10 interesting cities and towns in Poland that everyone should see – part 1

These are 10 interesting and intriguing, yet rather little-known cities and towns in Poland, which are worth considering as one of the destinations during your summer vacation, May trip, long weekend and any other occasion.
These are cities and towns in Poland that you have to see.

In this article we will not consider Warsaw, Kraków, Wieliczka, Biskupin or the Książ Castle. There will also not be Ustka, Świnoujście, Zakopane, Rabka, or the Ojców National Park. We have known for a long time, that these places are beautiful, and eagerly visited by everyone (in fact, some of them might have a tourist overflow. )

We want to show you considerably little-known places, which cannot be found on first pages of websites, travel magazines, or guidebooks; Places that require focus, feeling, and discovery of their mysteries, riddles and fun facts. Some of these places might be often overlooked, and might not need a week, but an hour or two to explore. However, these places will undoubtedly be interesting and proove that Poland is an incredibly beautiful and diverse country.

1/10 Chojnice (pomorskie region)
With 40.000 citizens, Chojnice are settled on the southern borders of the pomorskie region, by the national road number 22. Thankfully, the highway avoids the oldest part of the town, in which quite a few objects have survived, which are evidence of the several hundred year history of the city.

Chojnice were established back in the 13th century, and the city quickly grew up to be an important settlement of this part of Pomorze. In an incredibly eventful time, between the 14th and 16th century, the city changed ownership several times, and the nationsa that were fighting for it were the Polish people, the Teutonic Knights and the Prussian Union. In 1454, Polish king Kazimierz Jagiellończyk miserably failed the battle, although he lead a stronger force than the Teutonic Knights.

Monuments that survived to today from medieval times in Chojnice include the city walls with the Człuchowska Gate, which holds an interesting Historical and Etnographic Museum, and several bastions, which were also adapted for exhibitional and museum purposes, as well as a massive basilic by the calling of the execution of St. John the Baptist.

On the well-kept market square, tourists should pay special attention to the neogothic town hall built in 1902, surrounded by stonehouses, some of which reach with their history back to the 18th century.

Chojnice is also a southern „gate” to the Bory Tucholskie National Park. Baely a few kilometers to the north extends a mighty piece of forests, cut through by the picturesque valley of the river Brda and covered with several lakes: Lake Charzykowskie, Lake Karsińskie, Lake Długie, Lake Ostrowite and Lake Płęsno. The most popular vacation towns in this area include Charzykowy and Swornegacie.

2/10 Złoty Potok (śląskie region)
Złoty Potok, located 30 kilometers away from Częstochowa, is one of the most beautiful and charming town at Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska. A big village, consisting of more than 1000 citizens, with a market square in the pictuesque valley of the river Wiercica, could easily gift a few large cities with its attractions.

The settlement was probably established back in the 12th century. It was owned by many wealthy families, including the Jelitczyk family, the Potocki family, the Silnicki family, the Koyciński
family and the Koniecpolski family. In the 16th century a defensive mansion (castle) was built here, which was falling into ruins until the early 19th century.

In 1851, the wealth was purchased by general Wincenty Krasiński and in the place of the castle he built a neo-classicist styled palace. In 1857, his son, a poet named Zygmunt Krasiński lived here with his family.

The unexpected death of his 4-year old daughter Elżbieta caused the poet to go from Poland to Paris and never return to the country, but 20 years later, Zygmunt Krasiński’s oldest daughter, Maria Beatrix, moved to the palace. She married duke Aleksander Raczyński. And it was the Raczyński family that brought the palace to its greatness. The palace was renovated once again by duke Karol Raczyński in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, the furniture was destroyed during World War II and afterwards. The palace is located in a romantic park with several ponds and impressive trees – oaks, lindens and larches.

The Raczyński residence might be the beginning of a walk down the valley of the Wiercica river from its picturesque springs of Zygmunt and Elżbieta, by the ponds full of trouts, which are an evidence of the existence of one of the oldest fishing farms with trouts in Continental Europe (On August 1st and 2nd there will be a Trout Celebration, the main attraction of which will be culinary shows and an occasion to try trout dishes, and additionally there will be concerts and other events) all the way to the beautiful rocky inselbergs, such as the Twardowski Gate or Diabelskie Mosty (about 4 kilometers away from Złoty Potok), which won’t let you forget at we’re on Jura.

3/10 Przeworsk (podkarpackie region)
This 15.000 citizen town in the podkarpackie region is known by anyone who like travelling ot Ukraine by the A4 highway. It is located on Podgórze Rzeszowskie, between the more known and recognizable Łańcut and Jarosław, roughly 60 kilometers away from the eastern border of Poland, however, it does have a rich hstory and several fine attractions.

The city definitely existed already back in the 13th century – the strategic location by trading routes from the east to the west made it quickly become crucial. The attack of the Tatar, Cossack and Russian armies kept destroying Przeworsk, but in the times of the Lubomirski Consultations, it was revived. Until the 18th century, Przeworsk was a private city, owned in the beginning by the Tarnowski family, later by the Ostrogski family and finally by the Lubomirski family. That family gave Przeworsk its probably most renowned monument – a classicist palace with an English-styled park. Unfortunately, the original interior was looted, but the exhibit of the inside of the palace was recreated here. Meanwhile, in the buildings of the stable, you can explore a unique collection of the history of firefighting, and not far from the palace, the Pastewnik open-air museum is located with wooden buildings from the Przeworsk land.

In Przeworsk there ar more than 60 monumental objects from almost every historical time period. There are surviving fragments of the defensive walls, the gothic is also represented by the collegiate basilic of the Holy Spirit with the Chapel of the Divine Tomb, in which the altar is a faithful replica of the Holy Tomb Basilic in Jerusalem, as well as the chuch of St. Barbara by a Bernardine Monastery. Meanwhile, the baroque period is represented by the church of Our Lady the Snowyin the monastery complex of the Charlotte Sisters.

In the town both secessionist and eclectic stonehouses have been preserved, as well as the wooden weavers’ houses by Kilińskiego street, the so-called walled stonehouses, because their back wall is adjacent to te defensive walls. Przewarsk is also a town which attracts numerous crowds fans of blues music. The annual musical festival has enjoyed huge popularity for many years.

4/10 Krynki (podlaskie region)
Krynki are settled at the end of the world, so far, as it is only possible in Poland; from this village it is very, very near to Belarus. Most of the tourists don’t stop in Krynki, but head straight to the Tatar Kruszyniany.

Krynki most likely wanted to escape from the great history, but they never succeeded. The settlement already existed in the 15th century., but it didn’t gain the city rights until the
mid-16th century. In the 18th century it gained its unique surface layout – after the fires,
Anotni Tyzenhauz designed a six-side market square with twelve radiatingly extending streets. Today it is a unique roundabout on a nationwide scale with a park in the middle.

Since the 16th century, Jews were settling down in Krynki, who in the late 19th and early 20 th century were the majority of the citizens – there were a dozen of cheders, a yeshiva and three synagogues. The Jews were slaughtered or exiled to the Treblinka concentration camp during World War II. The remainings of the Jews are the Kaukaski Beth Midrasz synagogue (currently GOKiS), the Synagogue of the Słonim Chasyds (transformed into an economic building), the ruins of the classicist Great Synagogue and one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Poland (about 3000 matzevot)

The tolerant nature of three relgions Krynki is evidenced in St. Anna’s church and the orthodox church by the calling of the Birth of Our Lady.

In Krynki you can also see quite a few wooden houses, and the town itself (which gained back its city rights in 2009) can be treated as a starting point for a trip to the Knyszyna Wilderness or the Białowieża Wilderness.

5/10 Lwówek Śląski (dolnośląskie region)
The 10.000-citizen Lwówek Ślaski ids one of the oldest towns of Lower Silesia. It is located in the picturesque valley of the river Bóbr, so it might be the beginning or the end of the trip through Wleń, Pilchowice and Siedlęcin. In the middle ages it was an excellently developing town. It gained city rights back in 1217, there were people searching for gold, trade and weaving were blooming and markets were organized. Lwówek was surrounded by stone walls, which entirely survived ot this day, along with the observation towers.

Many people might associate Lwówek Śląski msotly with… beer. The tradition of brewing it dates back to 1209, when Henryk Brodaty gave the town the privilege of the „beer mile”. Today, the beer-brewing traditions are continued by the brewery built in the late 19th century, which enjoys huge popularity, and it undoubtedly creates one of the best beers in Poland
The Old Town has preserved the spatial arrangement with narrow streets and old stonehouses, which are surrounded by plants. In the gorgeous 16th century town hall, which is a mix between gothic and renaissance. You should see the well-preserved, mostly wooden, richly ornamented interiors, like for example, the unique Wedding Room; probably the only place where the witnesses are characters from famous fables.

The most important monuments of Lwówek Śląski include the monastery complex of the Franciscans with the church of St. Francis from Assisi, as well as the epitaphs from the cemetery located by the church. The most precious of them, with plates of the long-time owners of the town, Christoph and Magdalena von Falkenberg were moved to the rooms of the town hall. Several epitaphs can still be found on the wall of the church, and pieces of the destroyed plates were composed within the wall separating the monastery area. In the Płakowice district, which used to be a place of gold-searching, a renaissance castle with beautifulb arcades was built in the 16th century. In those times it was the largest defensive building in the entire Silesia.

It is worth visiting Lwówek Śląski during the earth treasure hunters celebration, a.k.a. Lato Agatowe (In 2015 it will be organized between July 17th and July 19th) It is the greatest ourdoor event in the town. Each year it attracts approximately 50.000 people eager to see the minerals and fossils and gold washers, as well as relax and find something special at the colorful fair.

6/10 Strzelno (kujawsko-pomorskie region)
Strzelno is located 45 kilometers away from Gniezno and barely 15 kilometers away from Kruszwica, and although it is equally strongly associated with the most ancient history of Poland, it is definitely less known and recognizable. For fans of history and sacred art however, it is an obligatory place to visit during a trip to the Piast Trail.

Back in the late 12th century, a Norbertine monastery was established here, and a few decades later Strzelno gained city rights. A few times it hosted Polish kings. It was owned by the Norbertine monastery until the 18th century, and the most important and most precious buildings of the city are associated with them.

On a small hill there are two romanesque churches. In the creme, baroque-styled facade of the Holy Trinity Church there is a priceless treasure: four romanesque columns from the second half of the 12th century, which are one of the most precious monuments of romanesque architecture in the world, and the reason why they are so well-preserved is… for a longer time they were bricked up. The columns carved in sandstone have wonderful ornaments presenting the human flaws and virtues.

The neigboring, characteristic church made from red bricks is a St, Prokop rotunda with two apses and a rectangular presbytery.

Strzelno is located at the Gniezno Lake District, so it can also be a good stop or starting place for a trip to Lake Pakoskie, Lake Gopło or the slightly further Lake Powidzkie.

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