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Sandomierz: Old Town, Poland

Sandomierz is a beautifully situated town on the Vistula River. This picturesque gem is situated on seven hills, and its old town, which is an architectural and urban complex, is a world monument of history. The origins of the town date back to the 10th century, and its past was turbulent and dynamic. For this reason, there are many attractions that make the place a must-see. It is so interesting that it constitutes the background for the Polish crime series "Father Mateusz". We spent one day here and we didn't manage to visit everything, so we will definitely try to come back in the future.

Parking in Sandomierz near the Old Town

As always, we want to park the car as close to the Old Town as possible. A suitable place seems to be the parking lot at the Sandomierz Castle (P1; GPS: 50.6763673, 21.7479588). Unfortunately, it is not very large, so it is worth using it only when we show up on it really early - otherwise it will simply run out of space and you will have to have a lot of luck to find a free place. Then it is worth to leave the car in larger, slightly more distant parking lots (but don't be afraid - you need to walk only 100 meters along Rybitwy Street and you will find yourself at the intersection nearby the castle) located right under the escarpment on which the old town was built (P2; GPS: 50.6753746, 21.7504358 oraz P3; GPS: 50.6755164, 21.7484178). Even if there was no space there, there is another parking lot at the old port (P4; GPS: 50.6736606, 21.7463240), next to the Sandomierz Boulevards (at the Marszałek Piłsudski Coast), about 500 meters from the center, so let's be honest, it is also not a major problem, isn't it?

We go towards the Market Square

We parked in front of the Castle (it wasn't without problems, as we arrived relatively late) and went the Mariacka Street towards the Market Square. On the right, we pass the statue of Wincenty Kadłubek (famous Polish historian, writer and bishop of Krakow from the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries), as well as the interesting cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which we will visit on the way back. After a few blocks, we appear in the south-eastern corner of the Market Square.

The Market Square in Sandomierz

The Market Square (A; GPS: 50.6791931, 21.7495659) from the 13th century, measuring 120 x 100 meters, surprises with its unusual location and size. It is a bit sloping, so it immediately reminded us of a similar market in the Czech town of Štramberk. Interestingly, some tenement houses are also similarly decorated as in the case of this Czech town. A complete coincidence? Besides, we expected something smaller and here we are dealing with a really large area, in the center of which stands a magnificent building which is the Town Hall, with many interesting details. Its walls have a beautiful, light red color. The local bugle call is played from the tower at 12 noon. In front of the Town Hall there is a late Baroque column with a statue of the Immaculate Madonna and an interesting well in the place where there was a wooden cistern until the 16th century. The tenement houses surrounding the Market Square are neat, colorful, and each of them deserves attention. Many of them have restaurants and cafes.

The Opatowska Gate

After visiting the Market Square, we leave it and enter the Opatowska Street, at the end of which we find very impressive Opatowska Gate (B; GPS: 50.6814417, 21.7494203). The street itself is also interesting as there are many restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. The Opatowska Gate was one of the four gates leading to the town. Currently, you can admire it from the outside, as well as climb it (6 floors) and enjoy the beautiful views from above. The entrance is payable: reduced ticket 8 zł, normal ticket 10 zł (as of 2021). The ticket office is located on the first floor. On the day we visited Sandomierz, there was a long queue to the ticket office, so take into account that you will have to wait a bit.

The Needle's Ear

We return to the Market Square, and then go out the Zamkowa Street. On the way we pass on the left the Ring with Striped Flint. In a moment we reach a very narrow street made of stairs - it is the so-called Needle's Ear (C; GPS: 50.6783441, 21.7477594), which served as an additional entrance through the defensive walls. It is also known as the Dominican Gate because it was used by two Dominican monasteries to communicate with each other.

We go further and turn towards other building of local authority (D; GPS: 50.6782266, 21.7482141), next to which there is an interesting sculpture depicting legends related to Sandomierz. Next to it there is a quiet square with benches. You can sit here and rest. Here you can also shorten your way to bypass the Market Square and head straight towards the House of Długosz, walking along Melchiora Bulińskiego Street, Priest Rewery Street, and finally Jana Długosza Street.

The House of Długosz

The House of Długosz (E; GPS: 50.6769227, 21.7505436) was built in the second half of the 15th century. Its founder was the famous Polish chronicler Jan Długosz. In the nineteenth century, the house fell into disrepair. It was not reconstructed until the 1930s. Currently, it houses the Diocesan Museum with a collection of sacred art. It is surrounded by a very nice garden.

The Goat Stairs

Just a few dozen meters from the House of Długosz there is a vantage point - The Goat Stairs (F; GPS: 50.6768727, 21.7512879). It allows you to have an interesting panorama of John Paul II Square, the bridge and the Vistula River. Of course, you can also go downstairs.

The Cathedral of Sandomierz

The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Sandomierz (G; GPS: 50.6766091, 21.7492311) is a Gothic church built in the second half of the 14th century. Its interesting interior and façade are, however, baroque. It has been a cathedral since 1818, and a smaller basilica since 1960. It is worth visiting the church from the outside first, looking at the interesting walls, and then going inside.

The Royal Castle in Sandomierz

A brick castle (H; GPS: 50.6758326, 21.7470690) was erected by King Casimir the Great in the place of the old castle. Its only remnant is the octagonal tower on the right side at the entrance to the castle grounds. The Renaissance chateau built here was almost completely destroyed during the Swedish invasion. The west wing was rebuilt, which was used during the partitions and later as a prison (there are characteristic small windows). It ceased to play this role in 1959. Since 1986, it houses the District Museum of Sandomierz. A regular ticket to the museum costs 15 zł, and a reduced ticket 10 zł (as of 2021). From the walls of the castle you can admire the panoramic view of the Vistula River.

The Old Port

When we are at the castle, it is worth going to the nearby Old Port and the Marshal Piłsudski Coast (I; GPS: 50.6737604, 21.7483826). We go down Zamkowa Street, cross Krakowska Street and go down Wybrzeże Marszałka Piłsudskiego (where, as we mentioned at the beginning, there is a fairly large parking lot). The place has been nicely renovated; it offers a nice view of the castle and the Vistula River.

The Holy Queen Jadwiga Gorge

A great curiosity of Sandomierz is the Holy Queen Jadwiga Gorge (a natural monument), which, interestingly, is located within the towns limits. You can get to it by leaving the Old Town through the Needle's Ear, and then heading west along Podwale Dolne and Staromiejska streets (J; GPS: 50.6781474, 21.7402075). It is only a 10-minute walk (approximately 600 meters). If you are at the castle, you can approach the gorge from the other side - go down to Krakowska Street, and then, after about 200 meters, enter Świętej Królowej Jadwigi Street. You walk this street less than 100 meters, and then turn right into the path that is the beginning of the gorge (K; GPS: 50.6757391, 21.7435313). The gorge is about 500 meters long. Remember that if you enter it from Świętej Królowej Jadwigi Street, you will be walking a little uphill all the time.

This is a beautiful attraction - the gorge is very charming and impressive, especially on a hot, sunny day. An interesting appearance is given by the yellowish-brownish cliffs visible on both sides. People who are not very agile should watch out for protruding tree roots and uneven surface. Remember that after rainfall, the surface will become soft and sometimes muddy. This is also when mosquitoes may appear.

The Pepper Mountains

The Pepper Mountains (whose name, however, does not come from Sergeant Pepper of The Beatles) are the oldest mountains in Poland. The reserve is located east of the town and is less than 5 kilometers away from it. You can stop at a small parking lot (P5; GPS: 50.6841133, 21.7786139) and then go sightseeing. The mountains (or rather hills) allow you to get interesting views of the town and its surroundings. There are many paths trodden by tourists, as well as several bicycle routes. There are also several species of wild roses here, not found elsewhere.

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