Discover the Warmia of Copernicus
The famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), who revolutionised knowledge of the Solar System, was born in Toruń, studied in Cracow, Bologna and Padua, gained his doctorate in canon law in Ferrara, but linked his further career and life to Warmia. It was here that he spent as many as 40 years, and it was here that he died and was buried.
Today, the Copernicus Route (which has a pedestrian and a road version) leads through towns and cities associated with the scholar’s work. The most important towns on the trail are Frombork (where Copernicus spent almost 30 years), Lidzbark Warmiński (almost 7 years) and Olsztyn (almost 4 years). Wandering along the trail, we will also reach other towns that Copernicus visited, including: Lubawa, Orneta, Pieniężno, Braniewo and Elbląg.
At first, the scholar stayed in Lidzbark Warmiński, where he acted as secretary and physician to the Warmian bishop Łukasz Watzenrode, his uncle. He lived in the local bishop’s castle, which is now one of the most valuable monuments of Gothic architecture in the country. In later centuries, such important figures for Polish culture as Stanisław Hozjusz and Ignacy Krasicki also resided here.
Due to its impressive architecture, the building, erected at the mouth of the Symsarna River into the Łyna, is very impressive. It now houses the Museum of Warmia, where we can see exhibitions related to Copernicus and other famous inhabitants of the castle.
In Lidzbark Warmiński it is also worth taking a stroll through the streets with colourful tenement houses, visiting the Gothic church of St Apostles Peter and Paul, with its 70-metre-high bell tower, and seeing the baroque-classicist Krasicki Orangery, now called the Orangery of Culture.
While holding the office of administrator of the Warmia Chapter estate, Nicolaus Copernicus lived in the Olsztyn castle belonging to it. As part of his official work, the scholar travelled extensively in the area, including locating new settlers in villages and collecting taxes. But he also conducted scientific research in Olsztyn. A memento of this is an astronomical chart he made with his own hands, used to show the apparent movement of the Sun on the days close to the spring and autumn equinoxes.
At present, the castle houses the Museum of Warmia and Mazury, which presents, among other things, a rich exhibition devoted to the residence and activities of Copernicus. A bronze statue of Nicolaus Copernicus in the form of a bench was erected near the entrance to the castle. After taking a souvenir photo with the astronomer, it is worth taking a trip along the cobbled streets of the Old Town, along which he once also walked.
Fot. Grzegorz Kumorowicz
Frombork is picturesquely situated on the banks of the Vistula Lagoon. Here, in addition to holding a number of official posts, Copernicus conducted research into the heavens and wrote his eternal work “On revolutions”. The city is dominated by Cathedral Hill with the Gothic Archcathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Andrew. It is the largest church in Warmia. After Copernicus’ death, his mortal remains were laid to rest under its floor.
Today, the buildings of the Cathedral Hill complex house the Nicolaus Copernicus Museum, which includes a planetarium. Outside the complex, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, which houses an interesting exhibition of the museum’s medical department, is also worth a visit. Frombork’s summer attractions include cruises on the Vistula Lagoon.
Nicolaus Copernicus was a great astronomer, who "stopped the sun and moved the Earth." Even though he lived five centuries ago, he continues to generate a lot of interest to this day. We still care for the legacy of his life and work. Copernicus' connections with the region of Warmia and Masuria (he lived and worked in Warmia for nearly 40 years) are the motivation behind the creation of local research centers and tourist attractions.Find out more
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