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At the Liwiec River

Cieszkowski Manor in Sucha Cieszkowski Manor in Sucha

Sucha – Wyszków – Liw – Węgrów – Stara wieś

Beautiful green areas east of Warsaw. Accompanied by trucks we follow road no. 2 towards terespol, and then get on road no. 697 towards Liwia. We take a right turn in Grębkowo. We will visit a private open-air museum visit in Sucha. It's hard to find it as there is no signpost anywhere, yet the buildings can be seen when going by the road. Its owner - Professor Marek Kwiatkowski - gathered antique wooden buildings here. Works on the on the reconstruction of other buildings are still in progress. Built in Sucha in 1743, the large, larch mansion of the Cieszkowski family was the first one to be  restored to its former glory. It is a baroque, one floor building, with corner alcoves at the side of entry. Stanisław August Poniatowski visited the manor in 1787. It was also the birthplace of a known philosopher August Cieszkowski, who was born here in 1814. The facility has been completely renovated. The interior features a variety of Biedermeier and eclectic furniture of the nineteenth century, paintings, trinkets from the era, which reproved the climate of the Polish nobleman manor. A beautiful Dutch stove draws particular attention. The museum features two other manors, which are planned to be used for conference purposes. Other elements of the museum include village cottages, an organist house, a presbytery, a mill and an inn. One can peek into those buildings through windows. The interior features various old objects.

Then we go to Wyszków on Liwiec, which boasts the parish church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, founded in 1788 by the former owner of the village Aleksander Maciej Ossoliński, the Great Lithuanian sword-bearer. It is a late-baroque church. Its facade features a foundation plaque and the Ossolinski family coat of arms- an ax. The church was built in such a way that it closes the entire space.  The interior is maintained in the Baroque-Classicist style. Other interesting elements include brick roadside shrines with statues of saints, from the late eighteenth century.

As we leave Wyszków we go to Liwia. Hard to believe as it may seem today it was once the capital of the Liwia land. The earliest mention of Liwie goes back to 1279. It was at that time that the Liwie castle was attacked by the Yotvingians. Archaeological studies have demonstrated that the old settlement was located 5 km up the Liwiec  river in the place of the present-day town of Grodzisk. The construction of the present castle in Liwiec was initiated before the year 1429 by Niklos, a bricklayer, at the initiative of the Masovian Duke Janusz I the Elder. It was built on an artificial island, among the swamps and the Liwiec river floodwaters, at the border of the duchy at the time. Since 1526 Duchess Anna Mazowiecka, the last representative of the ruling Piast dynasty, had ruled the castle. She ordered the building of the gate tower and raising the defensive walls. Further expansion was conducted under the supervision of Queen Bona, who took to power in 1536. The building was destroyed as a consequence of the Swedish wars. The castle is practically invisible from the road. Moreover, a signpost leading to it was placed exactly at the turn, so one has to be careful not to miss it. What one needs to do is to turn into a field road. All that is left of the defensive building (built in the fifteenth century) are the gate tower, the vaults and part of the walls. It looks pretty amazing, since the starost of Liwia Tadeusz Grabianka added a Baroque house to the ruins in 1782, which burnt down around 1850. In the years 1942-1944 the occupiers reconstructed the building. E. Gramss, the German governor of the Sokołowsko-Węgrowski district intended to dismantle the castle ruins for its brick to build the extermination camp at Treblinka. Otto Warpechowski, who convinced the starost about the Teutonic origins of the castle and led to its reconstruction, prevented him.

A museum-armory is located inside. It features a collection of Sarmatian portraits from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, of military from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries and of battle painting. The collection of weapons includes such exhibits as: firearms and a collection of 105 bayonets.

Knights' tournaments, held in front of the castle, have recently become very popular. The most famous one is, of course, the August tournament 'For the Ring of Duchess Anna Mazowiecka'. If you manage to stay up until midnight you may see the Yellow Lady.  It is the specter of the innocent Ludwika Kuczyńska, who was accused of treason and beheaded.

While in the castle, you might want to go down to the nearby Liwiec river. It winds among the meadows.

Liw is four kilometers away from Węgrów. Węgrów received municipal rights in 1441, and the Mazovian Duke Bolesław IV granted these. Between 1444-1569 the city was part of Lithuania, after 1569 it was incorporated into the Crown. Since 1593 it had been a possession of the Radziwiłł family (their coat of arms was the Trumpet). Known from the movie "Swedish Deluge", Duke Bogusław developed the weaving industry here by bringing Scottish clothiers.  The city was sacked and burned during the Swedish invasion. In 1664 Węgrów went into the hands of the Krasinski family. Later on, the owners changed frequently. One of the major battles of the January Uprising took place here on February 3rd 1863.

Now we're approaching the Market. This is where a baroque Lesser Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints Peter and Paul is located. The temple was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century, probably based on the design by Tylman z Gameren. The entire building is adorned with two Gothic towers from the earlier church. One can admire interesting frescoes of the Italian painter Michelangelo Palloni.

If the basilica is closed - we can go to the parish priest - as though frescoes can be watched through glass doors it is only in the sacristy that we can see the famous mirror of Twardowski and the Sarmatian portraits. A legend has it that it was the sorcerer Twardowski himself who owned the mirror. The sorcerer evoked the ghost of Barbara Radziwiłłówna for Zygmunt August in the mirror, and Napoleon saw his defeat at Moscow there as well.

Another object of interest to be seen in Węgrów is the Reformed brick church, from the years 1693-1715. It is a late Baroque building, built by the team of Carl Ceroni. Inside one can admire the frescoes by M.A. Palloni. The furnishings dates back to the eighteenth century. The temple is located at Kosciuszko street, which departs from the Market.

Let us now go to Starawieś. The settlement had different names: in 1473– Jakimowicze, and in the eighteenth century– Krasny Dwór. It belonged to the Radziwiłł, Krasiński, Świdziński, Ossoliński, and Jezierski families. A Russian duke Sergiusz Golicyn acquired the estate along with the hand of Maria Jezierska in 1840. Since 1879 it had once again become the property of the Krasinski family. In the years 1912-1944 it belonged to the Radziwiłł family.

The palace is located in the middle of the village. It was originally Baroque and surrounded by bastion fortifications. Duke Golicyn rebuilt it in the English neo-Gothic style.  It is from this period that park in the English style comes - with an irregular system of avenues, romantic bridges, canals and two ponds. Today the Polish National Bank owns it, but it is made available for training purposes to other institutions, organizations and businesses. The gate is closed for security reasons. However, you can ring the bell as there is always a chance to visit the palace complex.

Practical information:

Warszawa – Sucha – Wyszków – Liw – Węgrów – Starawieś: 110 km. The total distance is 220 km.
The open-air museum in Sucha – 1,5 hours, Wyszków – 1 hour, Liw – 1 hour, Węgrów – 1,5 hours, Starawieś – 1 hour.

Accommodation:

Everest Hotel, Węgrów, ul. Żeromskiego 21, phone (25) 792 66 16, 535 921 711, www.everest-ikar.pl

Krasnodębski Hotel, Węgrów, ul. Gdańska 80, phone (25) 792 27 27, www.hotel-krasnodebski.pl

'Nad Liwcem' camping, Węgrów, ul. Żeromskiego 24, phone (25) 792 26 68

Agritourism farms: www.agroturystyka-modr.mazowsze.pl

Restaurants:

Kameralna restaurant, ul. Rzemieślnicza 1, Węgrów, phone (25) 792 53 95

Zajazd na Mostach Liwskich Inn, Węgrów, Al. Solidarności 44, phone (25) 792 31 57

'Domek' restaurant bar, ul. Mickiewicza 4, Węgrów, phone (25) 792 02 02

Zosia Pizza House, ul. Rynkowa 4, Węgrów, phone (25) 792 54 84

Liwia restaurant, ul. Nowomiejska 48, Liw, phone (25) 792 57 32

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