It is not well-known that Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites. One of them is the Old City in Zamość. This Renaissance pearl was built in 1580 by Jan Zamojski (1542-1605), the Great Chancellor of the Crown. Located about 3 hours’ drive from Warsaw in southeastern Poland, the Old City has retained its original plan, including some of its historic fortifications. Zamość sits on a trade route from the Black Sea, linking Western and Northern Europe. Its fortress has withstood many battles, including Tatar invasions, Cossack insurgence, and Swedish Deluge.
Zamojski received his education at the University of Padua, Italy, where he grew fond of Italian renaissance architecture. One of his dreams was to build a fortress surrounded by housing—a perfect city. Designed by Bernardo Morando (1540-1600), a famous Italian architect and native of Padua, Italy, the City of Arcades was conceived.
The project was consequently executed over the years with stunning results. Complete with a university, the Zamość Academy, the city attracted individuals from different cultures. Armenians, Jews, Greeks, Germans, Italians, Scots, and, of course, Poles came to settle here and do business.
Although Zamojski founded and owned the city, Morando became its first mayor from 1591-1593. Eventually, Morando chose to settle in Zamość, get married, and have six children.
Famous Zamość natives include Szymon Szymonowic (1558-1629), a Renaissance-era poet and humanist known as the “Polish Pindar,” who wrote in Polish and Latin and introduced the genre called Sielanki/Bucolic; Marek Grechuta (1945-2006), a poet, composer and singer who eventually settled in Krakow (his music is still well-known and often heard on the radio in Poland); and Boleslaw Leśmian (1877-1937), who was an eminent Polish poet.
Zamość offers a unique view on city planning that has withstood the test of time and been enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.
Website of UNESCO, World Heritage Convention
Wikipedia, about Zamość in English
Information about the city in English:
The Storming of Zamość Fortress
A brief movie (3 minutes) about Zamość by UNESCO in English: