Museums to visit in Varmia and Masuria in 2018
We live in a land which is diverse in nature and culture, where stories of people born in former East Prussia mingle with fates of families who arrived here from the Eastern borderlands and other parts of the country. Many different buildings have been preserved, for instance, industrial structures, palaces, castles, tenements and others which at present house museums. Each of them is different and they display exhibits in a modern and approachable way. Some of them apply multimedia techniques, e.g. the Interactives Museum of the Teutonic State in Działdowo.
An example of a museum located in a former industrial structure is the Museum of Innovation in Olsztyn which is housed in a former sawmill from 1884. The sawmill functioned in this building till 1929. You can see the sawmill from afar due to the high chimney which was restored during the revitalisation process. It is the only preserved relict of the former “ industrial district” of Olsztyn from the dynamic development of the town in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Other museums are located in Gothic castles which are characteristic structures of the region. Museums in Olsztyn and Lidzbark Warmiński belong to this group. The interesting complex for sightseeing is the Cathedral Hill in Frombork where you can visit a museum, a cathedral and a tower. Besides, there is a planetarium located in the tower.
When we get to know every region of Poland or of the world it is worth immersing in the history of visited places, which is what you are encouraged to do in the Varmia and Masuria region by visiting the following museums.
The Buildings on the Cathedral Hill in Frombork
There are some structures worth seeing on the Cathedral Hill. The most interesting of them are: the cathedral, the former bishop palace and the belfry, also known as the Radziejowski Tower.
The Assumption of Mary and St Andrew the Apostle arch-cathedral is the oldest building of the Cathedral Hill in Frombork. It was erected in the years 1329-1388 at the discretion of Varmian bishops. There is a baroque organ in the cathedral, which belongs to one of the most famous organs in the country. The International Festival of Organ Music is cultural attraction which takes place in the cathedral in the summer. These concerts have a 50-year-long tradition, virtuosos from Poland and abroad take part in them. Nicolaus Copernicus is buried in the cathedral.
The former bishop palace
The Gothic-baroque structure located in the south-east part of the Cathedral Hill was erected about 1350, it is also known as the Ferber Palace. The main exhibition rooms of the Nicolaus Copernicus museum are located there. Visitors can get familiar with astronomical instruments from Copernicus’ times, as well as with permanent exhibitions, e.g. “Nicolaus Copernicus – life and work” and temporal exhibitions, such as the cartography and iconography of cities, the history of publishing houses and Varmia book collection. There is also an exhibition presenting the interior of a historic study room entitles:“The study room of a Renaissance scholar”, which has been designed to resemble Nicolaus Copernicus’ study.
The befry called the Radziejowski-tower
The highest Gothic-baroque structure of the Cathedral Hill, the so-called Radziejowski-tower, located in the south-west corner, was erected at the turn of the 16th/17th century. The mysterious metal ball inside attracts attention. It moves majestically on a steel rope. This unique Foucault’s pendulum serves as evidence for the rotary movement of the Earth. The name derives from the French physicist, who was the first to carry out this experiment in 1851. There is a planetarium on the ground floor of the belfry belly. At the height of 70 m above the sea level, there is a view terrace, from which you can admire the panorama of Frombork and its environs.
Interactive Museum of the Teutonic state in Działdowo
Texts on display screens have been prepared in the way that is easy to absorb and memorize. The museum presents contents of popular scientific and historical character, without any political accents in three languages: Polish, English, German. Its aim is to spread knowledge about the historical period of the region which was then ruled by the Teutonic Order State. It is worth mentioning that due to its subject matter it is the first institution of this type in the world.
On screen and animation projections, also in the 3D technique, visitors can see the history of knights’ orders, mostly Teutonic, castle mock-ups, animation of battles and siege machines, the technology and strategy of battles, armaments and secrets of the castle kitchen, craftsmanship, everyday life of the castle and town inhabitants. All of this is presented in the context of original sights from the history of the Działdowo region and the area of the Teutonic State.
There are stands for practical classes of experimental archaeology, such as searching for “treasure” in the sandpit, a medieval decoration workshop, getting familiar with the replica and of armaments. In addition, on display, there are also comic books on touchscreens, medieval clothes, medieval music, interactive photos and films in the virtual reality from epoch.
The Museum of Varmia in Lidzbark Warmiński
The bishop castle in Lidzbark Warmiński is called “the Wawel of the North”. It belongs to the most precious sights of the Gothic architecture in Poland, it is well preserved and, to a great extent, original. The castle was built between 1350-1401 in the mouth of the rivers Łyna and Symsarna. It was mostly patterned upon the Teutonic architecture of commander castles and had a medieval character of a defensive structure. The whole castle was encircled by defensive walls and moats independent of the town.
The castle is a quadrangular structure, with a mighty tower in the corner, corner turrets, a courtyard with a beautiful arcade cloister covered mostly by a Gothic polychrome with rich iconography.
The castle was the main seat of Varmian bishops in the years 1350-1795. It was rebuilt after fires. It was gradually embellished over the centuries, with an excellent library collection and works of art. It was considered as a mansion of a ducal character.
Among its most renowned residents, there is a doctor of bishops and a prominent astronomer – Nikolaus Copernicus.
Some exhibits mostly from the rich collection of the museum of Varmia and Masuria are displayed there. You can see the following exhibitions: The building history of the castle of Varmian bishops (multicultural exhibition), The Gothic art of Varmia and Teutonic Prussia, Religious Paintings in Varmia, Prominent inhabitants of the castle in Lidzbark and Polish Paintings from the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century.
Museum of Varmia and Masuria in Olsztyn
The castle of the Varmia chapter in Olsztyn was built in the 14th and 15th century in the Gothic style. Initially, it was the seat of the administrator of the chapter. The structure is well preserved, to a great extent, original. The oldest, northern wing of the castle was built in the 14th century. It had residential and representative functions. An element which is worth attention is the diamond vault in the refectory and the administrator`s room. The guard tower and the southern utility wing with wooden hoardings were added in the middle of the 15th century. Over the next centuries, the castle lost its military function. In the middle of the 18th century the eastern, residential wing was added, it was kept in the baroque style, thus it is known as palace wing.
The most prominent administrator of the Varmia Chapter and inhabitant of the castle was Nicolaus Copernicus ( in the years 1516 – 1521). There is a flat of Copernicus in the castle. On the wall of the cloister, above the entrance to the administrator’s room – an astronomical board from 1517, made by him personally, was attached. The seat of the Museum of Varmia and Masuria is at present located in the castle. There is a permanent exhibition, dedicated to Nicolaus Copernicus in the castle. You can visit the tower in the high season and marvel at the panorama of Olsztyn as well.