Why do the residents of Wąchock put mustard on their TV sets? To have a sharp image. And why did the Village open a new bank account? Because the old one was already empty :) These are just two of the well-known jokes about Wąchock. Some will say old, some will say rusks, but nevertheless it must be admitted that Wąchock is precisely famous for its jokes about the Soltys. So it’s time to disenchant this city! We’ll show you that it’s not only for the statue of the Village Chief that it’s worth stopping here for a long while!
We have an interesting history with Wąchock. When we drove from Lodz to Baltow a year and a half ago, we had a sudden crisis in the car, well, and as a crisis with young people, you have to urgently look for a place to stop. Thinking little, we stopped at the first better village and, surprisingly, we were immediately surprised by the local infrastructure.
We landed in the center of the town, around the green, well-maintained area, for the kids skate park and playgrounds…. We stopped only to eat something and rest during the trip. However, we went for a short walk on this occasion, and imagine what our surprise was when suddenly, on the sidewalk we came upon the joke plates, and immediately afterwards, the statue of the village chief. A look at the phone where exactly we were was already just pro forma, as we realized that we had completely accidentally ended up in Wąchock!
Wąchock is definitely a city with distance that knows how to market. Instead of burying their heads in the sand or banning jokes about the city, they are still outright promoting it, laughing at themselves and making everyone who visits the Avenue of Humor feel better. They elect the Village Mayor, who in fact no longer manages Wąchock (the mayor is in charge here, since Wąchock has had city status again since 1994), but he is already so well-known that how could he be missing? On top of that, the National Tournament of Village Leaders is organized, and the city itself has christened itself the Polish Capital of Jokes.
And while everyone associates Wąchock with jokes, not so many associate it with the Cistercian abbey or the Świętokrzyskie Route of Technological Monuments. Therefore, in this post we will show you what interesting things to see in and around Wąchock.
Table of contents
Wąchock – historical outline
But before we show you the most interesting sites in Wąchock, a few words about the city itself and its history.
The city lies in the Świętokrzyskie province, between Skarżysko-Kamienna and Starachowice, in the valley of the Kamienna River.
The first references to Wąchock date back to the time when a Cistercian monastery was founded here at the beginning of the 12th century – we write more about the abbey itself later in this article, but remember that it was the Cistercians who established mines and metal works and at the same time contributed to the development of industry in the region.
As early as Neolithic times, striped flint was mined in the area to make tools, and in subsequent centuries metallurgy developed and iron was extracted on a massive scale. In the valley of the Flint River, the first factories and giant furnaces were built, using energy from water and charcoal to extract valuable minerals.
The greatest technological development and the establishment of new plants in the region took place in the 19th century, when, according to Stanislaw Staszic’s idea, plants were to be established to form the Continuous Iron Works on the Kamienna River. Staszic’s plans in Wąchock itself were not realized (the plan was to erect a blast furnace), but a forging plant was built and later converted into a metal works. Unfortunately, the plants did not last, mainly due to competition in other regions, new technologies, political decisions and the war, which caused the plants to close.
Many of these buildings, remnants of former factories, have been preserved and today are monuments or museum exhibits that can be viewed as part of the Świętokrzyskie Route of Technological Monuments. One such landmark is the Waterfall in Wąchock, and a remnant of the town’s industrial history is also the Schoenberg Palace, part of the buildings of the local metal works.
It is impossible to write about the history of the city without mentioning the preparations and battles during the January Uprising: Marian Langiewicz stayed in Wąchock and the surrounding forests, where he formed insurgent groups and commanded victorious attacks on the Russian army. There is a mansion in the city where the general had his headquarters.
Also during the German occupation, the area around the city witnessed a lot of warfare – partisan groups of the Home Army, under the command of Major Jan Piwnik “Ponury”, operated here. The city has a square named after him and a monument, and the ashes of the hero were deposited in the cloisters of the wąchocki monastery, as evidenced by the crypt visible there.
What is worth seeing in Wąchock?
Schoenberg Palace and waterfall – remnants of the former plant
We mentioned above briefly the history of the town – it was the plant that once operated that played a huge role in the development of Wąchock. The only remnants of the plant are the Schoenberg Palace and the waterfall, which is one of the attractions on the Świętokrzyskie Route of Technological Monuments. The facilities are located on the Wąchock Reservoir, in its southern part.
Initially there was a forging plant here, and then a metal works. The plant included a water system on the Kamienna River. The palace was built when the factory was managed by Robert Neauman, who came from Germany, but the palace is named after his son-in-law Nikolai Schoenberg, who made numerous investments to make the factory grow (the business had already been changed to the production of mill rolls). It included a mill, a foundry, a mill machinery factory, outbuildings and the entire water system
. In the 1930s, a flood destroyed the hydropower system, and after the war, the owners of the site abandoned it and it became state property (it served as a police station, kindergarten and even a folk club, among other functions). It is currently in private hands.
The most impressive remnant of the former factories is precisely the Schoenberg Palace, but remember that this is not a traditional palace. It is a post-factory, residential building, although it must be admitted that to us it reminds us more of a palace than a tenement house ;)
When coming to Wąchock, however, don’t expect a lavish building to tour. Unfortunately, these are only ruins, and the entire area is fenced off, so they can only be admired from the outside and from a distance.
Nevertheless, you can let your imagination run wild here and visualize what it was like to live and work here, and the other way – how the area could be revitalized to shine again. Because you have to admit that there is huge potential here!
Tours of the remains of the local factories are free (as a reminder, the palace is off-limits to the public).
Cistercian Abbey in Wąchock
The monastery and church are located south of the Wąchocki Reservoir – it will take about 5 minutes to walk from the Avenue of Humor or the remains of the factory described above.
The building was founded at the beginning of the 12th century by Bishop Gedko of Cracow and was initially inhabited by monks from the Morimond Abbey. As we mentioned at the beginning of the entry, the monastery contributed significantly to the development of the city, especially to the development of industry, because the monks were engaged not only in farming or weaving, but also in mining and metallurgy.
The monastery was repeatedly destroyed during wars (especially damaged during the Tartar and Swedish invasions) and fires, and in 1819 it passed into state ownership. The monks returned to it again in 1951. As of 2017, the Abbey has the status of Historical Monument.
Both the church and the monastery can be visited at designated times with a guide, at which time the ticket office is open (detailed opening hours and prices can be found here). However, if you are at a different time and the facility is open then there is still a chance to enter – we managed to enter outside these hours (of course, you should ask for such permission).
The monastery is counted among the most beautiful monuments of Romanesque architecture in Poland. The site, with its perfectly preserved interiors, perfectly captures the atmosphere of a medieval monastery.
Inside the monastery, one visits the cloisters, the cloister, the courtyard, and can walk to the gardens. Noteworthy features include one of the first cross-ribbed vaults in Poland, a perfectly preserved chapter house used as a meeting place for monks, and a refectory, or dining hall. The monastery also houses the Museum of Remembrance of the Struggle for the Independence of the Nation, and in the cloisters is the burial crypt of Major Jan Piwnik “Ponury.”
It is also worth noting the Late Romanesque church, which stands out already from the outside – we can observe the colorful stone blows, which are the result of building the structure with sandstone of different colors (yellow and red). This gives an interesting and eye-catching effect.
Photos are not allowed on the abbey grounds, so we only publish photos taken from the outside. Thanks to the cooperation with the Swietokrzyskie Voivodeship, we are publishing some photographs from the interior of the monastery and the temple:
Kamienna River reservoir and recreational zone
At the site of the reservoir at which the former industrial plant operated, a lagoon was created, which is now used for recreational purposes. It was commissioned in 2008, and several years later, in 2015, work was completed on the adjacent area, providing additional attractions. The entire area now offers many leisure activities for the whole family.
There is a promenade around the reservoir that is about 2.5 kilometers long – it is a pedestrian and bicycle path, ideal for walking or jogging. In addition, there are playgrounds, skate park, gym, playgrounds, tyrolean, pumptrack. Inflatables appear in season, and kayaks and pedal boats can be rented. There is also a beach with sunbeds, but no designated swimming area.
Alley of Humor in Wąchock and the statue of the Village Mayor
Let’s not kid ourselves, Wąchock stands for jokes, and the approach of the authorities to this topic deserves praise.
In Wąchock you’ll find the Avenue of Humor – a short stretch of cobblestone pavement features cast-iron plaques with jokes about Wąchock. At the end of the avenue is a statue of Soltys with which visitors to the Polish Capital of Jokes like to have their pictures taken (the statue’s unveiling ceremony took place in June 2003).
The whole area is well-kept and cared for: it is green, there are flowers, benches, on top of that you can take a photo of yourself under the commemorative plaque with the inscription Wąchock.
What can you see in the vicinity of Wąchock? We have two suggestions for you:
- Museum of Nature and Technology “Ekomuseum” named after him. Jan Pazdura in Starachowice is one of the many attractions on the Świętokrzyskie Route of Industrial Monuments. The museum was established on the site of the former blast furnace plant. The facility is visited with a guide and during the approximately 1.5 hour walk you can really learn a lot about the machinery, tools, the process of extracting iron from the ore, etc. In addition, there are STAR car exhibits, an exhibit on the history of ore mining in the area, and two exhibits on dinosaurs.
- Sieradowicki Landscape Park – the blue hiking trail starts in Wąchock, which leads through the Sieradowicki Landscape Park to Cedzyna and totals more than 45 km. We encourage you to walk at least its forest section, because here among the trees we can not only stroll in nature, but also learn about history – it was here that insurgent troops and partisans were stationed during World War II.
Visiting the area’s attractions will certainly be facilitated by the “Świętokrzyskie Trails” portal and app downloadable here.
Wąchock – practical information
Below you will find some practical information about Wąchock and the surrounding area.
Access to Wąchock and parking on site
Wąchock is located in the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, on national road 42 between Starachowice and Skarżysko-Kamienna. You won’t have a problem with parking spaces in the city, but if you’re interested in the attractions we’ve described, we recommend parking your car on Kolejowa Street (the parking lot is under the Polish Post Office building) or on the other side – parking spaces under the diagonal right next to the Avenue of Humor. There are also places on Church Street, opposite the gate to the Cistercian Abbey.
You can come to Wąchock by train, the walk from the station to the Abbey will take less than 10 minutes.
Accommodations in the vicinity of Wąchock
There is a shortage of accommodations in Wąchock, but Starachowice is close by, where the following facilities are worthy of note (we stayed at the first facility on the list):
- Hotel Europa Starachowice
Address: Radomska 76A, 27-200 Starachowice
Prices: from 360 PLN for a double room (breakfast included)
- Hotel Senator Conferences & SPA
Address: Krywki 18, 27-200 Starachowice
Prices: from 304 PLN for a double room (breakfast included)
- Stable under the Oak
Address: ul. Podlesie 78, 27-200 Starachowice
Prices: from 130 PLN for a double room
- Green Door
Address: 141 Smugowa, 27-200 Starachowice
Prices: from 190 PLN for a four-bed room
- Pension Lubianka
Address: Ul. Podlesie 93, 27-200 Starachowice
Prices: from 150 PLN for a double room
We hope that we have interested you in Wąchock and you will not associate it only with jokes about the Soltys :)
The city has both historical and historic sites to offer, as well as a well-prepared infrastructure for relaxation and recreation. We encourage you to stop here for a day and learn about the history of the city, or come with your family to spend time at the lagoon, go kayaking or biking.
// The entry was created as part of a paid cooperation with the Local Government of the Świętokrzyskie Province.
Sources we used: