Explore the historical monuments of Warmia and Masuria
There are less than one hundred and twenty in Poland. The status of “monument of history” is awarded to monuments of particular historical, scientific and artistic value and of exceptional importance for the cultural heritage of Poland. Get to know the sites in Warmia and Masuria that have been recognised as historical monuments.
Frombork – Cathedral complex
The fortified cathedral hill in Frombork on the Vistula Lagoon is the only such well-preserved monument of this kind in the world. It was the first in the region to be granted the status of a historical monument – as early as 1994. The complex, built in the 14th century, consists of the Gothic archcathedral, the bishop’s palace, the vicarage, the defensive walls with towers and the bell tower known as the Radziejowski Tower. In addition to the Gothic architecture, the Nicolaus Copernicus Museum is a magnet for tourists, which presents, among others, memorabilia after the eminent astronomer working here 500 years ago. It was in Frombork that he conducted observations of the sky and completed the treatise ‘On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres’, in which he proved the veracity of the heliocentric theory. More information here and here.
The Elbląg Canal
We will continue our journey with … another historical monument. Built in the 19th century, now the longest navigable canal in Poland, it is famous for its unique technical solutions in the world. The waterway connected Elbląg with Ostróda (length 84 km, with branches approx. 152 km). Five ramps with dry ridges were built to overcome the difference in level between the end points reaching 100 meters. Vessels are pulled along them on trolleys that are propelled by the force of falling water. When we watch the ships on the slipways, we get an impression that they are sailing on grass. During the tourist season, we can take advantage of such a cruise. More information here.
Grunwald – Battlefield
The fields of Grunwald became famous in Polish history as the site of one of the most important battles of medieval Europe. It was the place of a clash between the Polish-Lithuanian-Russian forces led by King Władysław Jagiełło and the armies of the Teutonic Order supported by knights from various corners of Europe. The victory of Jagiello’s army marked the beginning of the end of the Teutonic state. Today, a large-scale re-enactment of the battle is organised every July to commemorate it, attracting tens of thousands of spectators. In addition, the modern Museum of the Battle of Grunwald is open all year round on the Grunwald Fields, where we can visit exhibitions on the clash and its historical context. More information here.
Lidzbark Warmiński – castle of the bishops of Warmia
Kromer, Dantyszek, Krasicki – what do these three have in common? Firstly: they were outstanding writers and their works have gone down in the history of the Polish literature. Secondly: each of them was a Warmian bishop and lived in Lidzbark castle. The Gothic fortress was built in the mid-14th century and was the main bishop’s residence until 1795. Interestingly, it was also here that Nicolaus Copernicus officiated when he served as secretary and physician to Bishop Lucas Watzenrode, privately his uncle. The four-winged building has been preserved in an excellent condition. Its courtyard is surrounded by impressive cloisters, which has earned it the name of the Wawel of the North. Of the castle’s interiors, the most impressive are the Great Refectory and the Chapel of St. George. The building is located at St Anne’s Church with Rococo furnishings. Today, the castle houses the Museum of Warmia, and a stylish hotel awaits visitors in the pre-castle buildings. More information here.
The Shrine of the Mother of Peace in Stoczek Klasztorny
Not far from Lidzbark Warmiński, we can visit a pearl of sacred art, which is the youngest historical monument in the region (as of 2022). The Baroque Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in the 16th century and was later surrounded by cloisters with corner chapels. On the main altar of the church hangs the image of Our Lady of Stoczków, a copy of the Roman image ‘Salus Populi Romani’. The sanctuary complex also includes the former monastery where the communist authorities imprisoned Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński between 1953 and 1954. Today you can see an exhibition dedicated to the Primate of the Millennium. More information here.
Święta Lipka – Pilgrimage Sanctuary
Since the Middle Ages, the Marian shrine in Swięta Lipka has attracted countless pilgrims from all over Europe. According to the accounts, the origins of the shrine date back to the 14th century and it soon became famous for miracles and acts of healing. The heart of the sanctuary is the Baroque Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the late 17th century. Over time, a quadrangle with corner chapels was added to the church. The church is famous for its organ with figures that move as they play. The summer organ concert series attracts numerous music lovers. The main altar is adorned with an image of Our Lady of Swięta Lipka, dating from 1640, which is a copy of the image of Our Lady of the Snows from the Roman church of Santa Maria Maggiore. More information here.
Fot. Bartek w Podróży
In addition to the historical monuments, you will discover the wealth of other monuments in Warmia and Masuria. These include Gothic fortresses and churches, fortifications from the 19th and 20th centuries, charming town houses and rural buildings in open-air museums. It is worth setting out on their trail to discover more pages of the region’s history.
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