We love the golden Polish autumn. It’s a time when the leaves are slowly turning brown and yellow, the evenings and nights offer a chill, and the best Polish apples are entering the stalls. Autumn is also a very good time for us to travel, many places are slowly becoming deserted, and the weather continues to be very kind. This fall we decided to go to the capital of Polish apples, Sandomierz.
I don’t know if you know, but there are two interesting trails in the Sandomierz area: the Sandomierz Apple Trail and the Sandomierz Wine Trail. Due to the fact that we went on the road with toddlers, unfortunately, the latter we had to let go this time ;-)
So we set our sights on apple orchards, and even when looking for accommodation we tried to find a facility right on the Apple Trail. We managed to get to a fantastic place – Villa Wojtasówka. This is agritourism run by wonderful people, just a few kilometers from Sandomierz. It is a great base when it comes to sightseeing in Sandomierz and the surrounding area, plus there is an apple orchard on the premises, so the owners know everything about apples :) You can buy breakfast and dinner on site, which are served to each guest.
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Sandomierz – what is worth seeing?
The capital of Polish apples is best visited during the week of… It gets quite crowded and cramped here on weekends, so in order to be able to focus on exploring the city rather than slaloming between pedestrians, we recommend planning your trip from Monday to Friday.
Sandomierz has recently become even more popular for a certain series about a priest who rode a bicycle, but we will definitely skip this thread and focus here on the sights and nature :)
The city’s location alone is stunning – with the castle towering on the escarpment, above the Vistula River. Anyway, it was the city’s location that had a significant impact on its development. Sandomierz is one of the oldest Polish cities, and was granted city rights in 1227. It is also important to know that in medieval times Sandomierz was a Royal City, along with Wrocław and Kraków (it was Gall Anonim who mentioned these three capitals).
In Sandomierz, the most interesting gems are located around the historic Renaissance Old Town (some of which even date back to the 13th century). Although it’s not the oldest part of the city, as the so-called “oldest part of the city. The Old Town is located on Jacob’s Hill.
Sandomierz Royal Castle
We recommend exploring the city on foot, because despite its location at seven elevations, it is unlikely to be much of a problem to overcome differences in elevation (at least those in the inner center). You can leave your car at the rather large parking lot at Pilsudski Boulevard (paid) and from there head uphill towards the Royal Castle towering over the Vistula River.
The castle was built during the reign of Casimir the Great in the 14th century, replacing a pre-existing castle there. Currently, its interiors house the District Museum, where you can see exhibitions related not only to the castle itself, but also to the region and local culture.
Price list: normal ticket – 15 PLN, reduced ticket – 10 PLN
>> See also: Malbork Castle
Holy Jacob Hill
Behind the Castle, on a hill dotted with vineyards (Jacob’s Hill, also known as St. Jacob’s Hill or Old Town Hill), you can see the Dominican Monastery Complex with the Church of St. James. The St. James Church was founded in 1226.
The church is considered one of the oldest Dominican monasteries in Europe, and the building itself is considered one of the oldest brick buildings in Poland. The site was the focal point of the city, and commerce bustled here – this is where the aforementioned Old Town is located.
Continuing upward from the Royal Castle, one reaches the 14th century Cathedral. The tour is free, and entry is strongly encouraged. There awaits a beautiful marble altar, polychromes, frescoes, a huge organ…. and these are just a few elements of this richly decorated interior.
Old Market Square and Town Hall in Sandomierz
From the cathedral, along St. Mary’s Street one reaches the central part of the city, i.e. the Market Square with the Town Hall (this is the New Old Town ;) ). The Town Hall, with its octagonal white tower, is the most distinctive landmark in Sandomierz, although we must admit that during our stay it was lost in the stalls, performances and crowded Market Square.
Look for the sundial on the walls of City Hall, as it is located on the oldest of the building’s walls (it was expanded, and the tower itself was added later).
We encourage you to saunter around the area, walk the Market Square, but also the side streets, as several gems await, such as the Needle’s Eye, or Dominican Gate. While at the market, it is especially worth looking at the townhouses surrounding the market itself.
Another must-see is Opatowska Gate, and it is reached directly from the Market Square via Opatowska Street. The gate is a remnant of the city’s defensive walls and was one of four entrance gates. It was erected in the 14th century. It is now open to the public, and you can climb to the very top from where there is a beautiful panorama of the entire city. Unfortunately, there are sometimes queues to enter here on weekends.
Price list: normal ticket – 8 PLN, reduced ticket – 6 PLN
Pilsudski Boulevard, is another place worth noting, although here there is nothing to look for in terms of monuments. It’s a typically recreational place, so it’s ideal for walking, biking, sailing on all kinds of water equipment or taking a boat cruise on the Vistula.
There is also a playground for children, foodtrucks, deck chairs…. so you can relax here after a busy day in Sandomierz.
Queen Hedwig’s loess ravine
If someone is more interested in nature, there are loess ravines in Sandomierz, including the famous Queen Jadwiga Gorge. It was gouged into the loess rock by water, and its depth reaches 10 meters (and according to some sources even 15 meters).
Crossing the gorge is easy, walking about 10 minutes one way (the length is about half a kilometer), but we do not recommend going there with a stroller. Maybe the more off-road ones with pumped wheels will do the job, but it’s better to just take a carrier and go for a walk. During the walk you can observe interesting formations arranged from the roots of trees growing above the ravine.
Entrance to the gorge is, of course, free.
>> See also: Torun for the weekend – what is worth seeing?
Underground Tourist Route
We also have a suggestion for those who prefer to visit in an unusual way. In Sandomierz, the Underground Tourist Route, an underground tour, is available. We chose not to, but many people recommended it to us. It is a route through underground rooms and walkways, at a length of just under half a kilometer. The route stretches under the Old Town, and the exit is at City Hall.
The corridors and cellars were once used to store salt, herring or wine, and these rooms were crucial to the development of trade. They also provided shelter, but when trade began to decline they were forgotten, and in the end they contributed to building disasters in Sandomierz.
Fortunately, they have now been rediscovered and made accessible, and work on the city’s surface is definitely safer.
Price list: regular ticket – PLN 14, discounted ticket – PLN 10.
Oh, one more thing!
…while in Sandomierz, don’t forget to try the local apple pie, because such a pie in the apple capital tastes even better :)
Surroundings of Sandomierz
What is worth seeing in the Sandomierz area?
If you’re in Sandomierz it’s also worth looking around. The one closer and farther away :) Definitely worth a look at the Pepper Mountains – admittedly, they are located on the border of the city, but we write about them as part of the neighborhood, because they are not in the strict center, where we recommended walking. The best way to get here is by car or bicycle (going by car, you can stop at the microscopic free parking lot or at the Wild Rose Villa for $10).
From here it is not far to a great vantage point on the Vistula River and Sandomierz (literally 5 min walk). There are wooden benches here, so nothing to do but sit and absorb the beautiful landscape.
However, if you prefer to go for a longer walk topped by a beautiful view, that is also an option. A 4km trail leads here from the center of Sandomierz.
However, let’s return to the Pepper Mountains themselves. Where did the name “peppery” come from? Because the mountains are covered with a surface that just resembles peppercorns. However, in order to see it, you have to start from the observation deck and walk down a fairly sharp slope for a while. Below we find the aforementioned “pepper” scattered on the slope.
It is worth mentioning that the Pieprzowe Mountains are the oldest mountains in Poland. Now, of course, they do not resemble the Tatra Mountains, but perfectly here you can see how our planet behaves. It can even be said that these mountains are about 500 million years old!
The attention is also pierced by the wild roses growing here. Many species of them are found here hence why these hills are sometimes referred to as the “Rose Mountains.” Probably the most beautiful here is in May and June, when the roses bloom.
Apple Orchards near Sandomierz
The environs of Sandomierz are endless orchards full of apple trees. We were here in mid-September, which is the time when apples are harvested and Apples are celebrated. Driving along, every now and then we passed whole fields full of ripe apples and tractors with trailers with many crates filled to the brim with just them.
Trees in the area are yielding to all sorts of apple varieties. For example, at the agritourism in which we stayed overnight, the owners pick a special variety of apples, which do not need to be sprinkled, are slightly sour in taste and are destined exclusively for juice. Right next door are organic apples, and a few hundred meters away are orchards stretching almost to the horizon, and the apples hanging on the trees are so big and ripe that you want to stop to taste such fruit straight from the tree.
It is also worth mentioning that September is the time of #Apples – right now
We can celebrate the beauty of our orchards and the taste of Polish apples, which are known on the
all over the world… Being in distant countries ourselves more than once we met Polish apples in stores ;)
Apples are the time when we taste apples and the delicacies prepared using them. Apples can be celebrated in orchards, at picnics and gatherings with family and friends, prepare delicious apple pie, or use apples in dinner dishes. Only your imagination limits how you celebrate :)
Krzyżtopór Castle in Ujazd
Not far from Sandomierz, about a 30-minute drive, are the ruins of Krzyżtopór Castle in Ujazd. The property has been marked with Google’s Golden Pin as the highest rated attraction in the Świętokrzyskie region, so being so close, we couldn’t let this place go.
Krzyztopór Castle was built in the 17th century by order of Krzysztof Ossolinski and was never completed. Although it is called a castle it is more of a palace with defensive features.
Several tours are possible in the castle, and we recommend setting off on any of them. Although we must admit that we liked the routes in the basement of the castle the most, where at times you even had to walk on all fours.
Because visiting the castle is an interesting adventure…. although there are designated routes, you can visit it in any direction and order, and by going through the various rooms you can get an idea of what it looked like in its heyday. It impresses with its size, grandeur and symbolism. For the time being, we leave the subject of Krzyztopor as an introduction to a separate entry, as one will surely be written.
It is worth setting aside 2-3 hours for a leisurely tour of the facility.
Price list: normal ticket – 12 PLN, reduced ticket – 9 PLN.
Is it worth staying in Sandomierz for longer?
A trip to Sandomierz is a great idea for the weekend. Although, as we wrote above, we prefer staying in the middle of the week more than on the weekend :) We especially recommend the area in September and early October, when apples, a symbol of Sandomierz, are harvested.
In addition, of course, both exploring the city itself, the historic old town and the surrounding buildings and sites is not only a journey full of history, but also beautiful views.
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The entry was created as part of the “Apples” campaign implemented by the State of Poland Foundation.