layout, recognised as an absolutely top-class monument of architecture. Founded in 1580 by Jan Zamoyski, Lord Chancellor of Poland, Zamosc was designed by Bernardino Morando as a multi-racial commercial centre (with a population of Poles Armenians Greeks, and Jews), an aristocratic residence, and a military fortress.

Zamość remains a perfect example of a Renaissance town of the late 16th century which retains its original layout and fortifications and a large number of buildings blending Italian and central European architectural traditions.

The Old City quarter of Zamosc has been placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

52 m. high tower of Renaissance Town Hall in Zamosc

Zamość Renaissance cathedral

Zamość cathedral is the most precious monument in the town. Since Jan Zamoyski assumed at first that the inhabitants of the town would be Roman-Catholics exclusively, the church was designed to hold 3000 people, i.e. all inhabitants of the town. The cathedral is fascinating because of its form, stone decorations and wonderful European (Carlo Dolcie's) and Polish (Rafał Hadziewicz's and Wojciech Gerson's) paintings. Numerous decorations point to the highest artistry of craftsmen and range the cathedral among the most wonderful Polish churches.

Armenian houses

The three most exquisitely decorated houses stand on the same side of the square as the Town Hall. They belonged to Armenian merchants who influenced the designs of the decorations.

Kazimierz Dolny

Kazimierz Dolny is a little town in eastern Poland, with 2,700 inhabitants

It is a considerable tourist attraction as one of the most beautifully situated little towns in Poland. It enjoyed its greatest prosperity in the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century, due to the trade in grain conducted along the Vistula river.

It has become an economic backwater after that trade declined, and this freeze in economic development enabled the town to preserve its Renaissance urban plan and appearance. From the 19th century it has become a popular holiday destination, attracting artists and summer residents.

The history of Kazimierz Dolny goes back to the beginnings of Poland as a state. A famous historian, Jan Długosz, mentioned the area of Kazimierz as a property of a Benedictine monastery at Łysa Góra in the 11th century. He also wrote that in about 1170, King Casimir the Just (Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy) gave several villages, including Wietrzna Góra (Windy Hill) to a convent of Norbetine nuns based in Zwierzyniec, Cracow. The grateful nuns changed the name of Wietrzna Góra to Kazimierz.

The original village developed near to the crossing of the Vistula River. Kazimierz grew thanks to the duty paid by people crossing the river. At the beginning of the 14th century Kazimierz was returned into the kings hands. The then king, Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki), gave Kazimierz the right to be a town. Most probably he built the parish church and the castle. The donjon, a fortified tower situated further up the hill than the castle, had been built some time earlier.

From the middle of the 16th century, Kazimierz enjoyed prosperity thanks to the transportation of corn down the Vistula to Gdansk. The most prosperous period was the first half of the 17th century, a time when the most important buildings were built in the town. The town got its new architectural shape after 2 fires in about 1565 and 1585. Wooden buildings were replaced by ones built of brick. The first was the rebuilding of the parish church (Fara), completed in 1613, by an Italian master Jakub Balina. He influenced the design of many other churches in Eastern Poland. Soon after that, 2 richly decorated houses, belonging to the Przybylo family, were built in the market place. St Anna's hospital was rebuilt and the Reformat's church was built in 1626. After 1625 the families of Celej and Górski built their houses. The goods transported on the Vistula were stored in many beautiful granaries placed on the river banks. The number of citizens was then about 5000. For comparison, Lublin had 10 000 at the same time.

The Swedish wars (Potop, The Flood), brought fires, damage and robbery, and consequent economical failure. Kazimierz was never to return to its former prosperity, in spite of many efforts.

Przybylo Renaissance family houses

Houses built at the south-eastern frontage of the Market Square are one of the most precious historical monuments of the kind in Poland.The houses were built at the beginning of the 16 th century by the Przybylo Brothers.

Renaissance Parish Church

by Piotrek :

The Parish Church The nolth-eastern frontage of the Market Square is closed by the Parish Church set on a hill. Its beginnings go back to the Romanesque Period. In the middle of the 14th century, the church was enlarged in the Gothic style, and at the end of the 16th cen tury and the beginning of the 17th century, the Parish Church was restored after two fires. It obtained then, the beautiful Renaissance outlook which has been preserved till today.


In Kazimierz Golden Age (16th-17th c), there were about 60 granaries standing on the bank of the Vistula and most of them were brick and has Renaissance facades. The oldest of the granaries that has been preserved till today is Mikoła Przybyło's Granary which later belonged to the Ulanowskis. It comes from 1591 and nowadays houses the Botanica/ Museum. It is standing at the old Przedmieście Gdańskie (Puławska Street) near Fajersztajn's Granary.

The Gothic Castle ruins

The Gothic Castle was erected by the town's benefactor, King Kazimierz Wielki, in the middle of the 14th century. It was built of the local bedrock. After having been enlarged in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Renaissance Castle soon lost its defensive functions and was destroyed during the Swedish Invasion. It has never been rebuilt. The picturesque ruin s are the obligatory tourist attraction. The view from the Castle walls evokes admiration of ali visitors.


The Turret that once played the defensive role, and that of a river lighthouse ma king the navigation easier is the oldest historical monument in Kazimierz.It was built in 13 century before the town location that took place a century later.

Janowiec renaissance castle near Kazimierz :

Janowiec Castle's long and illustrious history is associated with two magnate families-the Firlejs and Lubomirskis. Work on the castle was carried out by distinguished architects and sculptors during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, such as Santi Gucci Fiorentino and Giovanni Battista Falconi.

more pic of Kazimierz Dolny:

more photos by maciekwr :


Sandomierz is a city in south-eastern Poland with 27,000 inhabitants.

Old town in Sandomierz is one of most well known among Polish cities.


Sandomierz is one of the oldest and historically most significant cities in Poland. Archeological finds around the city indicate that humans inhabited the area since neolithic times. The city came into existence in the early Middle Ages, taking advantage of an excellent location at the junction of Vistula and San rivers, and on the path of important trade routes.

The first known historical mention of the city comes from the early 12th century, when the chronicler Gallus Anonymus ranked it together with Kraków and Wrocław as one of the main cities of Poland. In the testament of Bolesław Krzywousty, in which he divided Poland among his sons, Sandomierz was designated as a capital of one of the resulting principalities.

In the course of the 13th century the city suffered grievous damage during raids by Mongols. The old wooden buildings of the town were completely destroyed. As a result, in 1286 the city was effectively refounded by Leszek Czarny, under Magdeburg Law. The founding document is still preserved in the city archives.

After Polish lands were reunified in the 14th century, the former principality became the Sandomierz Voivodship, incorporating large areas of southeastern Poland. At this time Sandomierz had about 3000 inhabitants and was one of the larger Polish cities. In the middle of the 14th century the city was burned again during a raid by the Lithuanians. It was rebuilt during the rule of king Casimir the Great. The layout of the city has survived practically unchanged since that time until the present day.

The following three hundred years, running until the middle of the 17th century, were quite prosperous for the city. The most important historical buildings were built during this period. This golden age came to an end in 1655 when Swedish forces captured the city in the course of the Deluge, a dark period in the history of Poland.

During the time when the city was part of communist People's Republic of Poland no major industrial development took place in Sandomierz, preserving it as a charming, small city full of historical monuments among unspoiled landscape. In 1999 the city became a county capital.

photos by mitek :

Town Hall

The Town Hall - the former Gothic town hall was built soon after the Lithuanian raid in 1349.

In the 16th century it was developed into a form of an extended rectangle and topped with an Renaissance attic.

The Opatowska Gate

The Castle

The Castle - erected on the place of the former fortress from the 10th century. This royal-founded brick and stone castle was built since the 14th century. In1525 it was transformed into a Renaissance residence according to a project by Benedict called “Sandomierzanin”. Originally it consisted of four wings embracing an arcaded courtyard. The castle was blown up by the Swedish army in 1656. Only the western wing was preserved.

more photos by mitek :


Krzyztopor Castle in Ujazd near Sandomierz

Krzyżtopór castle is one of the most beautiful and mighty 17th century polish Residences. It has stayed in ruin since the Polish-Swedish wars. The castle was raised in the years 1626-1644 for Sandomierz Voivode Krzysztof Ossoliński according to a design by Wawrzyniec Senes.

The residence had a form of a castle placed inside a pentagon fortress with bastions; outside the ramparts there was a garden . Krzyżtopór castle conjoins the elements of Mannerist style with those of early Baroque and local styles. Its name contains a puzzle referring to the krzyż (cross), a counter-reformation symbol of faith and the topór (axe), a family coat of arms; the representations of both objects made of black marble mound guard over the entrance into the castle yard

Palace was built which embodied the structure of the calendar. It had four towers symbolizing the fours seasons and 12 big halls, one for each month, 52 chambers, one for each week of the year, and 365 windows. Destroyed in the mid- 17th century, it is now a formidable ruin, where a knights tournament is organized to commemorate the Ossoliński


Tarnów is a city in south-eastern Poland with 121,500 inhabitants.

On March 7 th , 1330 the royal chamber of king Wladyslaw Lokietek granted Spicymir, Krakow's governor, a document which allowed him the right to develop the city of Tarnow. The reason for which was that there was both a trade route connecting Germany to Russia and a crossing route from Hungary to the Baltic Sea that ran through the lands of Tarnow. He chose to locate the city on a hill, which set Tarnow high above its surrounding landscape (226 m above sea level). The Medieval layout of the city that was characteristic of the time of its founding, is still preserved today.

The greatest period of development for Tarnow occurred in the 16 th century when Jan Tarnowski the nobleman, or hetman, and famous entrepenour was the heir of Tarnow. In 1536 there lived 200 tenement houses and 2000 inhabitants within the city walls.

The House no. 20 and 21

The House no. 20 was founded in 1565 under Renaissance influence and belonged to wealthy Scottish merchants at this time. In the 17 th century it became the location of an Arian's chapel until the end of the 18 th century when it was the loza masonska.

The House no. 21 was built at approximately 1568 in the Renaissance style;

The Town Hall

The Town Hall is a Gothic building rebuilt under Renaissance influence at the end of the 16 th c. The main structure is 18 meters high and supports a 30 meter tower that has a staircase at its southern face. The
The Town Hall top half of the building is crowned with a brick ridge that is decorated with stone volutes, pinnacles, and grotesque mascarons. Finally, the Town Hall contains a Renaissance portal inscribed with the Leliwa crest and a Latin inscription reading, "DOMINUS CUSTODIAT INTROITUM ET EXITUM TUUM," or may God guard your entrance and exit.


Erected in the second half of the 14th century, it serves as a parish church under the invocation of the Nativity of Our Lady. The Cathedral was renovated during the 15th century and once again at the beginning of the 19th century. During the years 1889-1891 it was reconstructed in the Neo-Gothic style. The Cathedral is a quite impressive structure with gorgeous lierne vaults, late Gothic style portals and a tower that reaches towards the heavens. Six Renaissance sepulchral monuments commemorating members of the Tarnowski family (16th century) and the statuary monuments of Ostrogski princes (1620) remain in its interior.

more photos of Tarnow :


Jarosław is a town in south-eastern Poland with 40.297 inhabitants

Up to the 11th century the prince of Halicz, Prince Jaroslaw the wise, owned Jaroslaw and the town was probably named after him. Jaroslaw is mentioned at the first time as an urban settlement in documents dated from the years 1234 or 1213.

After the annexation to the kingdom of Poland Jaroslaw was given additional rights and large territories, by king Kasimir the great, for it's further development.

During the 15th century Jaroslaw suffered from Tartar, Wallachian and Turkish raids, and in 1502 it was almost completely destroyed in one of these raids. Until the 17th century the town suffered from numerous hardships.

In spite of these mishaps Jaroslaw was known already in the 16th century as a big commercial centre in Poland and one of the greatest centres in central Europe. Famous trade fairs that were held three times a year in Jaroslaw drew up merchants and financiers as far as from Italy Turkey and Persia. In 1629 eleven (or twenty) different Cechs (Guilds) and 199 artisans were active in Jaroslaw. The town hosted a variety of factories and workshops, among them: steel products, candles, weaving and clothing products workshops and the famous printing house of Jan Szelig. The geographical factor had great significance for the economic system of the town.

Jaroslaw is seated on the banks of the San River on which barges and boats were built in order to carry grains. Grains, meat products and other goods were shipped from the port to Gdansk.

Town hall

Orsettich renaissance house

Tenment house Orsettich - one of the most valuable Polish monument from Renaissance epoch.

more pic of Jaroslaw :

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Old March 27th, 2006, 11:08 PM   #2
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Old March 27th, 2006, 11:48 PM   #3
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Old March 28th, 2006, 12:05 AM   #4
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Thanks for taking the time to put together this great thread, Docent
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Old March 28th, 2006, 05:51 PM   #5
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It must have looked really fantastic.
Amazing,so many beautiful towns.
"Don’t take advantage of my friendship, Corto."
"What’s friendship, but something to take advantage of?"
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Old March 29th, 2006, 01:15 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by tykho

It must have looked really fantastic.
Amazing,so many beautiful towns.
I agree - the castle must have been absolutely fascinating place - more photos of the ruins :

Plan from 1655 :

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Old March 29th, 2006, 04:16 AM   #7
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Thanks Docentx for a top thread.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 08:31 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DocentX
I agree - the castle must have been absolutely fascinating place - more photos of the ruins :
The castle was extremely unique. It had a huge aquarium underneath its glass ceiling. It was described by those who visited the castle as being almost suspended in the air ! It is very hard to construct such an aquarium even today as most aquaria are located at a ground level, not at the top level of any structure. This one was almost under the castle roof so you could stand under it and see the glass bottom which acted as a ceiling for those walking on a lower level.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 12:26 AM   #9
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DocentX, are you sure you're not hired by some polish travel promotion agency? Because what you do is a high level professional tourism promotion. Great thread, as always!
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