Siddhesh Joshi (Editor)


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25,714 (2006)

200 m

28.8 km2

Sandomierz in the past, History of Sandomierz

Map of Sandomierz

Sandomierz (pronounced: [sanˈdɔmʲɛʂ]; Yiddish: Sandomir סאנדומיר‎) is a town in south-eastern Poland with 25,714 inhabitants (2006), situated in the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship (since 1999). It is the capital of Sandomierz County (since 1999). Sandomierz is known for its Old Town, which is a major tourist attraction. In the past, Sandomierz used to be one of the most important urban centers not only of Lesser Poland, but also of the whole country.


Sandomierz in the past, History of Sandomierz

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The name of the city might have originated from the Old Polish Sędomir, composed of Sędzi- (from the verb sądzić "to judge") and mir ("peace"), or more likely from the antiquated given name Sędzimir, once popular in several Slavic languages. Sandomierz is known in German: Sandomir; Latin: Sandomiria; Yiddish: צויזמיר‎; Hungarian: Szandomir; Ukrainian: Сандомир or Судомир; Russian: Сандомир; and Czech: Sandoměř.

Early history

Sandomierz is one of the oldest and historically most significant cities in Poland. Archeological finds around the city indicate that humans have inhabited the area since neolithic times. The city came into existence in the early Middle Ages, taking advantage of an excellent location at the junction of Vistula and San rivers, and on the path of important trade routes. The first known historical mention of the city comes from the early 12th-century, when the chronicler Gallus Anonymus ranked it together with Kraków and Wrocław as one of the main cities of Poland. The testament (ca 1115-1118) of Bolesław III Wrymouth, in which he divided Poland among his sons, designated Sandomierz as the capital of one of the resulting principalities, the Duchy of Sandomierz.

In the course of the 13th century the city suffered grievous damage during raids by Tatars in 1241, 1259 and 1287. The old wooden buildings of the town were completely destroyed. As a result, in 1286 the High Duke of Poland Leszek II the Black, effectively refounded the city under Magdeburg Law. The city archives preserve the founding document. (An important note: in 1260, as the Tartars invaded Christian Sandomir, a community of Dominicans was praying Matins while a novice read the martyrology for the next day: "the 49 martyrs of Sandomir". When the friars realized they were being warned of their death, they spent the remainder of the night and all the next day preparing to meet the Lord. At last, after the brethren had finished praying Compline, and as they processed singing the Salve Regina to Mary, the Tartars broke through the church door. While the Tartars intended to bring death to these Dominicans, they actually brought them great gifts - crowns of martyrdom. Ever since, at the death of every Dominican a song to his Beloved Mother is sung to usher him into her arms - the Salve Regina (or Hail, Holy Queen).)

Modern Era

After the re-unification of the Polish lands in the 14th century, the former principality became the Sandomierz Voivodeship, incorporating large areas of southeastern Poland. Until 1474, it was one of two voivodeships of Lesser Poland, together with Krakow Voivodeship. In 1474, Lublin Voivodeship was created from eastern part of Sandomierz Voivodeship. At this time Sandomierz had about 3,000 inhabitants and was one of the largest Polish cities. In the middle of the 14th century the city was burned again during a raid by the Lithuanians. It was rebuilt during the rule of king Casimir III of Poland. The layout of the city has survived practically unchanged since that time until the present day.

The following three hundred years, running until the middle of the 17th century, were quite prosperous for the city. The most important historical buildings were built during this period. This golden age came to an end in 1655 when Swedish forces captured the city in the course of the Deluge. After briefly holding out in the city, the withdrawing Swedes blew up the castle and caused heavy damage to other buildings. In the next 100 years the economy of Poland suffered a decline, which also affected the city. In 1570 an alliance of non-Catholic Polish Churches, the Lutherans, the Reformed, and the Bohemian Brethren, drew up what is known as the Consensus of Sandomir, effecting a confederation of the work in order to stave off defeat at the hands of the Roman Church. A great fire in 1757 and the First Partition of Poland in 1772, which placed Sandomierz in Austria, further reduced its status. As a result, Sandomierz lost its role as an administrative capital.

In 1809, during the Napoleonic Wars, fighting between the forces of Austria and of the Duchy of Warsaw caused damage to the city. After 1815 it found itself in the Russian Empire (Congress Poland). At this point it had just 2640 inhabitants.

Sandomierz Cathedral and St Paul's Church blood libel myth

This cathedral contains a series of paintings built into the church's wooden panelling depicting the Martyrologium Romanum. The third painting shows the scene which, it is claimed: "...depicts ritual murders committed in Sandomierz by Jews on Christian children. The inscription above the painting reads filius apothecary ab infidelibus judaeis sandomiriensibus occisus (son of an apothecary, by infidel Sandomierz Jews killed)

The St Paul's Church contains a different series of paintings including one in the chancel, depicting the torment of Jerzy Krassowski who was allegedly strangled by the Jews. Discussion on these pictures has taken place with the participation of the Polish Jewish Community. "The Polish Council of Christians and Jews has offered to finance a plaque with explanations of the blood libel and information about the official statements by various Popes rejecting the accusation". This plaque is now displayed in the St Paul's Church next to the picture in question.

Sandomierz, as is true of many towns and cities in Europe, had a very sad connection with the myth of blood Libel. Antony Polonsky explains that Fr. Stefan Zuchowski (1660-1716) from Sandomierz wrote two books propagating the myth of blood libel. He also took an active role in two ritual murder trials in Sandomierz which led to the murder of 5 Jews and was the inspiration for the paintings displayed in Sandomierz Cathedral and St Paul's Church.

Sandomierz has been at the centre of a controversy in relation to how to deal with these paintings. Daniel Tiles describes this in detail and puts forward a cogent argument as to why he thinks the current plaque which was installed in 2014 and is displayed in the Cathedral is inadequate. In brief he points out that the plaque contains no apology from the Catholic Church in relation to crimes committed by its members in the 18th century and gives the impression that the Church actively tried to prevent blood libels, which he argues is largely untrue. He also points out that the 8 pictures in St Paul's Church have no plaque or explanation. He makes the point that the current situation allows visitors to mistakenly think that there might be some truth to the paintings as their display in a church suggests that the church thinks they are a true portrayals of historical events.

The world wars

The city again suffered damage during World War I. In 1918 it again became part of independent Poland. In the 1930s, due to the massive public works project known as Central Industrial Area, Sandomierz began to grow quickly. It was projected to become capital of the Sandomierz Voivodeship, and local authorities planned fast development of the city. The Greater Sandomierz was to turn in the 1940s into a city of 120 000.

In September 1939, following the German invasion of Poland, the city was occupied by Germany and made part of the General Government. The Jewish population of the city, consisting of about 2,500 people, perished during the Holocaust, mostly in the death camps of Bełżec and Treblinka. The city was captured by the Red Army in August, 1944.

No major industrial development took place in Sandomierz during the communist era, thus preserving its look of a charming, small city full of historical monuments among unspoiled landscape.

Points of interest

  • Church of the Holy Spirit in Sandomierz
  • Church of St. Jacob where Lesser Polish Way begins
  • Sandomierz Church of St. Joseph
  • Sandomierz Church of St. Michael
  • Sandomierz Church of St. Paul
  • Collegium Gostomianum, one of the oldest schools in Poland founded in 1602
  • Jan Długosz House
  • Kamienica Oleśnickich (Oleśnicki Manor)
  • Pepper Mountains nature reserve
  • Diocesan Museum in Sandomierz
  • Opatowska Gate (Brama Opatowska), Gothic entrance to the city founded by King Casimir (Kazimierz Wielki)
  • Sandomierz Castle, medieval structure built on a slope of Vistula River by Casimir III the Great, portrayed in the opera Boris Godunov by Modest Musorgsky
  • Sandomierz Cathedral, constructed in 1360 and renovated in the Baroque style in the 18th century
  • Sandomierz Main Market Square
  • Sandomierz Palace also known as the Bishop's Palace in Sandomierz
  • Sandomierz Synagogue, built in 1768 of brick in the Polish Baroque style
  • Sandomierz Town Hall
  • Education

  • Wyższa Szkoła Humanistyczno-Przyrodnicza Studium Generale Sandomiriense
  • Wyższe Seminarium Duchowne w Sandomierzu
  • 1 Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace Collegium Gostomianum
  • 2 Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Tadeusza Kościuszki
  • Zespół Szkół Gastronomicznych i Hotelarskich
  • Twin towns — Sister cities

    Sandomierz is twinned with:

  • Volterra, Italy
  • Newark-on-Trent, United Kingdom
  • Emmendingen, Germany
  • Webcams

  • City hall & façades of houses on the lower market square
  • Panning: Gomulka's House, Kordegarda, Oleśnicki Family's House, rear façade of city hall, water well, Ciżemka
  • Panorama
  • Panning: City Hall, Main square and Opatowska Tower
  • Virtual walks

  • Sandomierz, wirtualny spacer po mieście
  • Google Street View
  • References

    Sandomierz Wikipedia