Olsztyn is situated in the southern part of Warmia on the river Łyna, within the boundaries of Olsztyńskie Lakeland. There are 15 lakes situated within the borders of Olsztyn, among numerous frontal moraines which were formed during the last glaciations.
The most important monuments of Olsztyn, the capital of Warmian-Mazurian Voivodship are the Old Town with the castle complex and Saint Jacob Apostle’s Church dating back to the XIV century. The monuments of the Olsztyn Town Square are situated on the European Route of Gothic and the church is deemed one of the greatest monuments of brick gothic era in Poland.
The history of Olsztyn castle is very rich. Under the peace treaty dating back to 1466 signed in Toruń, Olsztyn and the whole area of Warmia, lands that at that time were the property of the State of the Teutonic Knights’ Order went under the rule of Poland. Then the King handed the castle over for the benefit of Warmian bishops.
Nicolas Copernicus himself lived in the castle in Olsztyn for many years. In 1521 he prepared the stronghold/bastion for defence against the Teutonic Knights Order armies, here Copernicus wrote one of the first works in the history of economical thought, explaining the phenomenon of inflation. The character of Copernicus is commemorated by two monuments and memorial boards. A fragment of a wall, on which the great astronomer drew auxiliary lines during his research on the day and night of the equinox in 1517 actually remained in the castle.
In 19th century the city enlarged and became the actual capital city of Warmia. New public buildings were raised, among others new town hall resembling the style of Dutch renaissance, neo-Gothic churches i.e. the Church of the Holly Heart of Jesus Christ and Saint Joseph’s Church, the seat of court clerks and many beautiful living quarters.
The House of Olsztynska Newspaper is an interesting museum, a building, which during the interwar period served as the editorial office of “The Olsztyn Gazette”, the only Polish newspaper in Warmia coming out since 1886. On account of Copernicus’ tradition, it is worth visiting planetarium in Olsztyn and the astronomical observatory localized in the former pressure tower. When the sky is cloudless there are sky displays and you may observe the city panorama from the there.
The seat of the biggest gallery Office of Artistically Exhibitions is also laocalized in the planetarium. Town Square Gallery, Spichlerz Gallery or Art Deco Gallery are worth visiting as well.
Cultural life is also intensive. In March there are international Olsztyn Theatre Meetings. Traditions of Warmian composer, Feliks Nowowiejski are cultivated by Warmian-Mazurian Philharmonics. The most important cyclical festivals in Olsztyn are Olsztyn Blues Nights (July) and All-Poland Castle Meetings “Let’s sing poetry” /June, July/. The Artistic Summer in Olsztyn is 3-months series of events taking place during holidays with Amphitheatre next to the castle functioning as the major stage for all the said /events/. Among other events held as a part of Olsztyński Artistic Summer are for example Olsztyn Days, Olsztyn Organ Concerts, Old town Meetings with Shanty (July) and Olsztyn Jazz Festival. The reason for coming of many guests to Olsztyn and Warmia is the international, Hubert-Wagner-Volleyball-Memorial. Olsztyn is also a stage-city during the cycling race Tour de Pologne.
Thanks the owned sporting infrastructure, unique localization among forests and lakes and developed night base Olsztyn is a place of grouping of many national teams sports training camps.
It’s worth remembering that from May until September, every Sunday and Saturday rafting canoe “On Łyna through Olsztyn” starts. Rafting trips start underneath Olsztyn castle. The 3 km route runs through the picturesque gorge of river Łyna and the final destination is the pool area, where two Warmian rivers - Łyna and Wadąg coincide.