Along the Pilica river bank
One of the most scenic Mazovian trails runs along a steep slope of the Pilica river valley in the vicinity of Warka. Hiking along this route gives also the possibility to visit interesting Warka monuments, and in autumn to taste delicious apples from local orchards.
trail distance: 15 km
marking: starting with red marks, then the green trail, no marks at the end
difficulties: quite an easy trail; narrow path by the Pilica river can get slippery after the rain
public transport – to: train from Radom or Warsaw, from: bus to Warsaw or Kozienice
0.0 km train station in Warka
The red trail goes from in front of the train station towards the town centre.
1.7 km market place in Warka
Having a picturesque location on the high Pilica river bank, Warka received its civic rights at the beginning of the 14th century. The town, favorably situated on the merchant trail going to Little Poland, flourished at the end of the Middle Ages. At that time Warka was already, famous for its beer – probably that’s where its name comes from. Apparently, in the 14th century, the pope Clement VI, who had been a nuncio in Poland before taking over The Holy See, took a great liking to beer from the local brewery. On his death bed he whispered „Biera di Warka”. Priests gathered around the bed thought he meant a saint so they started a prayer: “Santa Biera di Warka ora pro nobis”. Hearing that, the pope laughed and the ulcer that caused the illness burst. And that’s how the Warka beer saved the dignitary’s life. The local brewery has been well-known to this day, not only in Mazovia. The town of slightly over seven thousand population is also the centre of the orchard region.
By the square market place, there is a classical townhall from the first half of the 19th century. The building was designed by Hilary Szpilowski. There are plaques commemorating war events fixed to the town hall facade. In front of the fire station building there is a historic trolley. From the marketplace the red trail goes to the crossroads with the Kozienicka street.
2.0 km St. Nicholas Bishop’s Church
St. Nicholas Bishop’s Parish Church was constructed at the beginning of the 17th century but, due to numerous reconstructions, it has lost its original character. Among the church’s interiors interesting late-Renaissance altars have been preserved together with some historic paintings and sculptures. The red trail turns towards the bridge over the Pilica river. Go along Franciszkańska street.
2.3 km The Franciscan Church
By the former track leading to Winiary, an interesting baroque shrine draws attention. On a tall quadrate pedestal there is a round pillar. Such shrines constitute a typical component of the landscape surrounding Warka.
On the right-hand side you can see the most splendid building of the town which is the post-Franciscan monastic complex. A decorative portal leads into the two-tower baroque sanctuary. Inside the attention is drawn by baroque altars and rococo pulpit. According to tradition, there are Mazovian princes buried in the church’s basement: Trojden I, Ziemowit II and Danuta Anna, wife of Janusz I.
It is worth to go from below the church to the nearby cemetery. On your way, you will go past more historic shrines. In the cemetery try to find the grave of Piotr Wysocki. The leader of a group of officer cadets, who started the November Uprising, after 29 years of hard labor in Siberia managed to come back to his home town Warka…
3.0 km Winiary
Follow the green trail down Franciszkańska street. The signs will lead you to the Winiary district. The local mansion called the White Palace was built at the end of the 17th century according to the design by Augustyn Locci. On the 4th of March 1747, Kazimierz Pułaski was born here; later he became a participant of the Barska Confederation and a hero in fights for The United States independence. The mansion serves as the seat of the museum collecting souvenirs connected with Pułaski and other Poles involved in United States issues. Due to revitalization of the palace and park complex, since 2009 the museum exhibitions have been temporarily closed (ul. Pułaskiego 24, administration open Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, tel. 48 667 22 67).
The palace is surrounded by a well-kept scenic park. There are three impressive Oaks within its area. The largest one’s girth equals 440cm; it is over 250 years old. It has been called “Pułaski”. Moreover, the attention is drawn by magnificent Lime-trees. One of them is called „Kościuszko’s Lime-tree”. When you go past an impressive Kazimierz Pułaski monument, descend towards the Pilica river valley. On the way you will pass several ponds using water from springs that jet from the slope, and picturesque heavily overgrown oxbow lake. Further along the road squeezes through orchards at the slope’s foot.
4.0 km sewage treatment plant
You leave the sewerage on your left. Meadows you cross are yellow with dandelions in May. The trail reaches the slope and leads further down a narrow path through a bush-covered slope. It might get slippery after rain.
5.5 km Old Warka
Again you descend onto willow-covered meadows by the Pilica river. The village lies on a high slope cleft by an erosive ravine. In order to commemorate the battle against the Swedish, it was called the Czarniecki’s Ravine. In Old Warka there used to be an early Middle Ages dwelling which gave rise to the town a few kilometers away. The only thing that survived from the original dwelling is an earth bank several dozen meters long. The rest was washed away by the high water stage.
The path goes further along the slope. It climbs the orchard-covered height just to descend almost at once towards meadows. This section has got poorer marking but the Pilica river on the right is the best sign-post. From the slope, there are gorgeous views onto the Kampinoska Forest stretching far away. A little closer, one can see towers of the neo-Gothic church in Rozniszew.
8.0 km Pilica
In the Middle-Ages the Pilica river fed into the Vistula at this spot – hence the name of the village. The slope turns north marking the brink of the Vistula valley. It is accompanied by the green trail. Behind the village the path descends from the height and runs through the meadows by the Pilica river.
11.0 km Ostrołęka
The village name refers to its location on „ostrowa” – a dry island amid boggy meadows. In the 15th century the owners of Ostrołęka, the Ciołkowie, obtained by begging civic rights for it. However, the town soon fell into decline and to this day Ostrołęka has remained a peaceful village on the Pilica riverside. This is where the Medieval strongman, Stanisław Ciołek, came from. As Jan Długosz wrote, he managed to pull a bell up the tower of the Cracovian Mariacki Church all by himself; the achievement that forty men did not handle. There are not many historic relics in Ostrołęka. However it is worth to take notice of the 19th century fencing of the cemetery decorated with Evangelists’ shrines at its corners.
If you left your car in Warka, you can finish your hike here and go back by bus.
The trail now goes straight northward and soon reaches the flood Pilica river terrace. You will have the opportunity to admire the picturesque oxbow lake. The path runs through Poplar and Willow wetlands. This forest gathering typical for large river valleys depends on river inundations which fertilize soil every year. Because more rivers are regulated, natural riverside forests become rarer. Behind the large oxbow lake the trail goes up the floodbank.
13.0 km arrival
The green trail runs further to Czersk (18.5 km) and the Kalwaria Mountain (27.5 km) but you had better allow a separate excursion for it. Within one kilometer the Warsaw - Kalwaria road is visible. Once you get to it, turn left.
15.0 km Ostrówek
You will catch a bus going to the Kalwaria Mountain, Warsaw or Kozienice.
Warka: the Pułaski hotel (with a restaurant), ul. Warszawska 45, tel. (48) 667 24 21
Warka: wayside inn in Winiary (with a restaurant), ul. Turystyczna 3, tel. (48) 667 26 76, (48) 667 50 43
Warka: The hotel Sielanka over the Pilica river (with a restaurant), ul. Łąkowa 1, tel. (48) 666 16 00