We visited Zamość Fortress (Polish: Twierdza Zamość) and town on one of those perfect Polish summer days where the sun and heat pelted down and made everything bright and vivid. Locals and visitors in this far south eastern city of Poland seemed to have a spring in their step on this fine day and everyone seemed to be smiling.
Zamość fortress encloses the old Renaissance-style medieval city of Zamość was built between 1579 and 1618. As one of the largest fortresses of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, built so solidly, the fortress was able to resist the attacks of both the Cossacks and the Swedes during the Deluge.
The fort and the city itself were planned by Italian architect from Padua, Bernardo Morando. He used the two local rivers Topornica and Labunka to a defensive advantage and created a moat system which could be flooded during times of attack.
The first castle was built in 1579, then more buildings were added in the following years – the Arsenal (1582), Lublin Gate (1588), Lwów Gate (1599) and (1603) Szczebrzeszyn Gate. Each has its own drawbridge. The entire complex was completed by Italian architect,Andrea dell’Aqua in 1620. The Italianate style of this city and fortress makes it pretty and elegant. It was a real pleasure to stroll around and the inner square features some beautiful boutique souvenir shops. These are unlike any sort of souvenir shop in my part of the world. They sell hand-made gifts made with love and deep commitment to the craft. Each shop a unique selection of keepsakes made from clay, lace, blown-glass and wood and more.
At the rynek głowny (city square) on a saturday night, we witnessed local football fans avidly watching the European Championship game between Germany and Poland (along with their distinctly less enthused girlfriends). Everyone sitting in the outdoor pubs that line the square was wearing red and white (biały czerwony) clothes. The result was a nail-biting 0-0. And instead of being dissatisfied that nobody scored, everyone seemed exultant that Poland was still in the running for the semi-finals.
While watching the game, we enjoyed some satisfying and homely peirogi ruski (Russian style peirogi filled with cottage cheese and served with fried onion and sour cream) along with żurek (an immensely tasty sour rye soup, featuring wild mushroom, sour rye, Polish sausage, and the ultimate treasure which slowly surfaced from the broth – a hard boiled egg. Although I was initially a bit sceptical about having boiled egg in a soup, it was completely decadently yummy.
Zamość has some beautiful Renaissance towers, leafy green parks and plentiful extinct motes and flowing rivers to explore. This region of Poland is almost completely flat and so ideal for leisurely weekend bike rides.