The Old City is the oldest historic district of the city of Zamość and is unique in Poland as an almost perfectly preserved example of 16th-century Renaissance town planning. It was made a Unesco World Heritage site in 1992. The district was named one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments, as designated 16th September 1994 and its listing is maintained by the National Heritage Board of Poland.
The Old City of Zamosc was founded in the 16th century by a wealthy Polish nobleman, Jan Zamoyski (1542−1605), and was modelled on Italian theories of the 'ideal city'. Jan hired a Paduan architect by the name of Bernando Morando to realise his dream.
The layout of the town was supposedly designed to resemble the human body with the palace as its head, Grodzka Street as the spine and side streets, such as Solna or Moranda acting as the arms.
International Trading centre
The city was located on the trade route linking western and northern Europe with the Black Sea and was an important multinational trading centre known for its high level of religious tolerance.
It has retained its original rectilinear street layout and fortifications and a large number of buildings that combine Italian and central European architectural traditions.
Pearl of the Renaissance
The city of Zamość is often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Renaissance’ and the ‘Padua of the North’ and has two distinct sections. To the east is the town, which is laid out around three market squares (the Grand Market Square, the Salt Market Square and the Water Market Square) and to the west is the Zamoyski palace.
The central Grand Market Square is located at the junction of the town’s two main axial streets. Here you will find the magnificent Town Hall, arcaded galleries, restaurants, and old merchants’ houses.
Notable buildings in the Old City of Zamosc include Zamość City Hall, Zamość Cathedral, Zamość Synagogue, Zamojski Academy, and the Zamojski Palace.
The Old Town is surrounded by the remains of the Zamość Fortress.
The park is the largest and one of the most famous English gardens in Central Europe, stretching along both sides of the German and Polish border. It was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on 2nd July 2004. The park also stands as one of Poland's official Historic Monuments, as designated 1st May 2004, and tracked by the National Heritage Board of Poland.
The 559.9 ha landscaped park sits astride the Neisse River and was created by Prince Hermann von Puckler-Muskau from 1815 to 1844 who developed the park around his residence, Schloss Muskau.
The largest proportion of Muskauer Park is located in Poland (3.5 sq km) with the remaining 2.1 sq km within Germany.
Park on Terraces
The castle (Schloss) is situated on the German side of the park, the heart of the park called the. ‘Park on Terraces’ is located within Poland. In 2003 a pedestrian bridge spanning the Neisse was rebuilt to connect both parts.
Muskauer was designed to blend seamlessly with the surrounding farmed landscape, and it pioneered new approaches to landscape design and contributed to the advancement of landscape architecture as a discipline.
Unlike many landscaped parks in Europe, the objective of the park design was to use local plants to enhance the qualities of the existing landscape and to integrate the local town as part of the development using green passages that formed urban parks. It is an example of a cultural landscape in which the site’s natural attributes have been harnessed with the utmost skill and includes a reconstructed castle, bridges, an arboretum, the river Neisse, water features, buildings, forested areas and paths.
Prince Hermann von Puckler-Muskau was the definition of a cad who famously married an older and very rich woman to raise funds for the development of the park, only to formally divorce her a few years later to look for another fortune to finance the garden's maintenance. In the mid-1840s, the prince sold the park to Prince Frederik of the Netherlands to avoid bankruptcy.
Medieval Town of Torun – updated 10 September 2022
The Medieval Town owes its origins to the Teutonic Order, which built a castle in the town in the mid-13th century as a base for the conquest and evangelisation of Prussia. This acted as a catalyst for the growth, importance and popularity of the town and it soon developed a commercial role as part of the Hanseatic League.
In the old and new town, the many imposing public and private buildings from the 14th and 15th centuries (among them the house of Nicolaus Copernicus) are striking evidence of Torun’s stature.
Toruń is a remarkably well-preserved example of a medieval European trading and administrative centre. The city was founded in the period when Christianity was being spread through Eastern Europe by the military monks of the Teutonic Order, and when rapid growth in trade between the countries of the Baltic Sea and Eastern Europe was being spurred by the Hanseatic League.
The Medieval Town of Torun is comprised of three elements: the ruins of the Teutonic Castle, the Old Town, and the New Town, all surrounded by a circuit of defensive walls.
The majority of the castle was destroyed during an uprising in 1454, when the local townspeople revolted against the Teutonic Order. The ruins and the archaeological remains have been excavated and safeguarded.
An exceptionally complete picture of the medieval way of life is illustrated in the original street patterns and early buildings of Toruń. Both the Old Town and the New Town have Gothic parish churches and numerous fine medieval brick townhouses, many of which have retained their original Gothic façades, partition walls, stucco-decorated ceilings, vaulted cellars, and painted decoration.
Many townhouses in Toruń were used for both residential and commercial purposes. A fine example is the house in which Nicolaus Copernicus was reputedly born in 1473; it has been preserved as a museum devoted to the famous astronomer’s life and achievements.
The townhouses often included storage facilities and remarkable brick granaries, some of which were up to five storeys high. Because so many houses have survived from this period, the medieval plots are for the most part still preserved, delineated by their original brick boundary walls.
The Medieval Town of Torun has benefited from numerous renovation projects in recent years, in particular the Old Town area. Buildings, pavements, streets and squares have been painstakingly reconstructed reversing them to their historic appearance.
What to expect from this tour
Leave Warsaw for a day and see the birthplace of Nicolas Copernicus! Let your driver pick you up from your accommodation in Warsaw and visit Torun with a private guide.
Learn about the charming city of Torun, one of the few Polish cities to escape major damage in World War II. Snap pictures of the beautifully preserved Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the Old Town, the New City, and the Teutonic Castle. Admire the city defense walls and fortified towers that form part of the skyline. Learn about the founding of Torun by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century and see the ruins of the castle.
Visit St John's Cathedral, home to the seven-ton Tuba Dei (God's Trumpet), one of the largest medieval bells in Europe. Said to be the place where the world-famous astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, was baptized. Next, choose between following in the footsteps of Copernicus in a visit to his former home turned multimedia museum or check out the Gingerbread Museum, a former factory that popularized gingerbread all over the world. Take a break for lunch during the tour before the return transfer to Warsaw.
Historic Centre of Warsaw – updated 10 September 2022
The Historic Centre of Warsaw is the oldest part of the city. The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Place, which is very popular with tourists and contains many restaurants, cafés, bars and shops. Surrounding streets feature medieval architecture such as the city walls, St. John’s Cathedral and the Barbican which links the Old Town with Warsaw New Town.
World War II
In excess of 85% of the historic centre of Warsaw was deliberately destroyed during World War II by Nazi Germany. A meticulous restoration of the Old Town took place after the war and this included its important religious buildings, the Royal Castle, Old Town Market, townhouses, and the circuit of the city walls. It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.
Where possible, original bricks and decorative elements found in the rubble were reused during the reconstruction, which was not entirely accurate to pre-war Warsaw but more of a mix between pre-war Warsaw and an earlier period. The objective was to reconstruct but at the same time, try to improve on the original.
Old Town Market Place
The 13th century Old Town Market Place was the true heart of the Old Town and until the end of the 18th century it was the heart of all of Warsaw. Prior to the great fire of 1607, the buildings around the square were Gothic in style, after the fire, they were rebuilt in late-Renaissance style.
When approaching the Old Town from the centre of Warsaw, your first view of the reconstructed Old Town is Castle Square, dominated by Zygmunt’s Column, which towers above the beautiful Old Town houses.
Royal Castle Warsaw is an exceptional copy of the original red-brick castle, which was destroyed by the Germans in WWII. The very first version of the castle was actually a wooden stronghold dating back to the 14th century built for the dukes of Mazovia and since then it has been the residence of Polish kings in addition to being the home of the president and also the seat of parliament.
Historic Centre of Krakow – updated 09 September 2022
The historic centre of Krakow has been featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1978. Packed full of restaurants, museums, galleries and bars, the medieval layout of the Old Town has not changed for centuries.
Main market square
The heart and focal point of the historic centre of Krakow is its graceful main market square, the largest medieval town square of any European city.
Most visitors to Krakow visit the market square with its Cloth Hall, the Church of the Holy Mary, Wawel Hill and its Royal Castle, Wawel Cathedral with its outstanding Renaissance chapel, the Barbican and St. Florian’s Gate.
Wawel Royal Castle
Wawel Royal Castle and the limestone Wawel Hill are extremely important historical and cultural sites containing one of the most important collection of buildings in Poland. Wawel was once the seat of Polish rulers, the residence of kings and the focal point of many Polish historical events. The hill is a symbol of the Polish nation and has witnessed some of the greatest moments in Polish history. Many Polish kings have been laid to rest below Wawel Cathedral.
The Jewish quarter of Kazimierz features a wealth of Jewish heritage with its 16th century cemetery and seven synagogues of which one is now the Jewish Museum.
The historic centre of Krakow was once surrounded by a 3km long defensive wall complete with 46 towers and seven main entrances. Today only a fragment of the old fortifications remains including the Florian Gate, the Barbican and a few towers.
The historic centre of Krakow is bisected by the Royal Road, the coronation route traversed by the Kings of Poland. The Route begins at St. Florian’s Church outside the northern flank of the old city walls in the medieval suburb of Kleparz; passes the Barbican of Krakow built in 1499 and enters Stare Miasto through the Florian Gate. It leads down Floriańska Street through the Main Square, and up Grodzka to Wawel, the former seat of Polish royalty overlooking the Vistula River.
The Riese Complex was a Nazi Germany construction project from 1943 to 1945 consisting of seven top-secret underground structures located in the Owl Mountains and Książ Castle in Lower Silesia.
The actual purpose of the project remains unclear and Riese remains one of World War II’s greatest mysteries mainly due to a lack of documentation. Some historians suggest that the structures were planned as a network of underground factories and the tunnels below Książ Castle were to house an HQ element, perhaps an addition to Hitler’s collection of reinforced command centres.
Two things are certain, the size of the project was immense and none of the constructions were finished. Only a few tunnels were reinforced with concrete. Project Riese was abandoned at the initial stage of construction and only 9 km (25,000 m2, 100,000 m3) of tunnels were dug out.
A massive network of roads, narrow gauge railways and bridges were constructed to connect excavation sites with the nearby railway stations. In total, some 90,000 cubic metres of tunnels were carved into the mountains, the work involved to do this was strenuous and involved cutting down thousands of trees, building dams, digging reservoirs and drainage ditches, blasting rocks with explosives and reinforcing caverns with concrete and steel.
Seven major access points were constructed to separate tunnel systems at Walim-Rzeczka, Włodarz, Jugowice, Soboń, Sokolec, Osówka and Książ Castle.
To build these giant structures, the Nazis used prisoners of war, prisoners from concentration camps and forced labourers. Many of these workers lost their lives due to disease, malnutrition, exhaustion & dangerous underground works.
Initially, concentration camp prisoners were not used; however a typhus epidemic occurred amongst the workforce in December 1943 significantly slowing down production. Hitler handed over supervision of construction to Organisation Todt, headed by Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect and engineer and around 13,000 prisoners of the camps were put to work, many conscripted from Auschwitz concentration camp.
Interestingly, Albert Speer himself stated that the Riese Project involved some 213,000 cubic metres of tunnels. Today, less than 100,000 are accounted for, suggesting that there are many tunnels and parts of the project still to be discovered. This is technically supported by the existence of narrow-gauge railways and plumbing that appear to lead nowhere, witness accounts also support this account.
113,000 cubic metres of undiscovered tunnels and a lack of documentation as to the purpose of the project has led to numerous conspiracy theories over the years. The favourite is that the tunnels were constructed to hide confiscated Nazi treasure including the famous Amber Room which disappeared from Saint Petersburg and missing gold and art from multiple locations around Europe. An area outside Wałbrzych was the focus of a story about a buried ‘Nazi gold train’ in August 2015 and today, the areas still attracts treasure hunters in search of their fortunes.
Let yout guide take you along the track of the biggest secrets of World War II in Lower Silesia. See The Osowka complex, which is a part of Nazi Riese Project and Gross-Rosen concentration camp.
The Osowka complex has been part of an impressive project conducted by Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1945 (code name “Riese”). The mysterious structure called “underground city” still hasn’t revealed all of its secrets. Discover the biggest and the most complex of Hitler’s headquarters in Lower Silesia. This complex is believed to be Adolf Hitler’s secret headquarters built in the Owl Mountains. This part of the tour is with live guide.
Ksiaz Castle is the third largest castle in Poland, placed on a impressive rock cliff by the side of the Pelcznica River. Surrounded by a charming forest which lays 395 meter above sea level, this castle is often called ‘the Pearl of Lower Silesia’. This part of the tour is with audio guide.
Lastly you will visit the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, the biggest Nazi-German concentration camp in Lower Silesia, where inmates worked in particularly harsh conditions in the quarries. The motto of this place was Vernichtung durch Arbeit (Annihilation through work). Around 40.000 prisoners died here: Poles, Jews, Russians, French and Hungarians. This part of the tour is with live guide – Book tickets
Subcarpathia (Podkarpackie) is located in the south-eastern corner of Poland and has the city of Rzeszów as its administrative capital. The region is one of the greenest provinces in Poland with nearly 36% of the area being protected. The protected elements are mostly woodland including remnants of ancient primeval forest.
National & Landscape Parks
Within Subcarpathia, there are two National Parks (all of Bieszczady National Park, and parts of Magura National Park) and eleven Landscape Parks.
Whilst exploring the region, you’ll find hundreds of kilometres of tourist trails. The area is extremely popular with hikerswho come to the province to enjoy the scenery and fauna, which includes lynxes, wildcats, wisents and golden eagles to name a few.
There are over 1,750 kilometres of cyclingroutes with varied levels of difficulty in Subcarpathia. Experienced cyclists are attracted by the routes in the Bieszczady, Low Beskid and Slonne Mountains. The Green Velo Eastern Cycling Trail is popular with beginners and families with children.
There are many tourist attractions in the province including historic and heritage sites. The Wooden Architecture Route comprises 9 trails and has a total length of 1202 km. It leads to 127 landmarks of wooden architecture, such as churches, tserkvas, open-air expositions, complexes of small-town buildings, manor houses and palaces. Of particular notice are the jewels of wooden architecture recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
Krasiczyn Castle is more of a palace come stately home than a castle and is beautifully photogenic, the kind of place where young girls dream of marrying their Prince Charming. Whitewashed walls, turrets and an arcaded courtyard all help to give Krasiczyn that Cinderella feeling.
The City of Glass
No trip to Subcarpathia is complete without a visit to Krosno, known as, “The City of Glass”. Check out the Glass Heritage Centre. In the past each and every Polish household had some glassware from Krosna in their home.
Holy Cross Province (Swietokrzyskie) is located in south-eastern Poland and has the city of Kielce as its regional capital. Often referred to as, “The heart of Poland” the region is home to the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and Świętokrzyski National Park.
Holy Cross Province isn’t the biggest in Poland at only 11,700 square kilometres but it is very popular with tourists. In addition to the National Park, there are nine Landscape Parks to explore and a multitude of other attractions.
The Świętokrzyskie Mountains are not particularly high; however, they are ancient. Quartzite has been discovered in the area that is 500 million years old. The highest peak is Mount Łysica at 614 m and is located within the Świętokrzyski National Park.
Łysa Góra at 595 m is the second highest mountain in the region and is known locally as Święty Krzyż (Mount Holy Cross). If you believe local folk legend, during Pagan times, witches practiced their dark arts on Mount Łysiec. The mountain is also home to The Sanctuary of The Holy Cross Wood Relic. Today, you can see remains of a 9th century stone rampart surrounding the top of the mountain in addition to the Benedictine monastery with its Relics of the Holy Cross Tree. The 1000-year-old monastery is managed by the Missionary Oblates.
Within the region, you will find Poland’s first Jurassic Park, the Bałtów Tourist Complex, which contains a 1 km long educational path with 100 life-size models of dinosaurs, the Jurassic Museum, the Prehistoric Oceanarium, a zoo and the Sabathówka Witches’ Village.
Other popular attractions include: the Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia, which aims to maintain the most valuable monuments of rural and small-town housing in the Kielce Region and present them in an environment similar to the original. The museum exhibits an interesting collection of horse-drawn vehicles.
Kielce has a history back over 900 years, and the exact date that it was founded remains unknown. It is a lively city centred on the Rynek (the main square), the cathedral, the remarkable Palace of the Kraków Bishops, and a pretty expanse of parkland surrounding both of them.
Opole (Opolskie) is Poland’s smallest province at just 9,400 square kilometres; however, it packs a punch for its size and is a treasure trove of attractions for tourists. The province is rich in culture with famous castles and palaces, lots of historical sites and an abundance of beautiful lakes and rivers. The capital of the region is the city of Opole.
Opole is located in southern Poland and around 15% of the one million inhabitants of the voivodeship are ethnic Germans (that’s 90% of all ethnic Germans in Poland). Ethnic Germans first came to this region during the Late Middle Ages because the area was once part of the Prussian province of Silesia. As a result, the German language is co-official in 28 communes.
Opole province is a green region and has the warmest climate in the country. It has three Landscape Parks, Opawskie Mountains, Góra Świętej Anny and Stobrawa and three large lakes, Turawskie, Nyskie, and Otmuchów. Lake Turawskie can be reached by bicycle from Opole and is an ideal location for boating or kitesurfing, fishing for pikeperch or birdwatching from the lake’s sandbanks or lagoons.
Lake Nyskie, a reservoir on the River Nysa Kłodzka with a view onto the Opawskie Mountains and Czechia’s Rychlebské hory, is the perfect place for sunbathing, camping, angling and boating, particularly during summer season.
Popular tourist attractions in the region include the Silesian castle in Brzeg, built during the reign of the Piast dynasty, the Franciscan monastery on top of Saint Anne Mountain and the medieval defence fortifications in Paczków (referred to as the Upper Silesian Carcassonne).
Museum of the Silesian Piasts
The Silesian castle in Brzeg was initially a stronghold. Today it is the Museum of the Silesian Piasts, among other exhibits, the museum houses Europe’s largest collection of gravestones of a single dynasty.
Another castle of note is the fairy-tale castle in Moszna; which was allegedly once inhabited by the Knights Templar.
JuraPark Krasiejów is the world’s only museum standing on an active palaeontological dig and here you can take a journey back in time and view almost 200 models of 70 species of Mesozoic amphibians and reptiles. The Palaeontological Pavilion houses Europe’s biggest fossils from Triassic amphibians and reptiles, viewed through the glass floor.
The Central Museum of Prisoners of War in Łambinowice is a unique place commemorating the prisoners of the three POW camps that operated within the local military training ground. The first camp was set up by the Prussians for French POWs during the Franco-Prussian War. During World War II, one of the biggest Wehrmacht POW camp complexes existed here: Stalag VIII B, Stalag 318/VIII F and Stalag 344. After the war, part of the complex was used by the Polish Security Service (SB) as a labour camp where Germans and Silesians were held before being displaced from Poland and former members of Nazi organisations were imprisoned.
Wooden Religious Architecture Trail
The Wooden Religious Architecture Trail will take you from Opole across Opole Silesia to a total of twelve charming old churches, among them a top-class historical site: St. Anne’s Pilgrimage Church which is based on the outline of a five-petal rose.
Lower Silesia was handed back to Poland from Germany at the end of WWII and is known for an abundance of historic architecture of various styles. During the Middle Ages, the region was part of Piast-ruled Poland and was one of the leading regions of the country with its capital Wrocławbeing one of the main cities of the Polish Kingdom.
Castles & Palaces
Within Lower Silesia, you will find many castles and palaces, well preserved or reconstructed old towns, numerous spa towns, and historic burial sites of Polish monarchs and consorts. The region is one of the most visited provinces in Poland.
There’s over 100 castles and palaces in the region including: Książ Castle, Czocha Castle, Grodziec Castle, Gola Dzierżoniowska Castle, Oleśnica Castle and Kamieniec Ząbkowicki Palace.
Książ Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the province due to its mysterious underground tunnels. During World War II, Ksiaz Castle was taken over by the occupying German forces and following Hitler’s direct orders, a system of tunnels was constructed underneath the castle and surrounding areas. In 2018, a 1.5km section of the tunnels was opened to the public as a tourist attraction and a 45-minute tour is available.
Other attractions in Lower Silesia include: Kłodzko Fortress, Fort Srebrna Góra, Wambierzyce, Legnickie Pole, Henryków, Lubiąż Abbey, Krzeszów Abbey, Oleśnica Mała, Vang Stave Church, Churches of Peace, Sokołowsko, Cave Bear, Museum of Gold Mining and Metallurgy in Złoty Stok, Coal Mine in Nowa Ruda, Museum of Industry and Railway in Jaworzyna Śląska, Skull Chapel in Czermna, Mount Ślęża, Table Mountains, Owl Mountains, Karkonosze, The Main Trail Sudetes, Barycz Valley Landscape Park and connected with the history of World War II – the tunnels of Project Riese, a German Gross-Rosen concentration camp, German War Cemetery and Park Peace in the Nadolice Wielkie.
The most widely visited city is Wrocław, a city with a unique architectural and cultural make-up, symbolised by its magnificent market square. The Festival of Good Beer is held here every year, on the second weekend of June.