We begin our walk in the town square where the tourists can admire a 14-metre-high Column of Virgin Mary, made by an Austrian artist, Jan Melchior Oresterreich. The column was erected as an act of thanksgiving for saving the town from an outbreak of cholera in 1708 and 1715.
Let’s enter Dlugosza Street. Just below the arcades on the left is the Regional Information Centre with a Tourist Information Office. Dluga Street is the longest street within the town’s defence walls. While walking along and admiring well-preserved tenant houses we reach Chopin Street and St Holy Spirit’s Church, a seat of Dominican nuns (today a museum). On the right we pass a historical building of the Bank Ludowy, today it houses PTTK.
The museum offers very interesting exhibitions, for example, archaeological, historical and ethnographical collections. Lately, crypts of dukes have been open to the public. However, its greatest attraction is a three thousand-year-old mummy of an Egyptian woman brought to Raciborz in the middle of the 19 th century. Apart from that, the tourists can observe a Gothic tiled stove, the oldest of the three reconstructed in Poland. Worth seeing is also a fresco presenting a scene of the ‘Pentecost’, made in the first half of the 17 th century. When leaving the museum through Gimnazjalna Street we pass old monastic buildings (now, an Economic School) and move towards the Freedom Square. In the Medieval times, there was the Mikolajska Gate (Great Gate). Today, the square is surrounded by very old and high trees as well as interesting tenant houses built in the Neo-Renaissance and eclectic styles, richly decorated with various architectural details. In the middle of the square we can see a glacial boulder weighing 42 500 kilos.
Now, we enter Londzina Street, a former suburb called ‘Branki’, where we can discover a baroque statue of John Nepomucen dated to the first half of the 19 th century, while on the opposite side of the street - one of numerous monuments of nature - a hundred-year-old white oak.
Then, on the left we pass a bishop’s inn build in the 18 th century, on the right we can see a Community Centre ‘Strzecha’, built in the eclectic style at the end of the 19 th century.
In Glubczycka Street there is The Statue of Concord commemorating the agreement of 1287 reached between a Wroclaw bishop Thomas II and Henry IV. Next to it, we can see another statue of John Nepomucen.
Moving forward the tourists reach St Nicholas’ Church rebuilt between 1899 and 1902 in the Neo-Gothic style from red bricks. The first mention of the church appeared in the records of 1287, soon after the agreement between Thomas II and Duke Henry IV. ‘Stara wieś’ district, also called the village around St Nicholas’ Church, is the oldest settlement within Raciborz’s borders. The first signs of human activity date back to Neolithic and Bronze age, while remnants of Lusatian culture to the period of the 14 th to 7 th century BC. Here, on a high bank of the river, never hit by any flood we can find a typical rural planning arrangement consisting of Mikolaja, Koscielna and Kozielska streets. In the middle there was so-called ‘NAWSIE’ – an internal pasture surrounded by farms forming a kind of defence walls. In this way the peasants and their families and properties were protected form plunder. Later, the area of ‘nawsie’ changed, new churches, monasteries, schools and other public works appeared. Just behind the fence, in Koscielna Street is a presbytery and the Monastery of Elizabeth nuns.
When walking along Koscielna Street we pass peasant farms and reach Kozielska Street, where a cemetery (1856) is located. Here we can find magnificent gravestones engraved with Polish inscriptions from the 19 th and 20 th century.
Following Kozielska Street we get to boulevards on the Odra river situated in Slaska Street. Passing the Red Army cemetery with two monuments of nature: a London plane tree (Platanus acerifolia) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) we get to the footbridge over the river. After crossing it, let’s turn left to see The Silesian Insurgents Memorial. Going back along the river we pass an old yacht marina built in 1913 (designed by Paul Lachman) and get to the castle.
The first mentions of the stronghold appeared in 845. At that time it was one of the five Slavic strongholds. It was built by the duke Przemyslaw from the Piast Dynasty between 1281 and 1287 and served both as a defensive and representative castle. The size, arrangement of chambers and numerous decorative elements made the castle look like a palace. Today the tourists can admire an open gallery on the first floor, massive arcades of the gallery on the ground floor, the barrel vault (well preserved in chambers), a historical entrance gate (the first half of the 17 th century) and St Thomas chapel blended to the east wing of the castle.
The north wing houses a brewery, that is still working. The first mention of the brewery appeared in 1532.
In the castle park we can see another monument of nature – a pin oak (Quercus palustris).
Passing a Sports and Recreation Centre before we turn into Morawska Street, let’s see the ruins of former barracks (1868) and stables built in 1877. There was an office of mounted police in 1922 –1933.
Behind the buildings situated in Morawska Street we can observe St John the Baptist’s Church built in 1855. Worth seeing is the main altar made by W. Sickinger and a painting presenting Mary with the Infant Jesus dating back to the 17 th century as well as astonishing stained glasses depicting the Last Judgement. Next to the church there is one of the oldest cemeteries in Raciborz, entered onto the list of historical buildings.
Heading towards the town we pass a late baroque statue of John Nepomucen erected in 1733. The ‘Zamkowy’ bridge leads us to the second bank of the river in the direction of the town. At the end of the 12 th century there was probably an urban settlement, mentioned for the first time in 1217. In the middle of the 13 th today’s arrangement of the town was settled and Raciborz was granted the municipal rights modelled on the Magdeburg’s law. At that time the town’s walls were made of wood and soil, and since the 13 th and 14 th century they were replaced with fortified town’s walls and donjons made of bricks. The fortification had three gates, in the north Odra Gate (Castle Gate), in the south the New Gate (Bienkowicka Gate) and in the west The Mikolajska Gate (Great Gate).
After passing the monument of ‘Matka Polka’ made by an Opole sculptor, John Borowczak, let’s head towards Podwale Street, where a former building of a riding stable (today’s market) is situated. Now, we enter Batory Street. On the right there is a corner tenant house from 1900 built in the Secessional style while on the left, we can see a building of the Town Hall from the year 1912, famous for the chocolate factory that used to function there. On the way to Pocztowa Street we pass remnants of the old walls that run next to the market. In Pocztowa Street the tourists can admire a former tsar’s Post Office built in the Flemish Neo-Renaissance style that till these days has the same function. Another tourist attraction is a former ‘Knittel’s Hotel’, built in the second half of the 19 th century, turned into ‘Polonia Hotel’. The building is a mixture of eclectic and Secessional motives. Just opposite the hotel we can see a historical narrow-gauge steam engine TW-53.
When turning right into Sejmowa Street we reach Drzymały Street again, where defence walls can be observed.
Next, let’s turn right into Basztowa Street and its greatest attraction – a Gothic-Renaissance donjon, called a prison donjon and a 25-meter-long fragment of the defence walls. Then, we can see a late Classicist building of a court, designed by a Berlin architect, Karol Schinkl.
An area outside the walls was turned into suburban garden. In the past there was a moat. We can also find a statue of Stanislaw Moniuszko there.
Nowa Street takes us to the market square where we can visit a parish church of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first mentions of this church appeared in 1205. A baroque altar made by Salomon Steinhof is said to be the most beautiful part of the church. In 1654 a richly decorated stalls were placed in the presbytery.
Our trip ends at a Gothic church of St. Jacob that is famous for a baroque sepulchral chapel where the von Gaschin counts were buried. The vault is decorated with stucco art (1635 – 55) and contains the coat of arms as well as an altar made from black marble. In front of the church we can once again see a statue of John Nepomucen from 1720.
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