Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
The city of Zamosc is situated in the east of Poland and is one of the most important educational, cultural and touristic centers of its region. Because of its architecture its old town has been often called the Pearl of Renaissance, the City of Arcades or North Padua city. Zamosc is thought to be the only purely Renaissance city in Poland as it was built totally in this style, not like the other cities where the Medieval buildings were most often adjusted to the new fashion.
Zamosc, that has more or less 65 thousand citizens, gained its municipal status in 1580 thanks to Jan Zamoyski, who was its owner. As he founded ‘Ordynacja Zamoyska’, his own wide terrain that had unique and own independent rights and privileges, he made Zamosc the capital city of the small country he owned.
The biggest development of Zamosc took place in 17th century. At that time the city was inhabited by the Poles but also foreign settlers. The city was especially inhabited by Sephardic Jewish community, that gained special privileges granted by Jan Zamoyski, that came here from Turkey, Italy, Spain and Portugal. They were soon joined and in 18th century outnumbered by Ashkenazi Jews deriving from German lands. In the middle of 19th century almost half of Zamosc citizens were Jewish.
In 17th century Zamosc was also invaded, for example by the Swedes during the so called Swedish Deluge in Poland between 1655 and 1660. The Academy, that was founded in Zamosc already in 1594, was reformed in 18th century. During the time when Zamosc belonged to Kingdom of Poland (a remain of partitioned country) it was bought back by the authorities and renovated.
The old town of Zamosc was placed on UNESCO list in 1992. Its main characteristic is the main square of 100 meters at each side with the Town Hall and the remains of the city walls. Jan Zamoyski asked the architect, Bernardo Morano, to design the Renaissance city in which the most important point would be Zamoyski’s Palace (just like the head in the body). The main street (the corpus) is Grodzka, that runs through the main market square. With such an architecture in mind, Zamoyski tried to create the ideal city. Its main architectural form survived unchanged. However, almost all city walls (built during the partition) were destroyed in 1886.
Zamosc is surely one of Polish biggest attractions. Its architecture is a wonder to tourists as well as to many architects.