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Sanctuaries, palaces and manor houses, namely areas around Sochaczew

Sanctuary of Our Lady Immaculate and of St. Maksymilian Kolbe Sanctuary of Our Lady Immaculate and of St. Maksymilian Kolbe

Paprotnia – Niepokalanów – Szymanów – Guzów – Sochaczew – Giżyck

Shrines, palaces and manor houses, old churches and interesting museums - all of this is awaiting us near Sochaczew.

To get here from Warsaw we get on route no. 2 towards Poznań. The first stop we make is in Paprotnia. We can see an old inn and a smithy from the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Currently, the building of the smithy houses a restaurant, and further there are buildings with a hotel and a swimming pool.

To get to Zajazd Napoleoński Inn one must leave the Poznań highway to get on the route to Niepokalanów. We follow it to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady. From the road you will see a modernist church, which was completed in 1954. Two mosaics show the baptism of Poland and the martyrdom of St. Maksymilian. Next to the church is a museum of St. Maksymilian Kolbe, who had been associated with Niepokalanów for several years. It is very easy to reach, because signs pointing to the buildings are located everywhere. The museum pavilion features memorabilia devoted to the Saint and the history of the monastery. A lot of photos and documents are presented here. It is interesting what great emphasis St. Maksymilian attached to the press and publications. Kolbe created a great Catholic media center in Niepokalanów, unparalleled throughout the world. It included: a publishing, press, radio and it own printing house. A special room features missionary memorabilia of the monks.

The wooden chapel features a cell where the Saint lived. It is surprising in its simplicity and modesty: a metal bed, a bowl, a desk, a chair - and that's all.

The sanctuary has a bookstore with the publication of Franciscan fathers, who attach great importance to the mass media even today. Niepokalanow TV is the evidence of this fact. Following the same road we reach Szymanów, which boasts the shrine of Our Lady Jazłowiecka. The neo-Renaissance palace and the park is owned by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. It was built in 1902 for Prince Konstanty Lubomirski. To this day the nuns conduct a female boarding school here. The Pope declared Mother Marcelina Darowska, the co-founder of the Order, blessed in 1996. The headquarters of the Order were in Jazłowiec near Buczacz. The sisters had to flee from this place in 1945. They brought the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary Jazłowieckiej with them. Nowadays it is located in the main altar, which was added to the palace chapel.  The very successful combination of the old palace with modern chapel seems surprising. The interior impresses with modernity and a huge sense of taste at the same time. A park and very well-kept garden surrounds the buildings. Right behind the wall, across the street, is baroque parish church built in 1667.

Palace in GuzówThe next goal of our journey is Guzów. Leaving Szymanów first go towards Bolimowo, and after reaching road no. 50 - towards Żyrardów. Guzów is situated before Żyrardów. We can admire a magnificent palace here, reminiscent of those found in the Loire. One cannot see it from the road as it is covered by the sugar plant buildings. The first wooden mansion was built here as early as 1599. In 1765 a composer Michał Oginski was born in the local manor house. In 1797 Feliks Lubieński purchased the estate; he was the future Minister of Justice of the Duchy of Warsaw. In 1827 Łubienski founded a factory, and in 1880 rebuilt the palace based on the design by W. Hirschel. The park was established in 1894. A chapel was built at the same time. The palace in its present form was established in 1895. Today, only the chapel is renewed, the palace is falling into disrepair.

We go along road no. 50 to Sochaczew, where we can see the ruins of the castle and visit two museums.

Sochaczew is one of the oldest towns of western Mazovia. It originated as a trade settlement, situated at the intersection of trade routes, running from the west to the east and from the north to the south. The stronghold was an important defensive bastion of this region. In 1286, the attack of Lithuanian-Ruthenian troops was resisted here. In 1377 the Duke of Siemowit III convened the meeting of the dukes of Mazovia here, during which they established a new set of rights for Mazovia, called "Mazovian statute" or "Sochaczew statutes". In 1410 Sochaczew witnessed the army of Jagiełło on its way to Grunwald. The city experienced the biggest boom in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In 1563, 211 craftsmen worked here. Sochaczew was stunted in the seventeenth century, but its total collapse took place during the Swedish invasion. Until the partitions it was merely a small trade center and a place where local councils of the nobles were held. Then the Jewish population began pouring massively into the city. The city and the castle was again destroyed during the Kosciuszko Uprising. During the First World War, from December 1914 to July 1915, Sochaczew was a scene of fierce fighting; the line of Russian-German front, passed along the rivers of Rawka and Bzura. In September 1939 it became the object of bombing, and between 13 and 16 September fierce battles took place in the area. These were a part of the battle of the Bzura. After the town was occupied, Germans murdered all the Jews, who constituted one quarter of the population. The headquarters of AK of the 'Skowronek' district were located in Sochaczew, which covered the entire county. The soldiers fought in the Kampinos Wilderness and in the Warsaw Uprising.

The old town hall located at the Kościuszko square houses the Museum of the Sochaczew Land and of the battle of the Bzura River. It features exhibits related to the Second World War. One can see primarily the weapons, equipment, uniforms, and documents of soldiers fighting at the Bzura in September 1939. You can also see documents and photographs showing the history of Sochaczew and the surrounding area during the Nazi occupation. The courtyard features a museum of the militaria and the fighting equipment of the Polish army. The ground floor is a space for temporary exhibitions.
    
Only ruins remain of the castle located behind the park across the street. Built in the days of Duke Siemowit III in the fourteenth century - in place of the old wooden castle - it was destroyed during the invasion of Lithuanian-Ruthenian troops. Since 1476 it had been the seat of Sochaczew starosts. Before 1630 it had been completely rebuilt by starost Stanisław Radziejowski. Soon afterwards it was destroyed by the Swedes. Restored in the years 1789-1790 it was soon afterwards destroyed again during the Kosciuszko Uprising by the Prussians. It has been deteriorating since then. Only walls of the western elevation with window openings, fragments of southern and eastern façade and remains of the partition walls survived. An amphitheater with a concert bowl is located at the foot of the castle hill.

Lovers of narrow gauge railways will certainly spend much time in the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum. The largest collection of narrow gauge vehicles in Poland is gathered here. It has over one hundred steam engines, locomotives, trolleys and wagons. The most interesting ones include the so called Piłsudski coach, a horse railway wagon, a 'Warsaw' trolley, a platform for the transport of ammunition, and a military parlor car, and the oldest narrow-gauge locomotives in Poland from the years 1882-1883. From June to September on Saturdays - no matter what the weather is like - the 'Retro' train operates. Additionally, in July and August, the train also runs on Wednesdays. The train leaves exactly at 10.00 a.m., and it gets to Wilcze Tułowskie at about 11.15. Until 11.45, tourists have the time to walk along the Kampinos paths. Then the train to Tułowice departs and we get to our destination after nine minutes. Nearly two hours are devoted to a bonfire. The train from Tułowice to Sochaczew departs at 13.44. The arrival is scheduled for 14.50. It is also possible to run the train upon request.

Leaving Sochaczew we get on road no. 577 towards Łącko to get to Giżyce. This is where a Gothic church from 1440 and a palace of the second half of the nineteenth century are located. The church is nicely renovated. In the years 1945-1951 the Palace housed the People's University, and since 1951 it has been home to an Orphanage.

Practical information:

Warszawa – Paprotnia – Niepokalanów – Szymanów – Guzów – Sochaczew: 75 km. A total of 150 km.
Niepokalanów - 2 hours, Szymanów - 1 hour, Guzów - 1 hour, Sochaczew (museums) - 3 hours, a trip by train to Tułowice - 5 hours.

Accommodation:

Kuźnia Napoleońska Hotel, Paprotnia, ul. Sochaczewska 5, phone: (46) 861 52 13, www.kuzniahotel.pl

Dom Pielgrzyma, monastery in Niepokalanów, Teresin Commune, phone: (46) 864 21 31

Chopin Hotel, Sochaczew, ul. Traugutta 21, phone: (46) 862 59 99, www.hotelchopin.pl

Sonata Hotel, Chrzczany 34, Sochaczew, www.hotel.sonata.oit.pl, phone: (46) 862 31 92

Restaurants:

Wiktoria Restaurant, Sochaczew, ul. Reymonta 16, phone: (46) 862 12 39

Zajazd Jubilatka Inn, Paprotnia, ul. O. Kolbego 38, phone: (46) 861 38 31

Bar Fryderyk, Kożuszki-Parcel, gm. Sochaczew, phone: 501-658-698, www.restauracja-bonvoyage.pl

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