Polish UNESCO: Zamość

Zamość is the capital of Roztocze region in the south east Poland. Zamość is a charming town renowned for its splendid Renaissance architecture and included in 1992 on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

The brainchild of the powerful magnate Jan Zamoyski and the administrative centre of his landed estate, Zamość was designed by the brilliant Italian architect Bernardo Morando as a model city and a fortress capable of withstanding the attacks of Tartars and Cossacks. It was 600m long, 400m wide and could accommodate three thousand residents, who lived a life of comfort and safety. During the Swedish "Deluge" in the mid-17th century Zamość, Częstochowa and Gdańsk were the only three cities in Poland that never surrendered to the invaders.

Great Market Square

Measuring exactly 100m by 100m, Zamość's Great Market Square was one of the biggest town squares in 16th-century Europe. In its north-western part you can still see traces of a whipping post. The most magnificent structure is the Mannerist-Baroque town hall, built between 1639 and 1651, entered up the famous fan-like stairs below a lofty 52-metre clock tower. Today the building is occupied by the municipality, Tourist Information Centre and a gallery of the Zamość Photographic Association. In summer a bugle call is played daily at noon from the tower, which can be climbed to enjoy a fine panorama of the city.

On the northern side are Armenian houses, the finest in the square, their bright facades featuring decorative friezes, floral or animal ornamentation and ornate attics with distinctively Oriental motifs.

The houses on the southern side are most Italianate in style. They were the last to be constructed, in the early 17th century, except for no. 21, which is one of the oldest buildings in Zamość (1590).

The Cathedral

The Church of Christ's Resurrection and St. Thomas the Apostle is the former collegiate church and one of the most impressive Renaissance ecclesiastical buildings in Poland. It was built between 1587 and 1600 to B. Morando's design. Morando was inspired by the architecture of north Italian churches, which explains the Venetian motifs on the presbytery vault. The interior, divided into a nave and two aisles, is uniform in character, although the slender proportions of the walls indicate the transition from the Renaissance to Mannerism.

Source: Poland - an ilustrated guidebook. For more information look at Pascal

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