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Olsztyn sights

Modern Olsztyn is the main city of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship of Poland, its capital. The fortunate commercial location between the cities of Torun, Warsaw and Königsberg contributed to its rapid and fruitful cultural, historical and economic development. The beautiful natural landscape, surrounding woodlands and 11 clear lakes occupy most of the city, are its pride. But Olsztyn is a city of castles, museums and other attractions.

History of Olsztyn

The Polish city of Olsztyn is rich with numerous attractions, castles and its ancient history. It began its development in the 14th century. The Grand Master of the Teutonic German spiritual knight order Heinrich von Luther built the first wooden watchtower on the Lyna River in the north of Poland back in 1334. He pursued a policy of colonizing new lands and was interested in building a new city. After the appearance of the tower was actively building a castle, which only in 1353 received its official status as a city and the Magdeburg Law. It was originally called Allenstein, which in German means “city on the river Lyna”.

For 7 centuries, Olsztyn has experienced many wars and was at the center of various historical events, which left a huge imprint in its development, construction of many historic buildings and structures.

Olsztyn sights and attractions

Olsztyn Castle - Poland
Olsztyn Castle

In just 10 years in the middle of the 14th century, Olsztyn Castle was built in the Gothic style, which became the main attraction of the city. It was built in several stages and more than once completed and reconstructed. The castle walls were reinforced with an additional second wall row for defensive purposes, making it an impregnable bastion for enemies.

It was originally the seat of the leadership of the Archdiocese of Varmia. And from 1516 to 1521 in the castle lived the great Polish figure Nicolaus Copernicus. During this period he was city administrator and took the first census of the city’s population. He organized the defense against the Teutonic Order, and then participated in peace negotiations. Grateful citizens, who honor their history, in memory of their famous countryman, erected a monument “Copernicus’ bench”, which many tourists love to touch.

On the famous Alley, laid to commemorate the heroic deeds of the Polish Army in the last century after the end of World War II and the liberation of Poland from the Nazis, built the famous Orthodox Church. It was named in honor of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Previously there was a cemetery, which was then closed. A city park was laid out in its place.

Old Town Hall in Olsztyn, Poland
Old Town Hall

At the end of the 14th century, the Baroque Old Town Hall was built in the central part of the city. As a result of a massive fire it almost completely burned down in 1620. Then within 4 years, its restoration was underway, and the tower was erected. The Town Hall housed the city’s authorities and merchants’ shops. At the end of the war in 1945, the Old Town Hall was once again on fire, but it was quickly rebuilt and a sundial appeared on the facade of the tower. The building is now used as a public provincial library.

The New Town Hall is another of Olsztyn’s most famous landmarks. It was built from 1912 to 1915. It now houses the city municipality. Its exterior decoration is the main city clock and numerous wings. In 1978, the sculpture “Motherhood” by the famous Polish sculptor Kamez Zielinski was installed in front of the main entrance to the New Town Hall.

Cathedral Basilica - a landmark of Olsztyn, Poland
Cathedral Basilica

The patron saint of Olsztyn is St. Jakub. In his honor was built the Cathedral Basilica, which is located in the eastern part of the city. The height of the church tower is 63 m. The church was built in the 14th century, but it has been burned and destroyed many times during the many wars. But the ancient altar, the ark, the crypt of the Holy Cross, some figures of the holy apostles and some wall decorations have been preserved to this day. This cathedral serves as a venue for summer concerts of organ music.

The Viaduct is one of the city’s historic landmarks. It is a group of three-arch bridges over the Lyna. The bridges duplicate each other and are 20 meters high. The viaduct has become a good place to view the city streets and parks.

Wysoka Brama in Olsztyn, Poland
Vysoka Brahma

The main symbol of the city is Vysoka Brahma. This is the ancient defensive High Gate, which now serves as a symbolic entrance to Olsztyn. They trace their history back to 1378 and are 23 m high. They were an integral part of the castle and were used not only for defensive purposes. The city jail was located here for a long time. Now it is used to attract tourists. Thanks to Pope Paul II, a mosaic of Our Lady appeared on the facade of the building in 2003.

Olsztyn Planetarium, Poland
Olsztyn Planetarium

Olsztyn Planetarium and Astronomical Observatory is the memory of grateful descendants to their famous countryman Nicolaus Copernicus. The building was designed by the famous architect Ludmir Goslavsky. And the London artist Stephane Knapp created a portrait of the famous scientist. The idea to build and open the planetarium is timed to coincide with the astronomer’s five hundredth anniversary. There is also a library specializing in literature devoted to astronautics and astrology.

Among the lakes in the open air is the National Building Museum, which has a huge number of different exhibits of craftsmanship: houses, churches, and more. Fans of architecture really like this place.

The Protestant Church of Our Lady Queen of Poland was designed in 1909, but erected only in 1915 in the local military garrison under the direction of the German architect Ludwig Dichmom. It is now a spacious Catholic church, richly decorated with German coats of arms and frescoes on the walls. It can hold more than 1,000 people at a time.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Olsztyn, Poland

Another historical attraction of Olsztyn is the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was built and lit in 2003. It is a Gothic art museum consisting of three high-rise towers with chapels of Our Lady and St. Joseph.

St. Joseph’s Church has become one of the oldest sacral buildings in the city. The church was designed by the Königsberg planner Fritz Heitmann in the Neo-Romanesque style. It has a large main altar and two smaller ones: the Mother of God and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Lawrence Church in Olsztyn, Poland
St. Lawrence Church

The oldest Church of St. Lawrence was built in Olsztyn back in 1500. It is still in operation, and services are being held there. It was built in the Gothic style. The material was red brick. It was originally a place where lepers were cared for.

In the southwest of the city is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. It was built in 1878. In the middle of the last century it was repaired and completed. The main altar depicts Saint Rosary kneeling before the Virgin Mary.

One of the favorite places of the townspeople is the Museum of Nature with a huge collection of animal specimens, which has almost 19 thousand specimens. There is also a library and scientific seminars are held here.

There are other attractions in the city: the Jerusalem Chapel, the Bishop’s Palace, the Evangelical Church of Christ the Savior, the Church of Christ the King and St. Francis.

Video overview of the sights of Olsztyn

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