North of the voivodship capital Olsztyn, which we will introduce to you in more detail in another article, lies the tranquil small town of Lidzbark Warmiński, the former German Heilsberg. It is less than thirty kilometers from here to the border of the Russian exclave Kaliningrad and for many Poles it seems to be the end of the world. But that was not always the case, because Lidzbark Warminski used to be the capital of its own state! From 1306 until the First Polish Division, Heilsberg was the seat of the prince-bishops of Warmia, a small state whose territories today form together with with the Masuria the Warmińsko-Mazurskie voivodeship.
These are the most beautiful sights in Lidzbark Warmiński
History is one thing, but what is much more important is what can still be seen from that time today. And that is quite a lot, because over the centuries the prince-bishops have commissioned numerous buildings that have survived all these times. And so Lidzbark Warminski, which today has only about 15,000 inhabitants, can now adorn itself with numerous treasures from the past, which we would like to present to you here. This is a matter of the heart for me personally, because I lived here for a few months in 2008.
Castle of the prince-bishops
Lidzbark Warminski was chosen as the seat of the Prince Bishopric of Warmia not only because it was conveniently located on the trade route from Gdansk to Kaliningrad, but also because of its location at the confluence of the rivers Łyna and Simsarna. It was exactly at the point where the two rivers meet that Bishop John I of Meissen initiated the castle with its massive brick walls. Externally, hardly anything has changed since then. You can visit the gothic castle today.
During your visit to the castle, you will come across the magnificent dining room with the coats of arms of the prince-bishops, you can visit the cozy courtyard, look at the golden chapel and even admire modern art. During your visit you will also learn more about the two most famous inhabitants of the castle: Ignacy Krasicki and Copernicus.
Krasicki was not only the highest church father of Poland and prince-bishop of Warmia, but also a writer. His works can be attributed to the Enlightenment and he was a friend of Frederick the Great. In addition to plays, he created, among other things, fables, which Polish children often read in school to this day.
Copernicus is considered one of the most important Poles at all (although there are many in Germany who call him a German). The astronomer lived here for six years and worked as a personal physician for his uncle Lukas Watzenrode. In addition, he also had enough time to observe the stars and the sun from here and created numerous writings.
A unique hotel
Hotel Krasicki is one of the most interesting hotels in Poland and a small sight in itself. South of the actual castle there is another complex which was used by the bishops. Unfortunately it was in a very bad condition for a long time before the hotel bought the area and restored it extensively. The old clock tower is now open again and is also open to non guests. From here you have the most beautiful view of the city. I also took the photo of the Peter and Paul Church below.
The hotel was voted the best hotel in the world in 2011 by Bloomberg in the category architecture. In a wonderful way it has succeeded in combining old and new and you can not only stay overnight here, but also use the historical library, swim in the medieval walls and much more. The hotel also organizes nice canoe trips on the rivers.
Peter and Paul Church
The church with three naves was built in the 14th century and is one of the most popular photo motifs in the city with its bell tower and brick construction characteristic of the region. A special treasure is the organ, created in 1929 by Bruno Goebel from Königsberg (Kaliningrad), which is one of the most important organs in the region and is still preserved in its original state. The interior with its whitewashed walls, the wonderful brick works and the magnificent altar offers you great photo motives. Unfortunately, the original bell is no longer to be seen here today. It was supposed to be melted down in the Second World War and is now owned by the archbishopric of Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany and is currently on display in the Lüneburg State Museum.
Market place and city wall
The small market place of the city is now called Plac Wolności and unfortunately did not survive the war unscathed. Some historical buildings like the town hall still stand here, however, the gaps were filled with prefabricated buildings. This is a somewhat strange sight, but it does provide some interesting motifs.
North of Plac Wolności, a long section of the city wall has been preserved, which has been extensively restored in recent years. If you follow the course of the city wall, you will come directly to the High Gate.
The High Gate used to mark the entrance to the town and is now a popular meeting place, as most of the town’s stores and restaurants are located in its vicinity. There used to be three town gates, but only this one has survived history. The four-story Gothic building was erected in the middle of the 14th century.
There are some interesting details to admire at the back of the gate: When Napoleon conquered the city with his troops (Napoleon himself, by the way, was sleeping in the castle when the fighting was over), the city was first shelled with cannons. Some of the bullets also hit the High Gate, but could not harm the massive building. And so the French bullets are still stuck in the walls, where they were just left in.
Once you have passed the gate, after a few meters you will come to an orthodox church. As you can see in the picture, this church does not look like a typical orthodox church. This is because it used to be a protestant church. The building was personally financed by the Prussian King Frederick William III in the 19th century and apart from the beautiful stone façade, the wooden constructions and emporiums inside are especially worth seeing. Unfortunately the church is often locked, so you have to have some luck to get into the building.
Above the old town, on a hill south of the center, there is a wonderful building with stylistic elements of baroque and classicism, often called Krasicki Palace. Today it houses the municipal library and you can visit the building during the normal opening hours or visit one of the art exhibitions that take place here (Mon-Fri 11am-6pm). Below the orangery there is a well-kept little park from where you have a great view of the church and the castle.
We hope you enjoyed our trip to the far north of Poland. Do you have any further tips or remarks about Lidzbark Warminski? Please let us know and write us a comment here.