Zamość: Poland’s hidden secret
Hidden away in South-Eastern Poland and about an hour’s drive away from the nearest city, Lublin, is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old city of Zamość. The city was founded in the sixteenth century by a Polish nobleman, Jan Zamoyski. He designed the city from scratch with the main square in the centre with two small markets on each side of it. Over the years some of the city was destroyed (but not much) during the Russian invasion in the nineteenth century but somehow was untouched by the Nazi Germans in the Second World War. On my day trip from nearby Lublin, this is what I found in this small and beautiful old city.
How to get to Zamość
The easiest way to get here is by car, as I found public transport isn’t that great. From Lublin I caught the train which there are only a few trains a day. The one I caught was first thing in the morning from Lublin and returns late in the afternoon. This was the best option and only gave me several hours in the city. If anyone is interested, the nearest airport is Lublin then Warsaw.
Zamość: what the city has to offer
The walk from the train station towards the old city is a nice brisk walk and the first thing I saw was the fortress walls. These were built from day one but over time the walls were expanded and the old city became the fortress I see it today. The walls did there job impressively as Zamość was attacked many time but has never conquered (until the Nazi Germans came along and basically walked in as well as the Soviet Union’s Red Army who had the city for a very brief time during the Second World War).
The top area to check out is the Rynek Wielki (Wielki Square) and is one of the most beautiful squares I have come across in Poland. The town houses and arcades surrounding the square are simply wonderful to look at. I found out that the houses were built by Armenian traders who made the city their home. They were rich, so to express their wealth, they decorated their homes with sculptures and painted the facades in bright colours. The heart of the square is the town hall where there is a beautiful staircase directly in front of it.
To the west of the main square is the Cathedral of the Resurrection and Saint Thomas the Apostle. From the outside it just looks like another boring and bland place of worship, nothing to speak about but once I stood inside the cathedral, the place was full of gold and silver. Somehow over the centuries, the city and the cathedral was never raided, so all the decorations I saw here are the originals. I am even surprised when the Nazi Germans were in the city that they never took the treasure and got rich.
Very close by is the Arsenal museum where a lot of armoury is displayed and a lot of information on the city during all the wars it has been involved in. Also there are underground tunnels which go from one bastion to another which visitors can walk through (but I was unlucky and they were closed the day I came to Zamość.
I really enjoyed my short day out to Zamość and after checking out the main square, cathedral, walking around the fortress, checking out all the other churches and a few animals in the zoo from the roadside (which is opposite the railway station), I came away from here with very fond memories. I can tell in the summer months a lot of people would use Zamość as a base and go hiking and cycling in the surrounding countryside. The old city can easily be done in a day and has to be hit up. I am really surprised that Zamość isn’t that well known to people outside Poland but seriously, this is one of the most beautiful I have come across in Poland.