In northeastern Poland, you can visit an interesting city that is not widely known to the mainstream tourist. Olsztyn, which stands of the Lyna River, is a land of lakes and forests. The water world of this Polish settlement is in a fabulous harmony with the city quarters. Besides natural treasures, Olsztyn is ready to amaze its guests with perfectly maintained centuries-old architectural landmarks, which have made the Polish city internationally famous. The city hosts various festivals and events every year. In Olsztyn, tourists will also find numerous theatres and galleries with the finest masterpieces of Polish art. Local philharmonic regularly hosts symphonic music concerts.
The first mentions of the city date back to 1334. This is when Henryk von Luter decided to build a watchtower and named it Allenstein. The settlement officially became a town nineteen years later. During its centuries-old history, Olsztyn had to endure many plunders and damages. Kings and administrations were changing frequently. Naturally, these events had a negative impact on the growth and development of the region. The city virtually rose from ashes only in 1818. This was the start of a period of prosperity for Olsztyn. The city finally got a railroad and many governmental establishments.
What landmark should tourists in Olsztyn visit first? The castle, which shares its name with the city, is the oldest building in the area. Thankfully, the gorgeous stronghold has survived to our day. The Olsztyn Castle was built in the 40s of the 14th century. At that time, this was a square-shaped building with just one wing in the north. To protect the fortress, it was decided to build a wall around it in 1505. However, when Warmia became a part of Poland, the Olsztyn Castle lost its former importance. Consequently, it was transformed into a bishop’s residence already in the second half of the 16th century. The bishop was spending every summer in the castle.
At a certain period, Nicolaus Copernicus lived in the fortress. For one year starting from 1520, the famous astronomer worked as the castle’s administrator. Copernicus was in charge of the defense of the Olsztyn Castle during the fight with the Teutonic Knights and the following peace treaty negotiations. Nowadays, the castle exhibits the real uniform that Copernicus was wearing when he was working as the administrator. When exploring the castle, don’t forget to take a look at the exhibition of the local museum. This is a great place to learn more about the history and past of this region of Poland. From time to time, the castle hosts interesting chamber music concerts.
The heart of Olsztyn hides one more wonderful attraction that tourists should include in their vacation plan. This is a gorgeous neo-Baroque building named the Castle of Warmian Bishops. It was a bishop’s residence starting from 1772. Over its centuries-long history, the castle was restored several times. Initially, this was the archpriest’s house. When Warmian bishop started living in the castle in the 20th century, it was decided to rebuild it. This is how the castle got Secession elements and detailed stuccos. In modern days, the Castle of Warmian Bishops is a combination of different architectural styles but this fact doesn’t make the building less attractive. This is a gorgeous architectural landmark that attracts many foreign guests.
Nowadays, the administration of Olsztyn occupies the Castle of Warmian Bishops. The church hierarchs continue living here too. In 1988, the residence received the architectural landmark status and has become an officially protected building. Tourists can get inside only if they have a permit. Unfortunately, there are no excursions in the castle at the moment. That being said, no one prevents tourists from observing and taking pictures of the building outside.
Large Polish cities such as Krakow, Warsaw, Sopot, and Gdansk have a well-established bus connection to Olsztyn. Tourists can also reach the Polish city by bus from large European cities, for example, from London, Brussels, Oslo, Stockholm, and Gothenburg. Olsztyn does have an airport but it can serve only small aircraft coming from the neighboring Polish cities. The daily train from the country’s capital will take to Olsztyn in just two hours.