August 24, 2013

0797-0802 POLAND (Holy Cross) - Sandomierz

Although today is only a small town with 27,000 inhabitants, Sandomierz, located at the junction of Vistula and San rivers, on the path of trade routes, was in Middle Ages one of the most important urban centers of Poland. The first historical mention of the city comes from the early 12th century, when it appears, together with Kraków and Wrocław, as one of the main cities of Poland. In 1138, when the country was divided, it was designated as a capital of one of the resulting principalities, the Duchy of Sandomierz. Its wooden buildings were completely destroyed by Tatars in the 13th century, and in 1286 it was refounded under Magdeburg Law. In the middle of the 14th century it was burned again, by the Lithuanians, being rebuilt by the king Casimir III. The layout of the city has survived practically unchanged since that time until the present day.

The following 300 years were quite prosperous for the city, and the most important historical buildings were built during this period. In 1655, in the course of the Deluge, the Swedish forces blew up the castle and caused heavy damage to other buildings. A great fire in 1757 and the First Partition of Poland in 1772, which placed Sandomierz in Austria, further reduced its status. After 1815 it found itself in the Russian Empire, where it remained until 1918. As part of the independent Poland it began to grow quickly, but in 1939 was occupied by Nazi Germany, and in 1944 by the Soviet army.  No major development took place in Sandomierz during the communist era.

Today the layout of the Old Town retains its medieval character, and is a major tourist attraction. In the first postcard is right a view of the Old Town, and in the second one a row of heritage building on the main market square, with an old wooden well. In the third one is the Basilica of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Gothic church constructed in 1360, and renovated in the baroque style in the 18th century, which received the rank of cathedral in 1818.

In the fourth postcard is the Church of St. James, also known as the Shrine of Blessed Sadok and 48 Dominican martyrs, Monastery of Dominicans (Convent of St. James), Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary. Founded by Ivon Odrowąż in 1226-1250 as the second Dominican convent in Poland, after the Kracow one, is one of the oldest brick churches in Poland (probably in Europe). During the Mongol invasion in 1260, Sadok and 48 other Dominicans were murdered there. Because of this martyrdom, the Polish Dominican friars may use red belts in their habits. This church is a unique indirect form of Romano-Gothic style, and has beautiful Roman ceramic decorations on the outside walls, and gorgeous stained glass windows (designed by Charles Frycz and dating from 1910 to 1918).


In the fifth postcard is the Royal Castle, built on a slope of Vistula River, in Gothic style, by Casimir III the Great (on the site of the existing stronghold in the 10th century) and extended in the 16th century. The existing tower was built during the reign of Casimir IV Jagiellon in the 15th century as an integral part of the so-called Great House, the seat of the prince. As I wrote before, the original building was blown up in 1656 by the retreating Swedish troops of general Sincler, leaving only the west wing standing. It was later transformed into a Renaissance styled residence with the west wing preserved as a museum.


In the sixth postcard is the former Gothic town hall, a building on a plan of square and topped with a high octagonal tower, built soon after the Lithuanian raid in 1349. In the 16th century it was developed into a form of an extended rectangle and topped with an attic, and the tower was rebuilt in the 17th century. On the ground floor there is the section of the Regional Museum, in the basement there is the Club of Sandomierz Cultural Society "Lapidarium". On the first floor there are presentable rooms of the Town Council and the Office of Civil State. Next to the Town Hall, from the east, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary from 1776.


In the last postcard is Opatowska Gate (Brama Opatowska), a Gothic entrance to the city founded by the same King Casimir III. The original system of the Gothic walls consisted of four gates leading to: Opatów (the only preserved), Zawichost, Lublin, and Cracow and two wicket gates (of which one - the Dominican wicket gate, called “the Needle Eye” - has been preserved) as well as twenty-one defensive towers. On the northern facade of the gate there is an original guide bar which was used for lowering the portcullis. The Opatowska Gate is crowned with a Renaissance attic.

About the stamps
The first stamp on the first postcard (that appears on six of the seven postcards), depicting the Town Hall & church archway in Sandomierz, are part of the series Polish Cities, about which I wrote here.

The second stamp on the first postcard is part of a series of two, issued on July 30 2013 to celebrate the Tour de Pologne 2013 cycling race, first held in 1928.

The second stamp on the second postcard (that appears also on the third postcard) is part of the serie issued on May 6, 2013, as part of Europe Stamp, with the theme, Van of the Postman.

The second stamp on the fourth postcard (that appears also on fifth, sixth, and seventh postcards) is part of the series Signs of the Zodiac, issued on 1996.

Sandomierz - Wikipedia
City of Sandomierz - Hotel Sarmata official website

sender 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7: Kazimierz Roman Leszczynski (direct swap)
1: sent from Sandomierz (Holy Cross / Poland), on 12.08.2013
photo: Wieslaw Lubanski
2: sent from Sandomierz (Holy Cross / Poland), on 12.08.2013
photo: D. Borucka-Gan
3: sent from Sandomierz (Holy Cross / Poland), on 12.08.2013
4: sent from Sandomierz (Holy Cross / Poland), on 15.05.2013
5: sent from Sandomierz (Holy Cross / Poland), on 12.08.2013
photo: A. Winiarczyk
6: sent from Sandomierz (Holy Cross / Poland), on 15.05.2013
photo: Krzysztof Sliwa
7: sent from Sandomierz (Holy Cross / Poland), on 12.08.2013
photo: Krzysztof Sliwa

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