Do you remember Don Matteo cycling on the roads of Gubbio? Poland has its own priest-detective, who solves crimes. Ojciec Mateusz (Father Matthew) rides a bike in Sandomierz. Together with the local police unit, he became one of the famous TV stars.
Sandomierz is a small town in Eastern Poland with more than 1000 years of history. It is located close to where the river San meets the longer polish river – Vistula (more than 1000 km long). Recently it is frequently visited by fans of “Ojciec Mateusz”.
Here are my 10 tips on what to visit and do to have an unforgettable time.
1. Explore the Old Town
Walk on cobblestone streets and admire all the warm orange and yellow facades. Raise your head and look at the pigeons sitting on the red roofs.
The City Hall from XIV century in the middle of the Market Square has an interesting restaurant in the basement – Lapidarium. Do you want to solve a riddle? Try to find a sundial at its red-bricked walls.
At Bartolona street, in Knights’ Arsenal, you can feel the spirit of the city by trying on historic costumes or knights’ helmets, hauberks or bows.
Don’t forget to take pictures at Ucho Igielne (Needle Ear) – the still existing wicket in the Old Town walls and place of many romantic legends.
More secrets of the city are hidden below its streets and you can unravel them on the Underground Tourist Route. This labyrinth of chambers and tunnels, 500m long and 12m deep, in XV-XVII century served as magazines for tradesmen. Today it is a tourists attraction.
2. Enjoy a view from the top of Opatowska Gate
A great tour cannot happen without climbing some tower. At the entrance to the Old Town, you can visit the Opatowska Gate. Sandomierz used to have four main gates and this is the only remaining one. Inside there is a staircase that brings you 30 m up for a wonderful panoramic view of the city.
3. Visit the Castle
Just 10 minutes walking from the Old Town, along the Mariacka street, brings you to the Castle.
It stands on the slope just by the river since the XIV century. During its long history, it served as the royal residence, a prison, and nowadays as Regional Museum.
4. Go for a walk in the Queen Jadwiga Ravine
The legend says that Queen Jadwiga was the frequent guest in this place. The ravine is almost 500m long and 10m high. It is possible to enter it from St. Pauls’ church and go down or climb up from Świętej Królowej Jadwigi street. The walk is short but unforgettable. The roots of many trees are hanging freely above your head once you’re walking on a yellow sand.
On a hot day the trees give protection from the sun, but after the heavy rain, the ravine changes into a fast stream!
5. Look for Ojciec Mateusz
If you are a fan of Ojciec Mateusz, you can look for any places shown in the movie. The series became so popular, that now it has its own exhibition. It was built using the real elements of scenography. So let’s feel like on a film set and take a photo with the actors’ wax figures.
6. Go on a tour with a golf card.
Tired of walking? No problem. Take a ride on a retro style golf card. You won’t be allowed to drive it, but some nice guide will take you on 1-hour tour around the most interesting sights. Audioguides in multiple languages are usually offered as well.
7. Drink some local wine or cider
The region of Sandomierz has a special microclimate which makes perfect conditions for the cultivation of for example apples. If you are staying a bit longer in the area, exploring the Apple or Wine trail might be a very interesting experience. Even local Dominicans have their own vineyard.
You cannot leave without trying some local specialties.
8. Treat yourself with Polish diamond
It is another name for striped flint, which can be found uniquely in this region. This special stone is used in art and to produce jewelry. Some people consider it even a stone of positivity and give it some magical properties. Unlike real diamonds, it is relatively inexpensive and can be a nice option for a gift or souvenir.
9. Eat some ice-cream and fudge candies
Have you found a nice place to have some ice-cream? Wait! Few steps further you will find another one and another… Seems like it is an ice-cream kingdom. No matter if you like traditional scoops or more twisted ice-cream, for sure you will find what you love. For a bit more traditional flavors you may want to try fudge candies called “Krówka” (Little Cow).
10. Go on a cruise on the Vistula
You can finish your day with a romantic boat trip to see the sunset above the Old Town.
Probably you won’t find much sand in Sandomierz (maybe a bit in the ravine). But for sure you will spend an amazing time in this beautiful Polish city.
Opatowska Gate: http://brama-opatowska.pl/
Regional Museum: http://www.zamek-sandomierz.pl/start.php
Father Matthew: http://swiatojcamateusza.pl/