The Old City of Zamosc is a planned town from the Renaissance with blended Central European and Italian architecture.
The city was built from 1582-1591 by the Paduan architect Bernando Morando, on the instructions of chancellor Jan Zamoysky. He named it after himself. The new town was populated by merchants from all nationalities, religious tolerance was shown to attract people and an academy was founded.
The town also had an imposing fortress, of which now only little survives. It was built between 1579 and 1618, also by Zamoysky and Morando.
Map of ZamoscLoad map
Hidden in what nowadays is the Eastern border region of Poland Zamosc is a well preserved Baroque fortification town. It was built by an Italian architect from Padua. While there may be Italian influences, to me it felt Eastern European, similar to Nesvizh.
The most memorable spot is the colorful old market square (Rynek Wielki, photo). When I came much needed renovations were ongoing as the state of preservation was not great. In addition there are plenty of fortifications to explore. Just outside the fortifications to the North West you find the lovely Park Miejski.
Zamosc is tucked away in a rather remote corner of Poland. Be prepared to spend some time to get there if you plan to visit from Poland's touristic hot spots (Cracow and Warsaw). Myself, I came from Rzeszów where I had visited some of the Wooden Churches of the region. To get to Zamosc I had to make a major detour and change in Lublin. Luckily, Lublin has a nice old town as I had to spend a few hours waiting for my connecting train.
The next day I left Zamosc for Ukraine. Unfortunately, the bus from Warsaw to Lwiw/Lvov/Lemberg does not stop in Zamosc, even though it passes through. I had to take a local bus to Tomaszów Lubelski first, an unmemorable border town on the border, where I boarded the bus to Ukraine.
As always: Use e-podroznik to research your travel options in Poland.
While You Are There
On both sides of the border with Ukraine you find Wooden Tservkas. If you travel between Zamosc and Lviv the easiest option is to do a short stop in Schowka. Apart from the church, Schowka also has a big ruin of a synagogue and a palace. The state of preservation if poor, though. From Schowka it's fairly easy to continue to Lviv (North) by local bus.
This incredible city of Renaissance layout, designed by an architect from Padua in the late sixteenth century, is a destination not to be missed. It's a little shifted from traditional tourist routes, but it is worth making a detour. Simply gorgeous and unmissable.
The centre of the town of Zamosc seemed like a minature of the Stare Miasto in Warsaw. But the features of this WHS that made it different were the extensive city walls and fortifications, and the Rotunda.
Built as part of the town's defences, thye Rotunda bacame infamous during WWII as a transit camp and execution site. The communists continued that tradition during their years of oppression. Now it is at the centre of a cemetery, as a memorial to the victims. Each of the cells contains relics of a different atrocity.
Zamosc is just waiting for the tourist crowds to re-discover its renaissance charm but with its remote location my guess is that he tourist boom will have to wait for a while. It takes quite some time to get to Zamosc and what was once a perfect location on the trade-route between Lvov and Krakow/Lublin today requires somewhat of a detour to the south-eastern tip of Poland. And it's not making it easier that the only train in the Cracow direction leave Zamosc at 5 in the morning....
The town was founded by Jan Zamoyski in the late 16th century and has been described as the Padua of the North, The Town of Arcades or the Pearl of the Renaissance. Personally I could not agree less. The main rectangular square is dominated by the pink town hall and flanked by three-level burgher's houses, where the Armenian merchant houses take the beauty price.
Zamosc is one of those towns were you just aimlessly wonder round, hour after hour enjoying the place and that you are here right now. After having visited Zamosc you hereby have my strongest recommendations for a south-eastern Polish detour!
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