A Guide to Zamość

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Information about the town


Titbits from Zamość history.

Amritha in The Guinness Book of Records

Foto: Marek Jawor

Amritha in The Guinness Book of Records

Amritha - the largest painting in the world, entered into The Guinness Book of Records, was painted in Zamość in September 1994, during a UNSECO international symposium on World Cultural Heritage in Central and Eastern Europe.

The painting was created by The Performer Theatre, established by local artists, members of the Dudziński family: Paweł Dudziński, his wife Bożena and their children, one of whom, Sambor Dudziński is a singer and artist of Polish and world renown.
The area of the painting was 17 830 square m and it was painted by 10 artists, who used 1300 kg of emulsion paint, 500 kg of dry pigment and 200 kg of chalk.  

The Guinness Book of Records from 1997, under the heading "Fine Arts " contains the following entry: “The largest painting - happening was created in Zamość in September 1994 on the initiative of Paweł Dudziński. The 20 thousand square m painting featured a sun, circles, roses and naked silhouettes and was painted on an asphalt surface in the centre of the town. 10 painters, actors and musicians  participated in creating  “a magic and abstract  painting” entitled Amritha; they used 2 tons of paint.

The largest collection in Poland

Foto: bwagaleriazamojska.art.pl

The largest collection in Poland

The Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych Exhibition Gallery has the largest collection of illustrations in Poland.

The collection consists of over 3 thousand illustrations of such well-known artists as Janusz Stanny, Olga Siemaszko, Krystyna Michałowska, Józef Wilkoń, Teresa Wilbik, Zbigniew Rychlicki, Elżbieta Gaudasińska, Tomasz Borowski, Zdzisław Witwicki, Elżbieta and Marian Murawscy, Antoni Boratyński, Wiesław Majchrzak, Waldemar Andrzejewski, Andrzej Strumiłło, Michał Bylina, Franciszek Maśluszczak and many others.  
Every year the BWA Exhibition Gallery holds Polish Open-Air Workshops for Illustrators and invites the best illustrators, who have been inspired by the work and lives of such famous Polish artists and celebrities as Henryk Sienkiewicz, Władysław Reymont, Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, Stanisław Wyspiański, Aleksander Fredro, Marek Grechuta, Bolesław Leśmian and Jan Zamoyski. Some of these workshops were devoted to the disappearing architecture of Zamość Region, Roztocze nature, fairy tales and legends.

The works are often borrowed and presented at other exhibitions in Poland and abroad.  

The Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych Exhibition Gallery also organises and coordinates the participation of Polish  illustrator teams in successive editions of Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava.

A Legend of the Swedish Table

 In fact, a legend of the Swedish table is not really a legend, since legends are usually very old and have been repeated since time immemorial. This legend has been made up quite recently by Henryk Szkutnik, an enthusiast of Hetman’s Town from the Zamojskie Museum in Zamość.

 According to the new legend the first Swedish table reception, i.e. a reception during which guests eat standing, took place under the walls of Zamość fortress.  In 1656 the fortress was besieged by Swedish troops during the Swedish Deluge described so vividly by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Swedish king Charles X Gustav, accompanied by an army consisting of 18 thousand troops and 40 cannons and the commander of Zamość fortress Jan Sobiepan Zamoyski, the founder’s grandson, looked at each other sternly across fortress walls. Soon the Swedes realised that they were not going to achieve anything using force (they killed one ox and scared off a flight of pigeons in the Rynek) and decided to use deceit to enter the fortress. Pretending that he was going to abandon the siege, the Swedish king invited Zamoyski to have a farewell breakfast with him.

Zamoyski realised that although Charles X Gustav was his enemy, he was also a king and he had to accept the invitation. However, Zamoyski did not want to invite the enemy to the town. Finally, he had an idea: he decided to have breakfast with the king under the fortress walls.

Servants set the table and brought all kinds of delicious dishes. However, sly Zamoyski provided no chairs for his Swedish guests. Consequently, the king had to eat holding his plate in his hands and swallowed not only the delicious food but also an insult offered to him by the town.
"Since that time, a meal eaten in erectus, i.e. in a standing position has started to be called a Swedish Table, says Henryk Szkutnik. The Swedes obviously pretend that they do not know this story and sometimes deny it outright. No wonder; they feel ashamed that their king was affronted in such a way.

In three directions

Marek Jawor

In three directions

Every noon from May to September a trumpeter assumes his position at the top of Zamość Town Hall tower. It was the same in the day of Jan Zamoyski, the town’s founder.  Interestingly enough, the trumpeter plays the bugle call in three directions only. Legend has it that the Hetman forbade the trumpeters to play the call towards Kraków because he had taken offence at Kraków townspeople for sentencing  Samuel Zborowski to death. The reason provided by historians is less interesting; they claim that the bugle call was simply played towards the three gates of the town.

Kazimierz Szady and Krzysztof Wiatrzyk are the current trumpeters.

A camp follower awarded the Order of Military Virtue

Joanna Żubrowa (1771 (or 1786) - 1852) was not born in Zamość and did not live here, either. However, she became a Zamość heroine and was the first woman in Polish history to have been awarded the Order of Military Virtue.

It was the beginning of the 19th century and a call to arms to a new Polish army of the Duchy of Warsaw was sent out. Joanna and her husband Maciej sold their farm in Volhynia without hesitation and enlisted in the army. In order to hide the fact that she was a woman, Joanna passed herself off as her husband’s younger brother. Her secret was soon revealed but she was allowed to go on fighting. She fought against Austrian invaders together with Napoleon’s army. On the night of May 1809, when Zamość fortress was being stormed by Polish troops, Joanna led a small group of grenadiers. She was the first to have forced her way through a secret passage in the Lubelska Gate occupied by Austrians clearing the way for other troops. In the morning the town was free. Joanna was promoted to the rank of a sergeant for her bravery. Prince Józef Poniatowski rewarded her with the Order of Military Virtue.

More details about this woman’s unusual life can be found in a book by Wacław Gąsiorowski entitled "Huragan" (1902).

Poor Katarzyna

A legend about poor Katarzyna

She is one of Zamość ghosts; dressed in a white gown, with a red mark around her neck, she wanders round the back streets of the Old Town during warm May nights.
Katarzyna was Zamość town administrator’s wife. In May 1664 she was accused of witchcraft and beheaded in front of Town Hall stairs. Before her five other women, also accused of witchcraft, had been decapitated. Pursuant an order passed by the local court the women were to have been burned at the stake but “thanks to His Lordship’s mercy the verdict was changed to death by decapitation”. His Lordship was Jan Sobiepan Zamoyski.

Before her terrible death, the administrator’s wife made the following prophecy: "Because justice has not come from the palace, the building will house a court, which will remain there for many years to come. By the time this year is over the proud Entailer will have been summoned before the court of God. And he will leave no descendants. And black clouds will hang over Zamość."

As a matter of fact, on 4 April 1665 the Third Entailer Jan Sobiepan Zamoyski was suddenly taken ill. He died suffering torment a few days later, on Easter Monday, leaving no descendant and heir. When Poland became independent the palace became a seat of the local court.

A web portal ZamoscOnline held a competition for a story of poor Katarzyna. Karolina Zdeb, a resident of the town won the competition and described the story of poor Katarzyna. Every year an amateur Zamość Theatre Group stages a performance during which the trial and execution of Katarzyna are presented.

Zamość six-groszy coin

Zamość six-groszy coin

The Commander of Zamość fortress general Maurycy Hauke gave the following order 200 years ago: “Zamość 23 November 1813. (…) 1330 Austrian copper coins were taken from Municipal Treasury and Captain Machnicki had 1330 six-groszy coins made from them; the value of the newly mint coins is 266 Polish zlotys. (…) The monies are to be used to pay the defending troops for six days of service; the rest of the money is to be used to pay civil servants and Russian prisoners immediately (…)”.

The contemporary six-groszy coin issued by the Zamojskie Museum commemorates another historical coin used over 200 years ago. Its obverse features an image of Hetman Jan Zamoyski, the town’s founder and on its reverse there is Zamość coat of arms  (St. Thomas the Apostle) inscribed into the town map.

The coin is based on an old copper six-groszy coin minted in Zamość fortress in 1813, when the town was besieged by Russian troops. At the end of the siege the municipal treasury was empty. The Commander of the fortress together with the Fortress Defence Council decided to set up a mint in the town and strike some money. The six-groszy coins were made from Austrian six-kreutzer copper coins from 1800 and from molten silver objects, which came from a closed down Franciscan monastery. In all, 1330 coins were made and their value was 266 Polish zlotys. Silver 2-groszy coins were also made at that time.

Wheel of history

foto. Sławek Nadra

Wheel of history

History never ends, which is clearly shown by the history of Hetman’s Town. The town, which was founded by the Zamoyskis and owned and managed by the successive members of the family for the next two hundred years is now managed by their descendant, Marcin Zamoyski, son of the last Sixteenth Entailer Jan Zamoyski. Several dozen years ago nothing seemed to suggest that it would happen; Marcin Zamoyski’s father was not only dispossessed of his whole property but he was forbidden to live closer than 30 km form his family estate. Now his son returns to his family’s tradition by reconstructing part of ancestral estate.

Marcin Zamoyski was the Mayor of Zamość in 1990 for the first time.  Then he was elected mayor again in 2002 and 2006. In the meantime he was also Zamość Province Governor and President of the Town Council.

The oldest orchestra in Poland

Foto: www.namyslowiacy.pl

The oldest orchestra in Poland

The name of the orchestra was Polish Peasant Orchestra for many years but recently it has been changed to Symphony Orchestra. It is named after its founder, Karol Namysłowski, who set up the orchestra in November 1881. At first it was a folk band and musicians were local peasants from Zamość neighbourhood, trained by Namysłowski and his successors. Nowadays many outstanding musicians not only from Zamość are part of it.  The orchestra had the following conductors: Stanisław Namysłowski, Czesław Kęstowicz, Zbigniew Pawelec, Józef Przytuła, Ryszard Zańko, Adam Kowalczyk and Wojciech Sandler, to name just a few. Since 2008 Tadeusz Wicherek has been the conductor. The orchestra gives concerts not only in Zamość and in many other Polish towns but also abroad, cooperating with the most outstanding Polish musicians and singers. It is the organiser of Festival of Italian Culture „arte, kultura, musica e…”, The Marek Grechuta Festival and Days of Music in Zamość.  It has staged a music performance  entitled The Haunted Manor to Stanisław Moniuszko’s music and has issued a CD entitled Polish Golgotha with works devoted to Pope John Paul II.  

The official website of the orchestra: www.namyslowiacy.pl


Foto: wikipedia.org


Zamość Collegiate Church and the Church of St. Catherine are both unique and do not serve as places of worship only. These real gems of Hetman’s Town were also used as secret treasuries in 1939. At the beginning of the Second World War national mementoes, such as gold from Poznań and the priceless Gutenberg Bible printed in 1453 and brought here from the basilica in Pelpin were hidden under the church floors and in the corners of their ancient walls. The most famous treasure hidden in Zamość was a painting by Jan Matejko entitled Prussian Homage. Rolled and placed in a tin pipe, the huge work of art (388 x 875 cm) was hidden in the vault of the Church of St. Catherine by Rev. Wacław Staniszewski.

What views … from up there

Foto: Robert Litwiniec

What views … from up there

Cathedral bell tower is a must for every visitor. The effort put into climbing up the stairs of the 18th century building  situated next to the Cathedral is rewarded with magnificent views. It is the best place to take a look at the Old Town, with its enchanting tenement houses, the Town Hall glistening in sunlight and the beautifully restored defensive walls. Almost within arm’s reach there is a monument to Jan Zamoyski, featuring the dignified Hetman on horseback; it was designed by a famous sculptor from Kraków Marian Konieczny, the author of the Nike monument in Warsaw. Behind the monument there is the Zamoyskis’ palace with the greenery of municipal park, which seems to surround the Old Town.    

Those who wander about the back streets of Zamość and fail to look at the Pearl of the Renaissance from above miss a lot.

The bell tower itself, built in Baroque style according to Jerzy de Kawe’s design is quite interesting. It offers visitors another attraction, i.e. a possibility of looking at and listening to the sound of three ancient bells. The oldest of them, called Jan was founded by Jan Sobiepan Zamoyski in 1662. The other two also have proud-sounding names; one is called Tomasz and was founded by Tomasz Józef Zamoyski in 1721 and the other one, called Wawrzyniec was donated to the town in 1715 by Rev. Wawrzyniec Sikorski, Zamość dean.

Those who manage to get to the Town Hall tower can call themselves really lucky since the gate is opened only occasionally. They do not get to the very top, located 52 m above the surface of the Rynek, but end their climb a bit lower. In spite of that the view from the tower is magnificent and besides the Old Town visitors can also see half of the Roztocze region. When the weather is good (in fact, Roztocze has the largest number of sunny days in Poland) field stripes cut with baulks, forests and towers of village churches as well as picturesque landscapes are clearly visible from the tower.