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Pułtusk Pułtusk

Mazovian Venice

Pułtusk is one of the oldest towns in Mazovia. It received municipal rights in 1339, but a settlement on the Narew River was established much earlier. Just like many other towns of the region, Pułtusk experienced its golden age in the 15th and 16th centuries. Townspeople gained profits from trade and crafts and the bishops of Płock, who owned the town, made it an important cultural and intellectual center. And it is to this day that both valuable monuments of the past and enthusiasm for artistic events survive.

A rectangular market square is the heart of Pułtusk. Aspiring to be the longest one in Europe, the square is over 400 meters long. Its frontages retain a few classicistic houses from the first half of 19th century. It was apparently here that Napoleon, at the turn of 1806 and 1807, quartered under no. 29 to rest after a successful battle over Russians. The City Hall, standing in the middle of the market, consists of a Gothic eight-storey tower and a neo-classicistic building added after World War II. The City Hall tower houses the Regional Museum. The Museum presents archeological findings from the town and surrounding areas and also an extensive ethnographic collection. Special attention should be paid to fragments of the Pułtusk meteorite, which hit the fields located near the town in the form of a stone rain in 1868. It is estimated that at that time 9 tons of material with a high iron content dropped from the sky.
A Great Medieval Fair is organized at the Pułtusk market square on the first Saturday after the Corpus Christi Holiday. Participants in the event may get acquainted with the secrets of traditional crafts, try their hands at court dances and wear historical costumes. St. John’s Night is also solemnly celebrated every year. The crucial moment of the celebrations is the blessing of the Narew waters. One may also take part in the contest for the most beautiful garland. At midnight the sky over Pułtusk is lit up with fireworks. In September residents celebrate the Pułtusk Patron's Day - St. Matthew's Day. Open air parties and concerts are also the way in which they welcome the coming of autumn.

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin and St. Matthew Basilica is located at the north end of the market square. The Gothic, three-nave temple was built in 1443 by the order of Bishop Paweł Giżycki. Hundred years later the architect Jan Baptysta z Wenecji added a Renaissance side chapel ordered by Bishop Andrzej Noskowski. The same artist undertook the reconstruction of the vault of the main nave and adorned it with a geometric network of interconnected circles. This type of a vault is called the ‘Pułtusk vault” and it can also be found in other churches in Mazovia (e.g. in Brok nad Bugiem). Most of the furnishings of the temple are Baroque. Fifteen side altars, stalls, a pulpit and eight epitaphs of the Załuski family feature the wealth of ornaments.
A visitor to the temple should take a closer look at the frontage. It incorporates a stone resembling a human head. A legend has it that it is the head of a pagan idol. Another legend says that it is the head of a thief who was jammed in the walls of the church while trying to escape with his plunder. Next to the Basilica is a bell tower built in 1507. It was thoroughly reconstructed in classicistic style in 18th century. Two Baroque gates give access to the temple.

Opposite the Basilica, at the southern edge of the market square is a small round chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, commonly called ‘Magdalenka’. This Renaissance Church from the first half of 16th is a rare example of a detached central-plan temple found in Poland.

To the south of the market square one can see the walls and the tower of the Bishops of Płock Castel. It was constructed on an artificial hill surrounded by water, which is the remnant of an earlier, fortified settlement. Pułtusk was a summer residence of the bishop’s court. The first Gothic castle was built in 14th century, but it was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt over centuries. The present building in the form of a polygonal horseshoe was recently reconstructed in 20th century, based on its classicistic appearance from the first half of 19th century. The castle is accessed through an arcaded bridge constructed in the early 17th century by the order of Bishop Henryk Firlej. This Bishop was also a founder of vast gardens extending to the river. Currently, the castle houses the Dom Polonii (Polish Community Abroad House) Hotel and a Conference Center. Luxury hotel rooms, restaurants and banquet rooms provide guests with great relaxation and working conditions. In addition, the castle complex includes a sports area and a marina, where gondolas await romantics and are ready for departure. It's become a tradition that the Dom Polonii organizes solemn Christmas and Easter Holidays as well as wonderful carnival balls.

Muzeum Regionalne (Regional Museum), ul. Rynek 43, phone: (23) 692-51-32

Dom Polonii (Polish Community Abroad House), phone: (23) 692-90-00, fax (23) 692-05-24

More in this category: « Płońsk Węgrów »

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