If you plan to visit Bialystok, include Tykocin on your bucket list. Tykocin is a charming, historical, and even royal town in the Podlasie, picturesquely situated on the Narew River, slightly west of Białystok. This under-the-radar destination would be an excellent option for those who want to experience a smaller town that still remains authentic and unvarnished by hordes of tourists.
Tykocin in Poland is a small town that has not yet completely lost its former pre-war atmosphere of a Jewish city. You will find charming cobbled streets, beautiful wooden houses, brick residences, historical buildings, and an interesting history dating back to the 11th century when there was a fortified city in Tykocin.
The town gained greater importance in the 15th century, on June 28, 1425, Duke of Mazovia Janusz granted Tykocin city rights. Jews made a significant contribution to the history of Tykocin. The first Jewish settlement dates back to the beginning of the 16th century. The brick synagogue built-in 1642 remained a precious memento of that time.
Jews, like in other parts of the Podlasie region, contributed a lot to the development of Tykocin using their economic skills and diligence. They developed the city economically with their diligence and skills. Before World War II, they constituted half of the city’s population. Nazi policy and the ghettos created led to the extermination of Jews. Today, Tykocin has just over two thousand inhabitants.
Many have already recognized the richness of cultural and natural beauties; Tykocin has to offer and more tourists from year to year flock to this charming town.
Tykocin is one of the oldest and most beautiful centers in the region, about 600 years old. It is also called a pearl of the Baroque, not without reason because there are lovely 18th-century monuments here that reflect this style.
Firstly you should direct your steps to the market square, which is undoubtedly the heart of the city. You will find here a statue of Hetman Stefan Czarniecki facing the baroque church of St. Trinity. In 1659, the Hetman received not only Tykocin but the entire district for his war merits.
The market square is absolutely stunning and so lovely. Entering the market square is like stepping back in time into a beautiful and vibrant town. It is worth stopping by and entering an atmospheric restaurant or cafe. Beyond the market square, the other parts of the town are also pretty.
Fczarnowski Wikimedia Commons
Be sure to tour the impressive synagogue, built-in 1642 in mannerist-early Baroque style. By any means, it is the most important place in Tykocin. You will be amazed by incredible interiors, rich in detail.
Inside, you can see the bimah, located in the center, the old Torahs and other Judaic items, walls with a painting of Hebrew inscriptions of prayers. There is also an archaeological exhibition about Tykocin, which used to be a Polish royal town.
You should pop-in to a restaurant “Tejsza” located in the building serving lovely Jewish cuisine. A small synagogue – the Talmudic House – is next to the Great Synagogue. It houses a small museum dedicated to Zygmunt Gloger.
Even if you are not a religious person, you should visit the synagogues.
Holy Trinity Church
Piotr Widerski Wikimedia Commons
This church is one of the most beautiful monuments you will see in Tykocin. You can admire here stunning interior divided into three aisles, which are the finest examples of Rococo art in the region. The temple has a characteristic, unusual facade inspired by magnate residences of the region Tykocin.
Don’t miss beautiful organs from the 18th century. You should also pop-in to the 17th-century Military Alumnate adjacent to the temple. Once, it was a hospital and shelter for noblemen and veterans. Now this unusual building houses a restaurant and hotel.
A few hundred meters behind the church, you will find a monument of the White Eagle.
Plac Czarnieckiego 10
Architecture lovers will find a real gem, a wooden anor house that miraculously survived from destruction, and we can please our eyes today. This is an excellent example of what Tykocin used to look like.
Although the house was erected in 1885, its structure faithfully reflects the architectural flair of Jan Klemens Branicki and his vision of Tykocin, which he began to implement in the 17th century. Today the building is managed by locals artists and activists. Yet you can see exhibitions that tell the painful story of the Jewish Community. You must check it out.
When exploring the Tykocin, be sure to visit the castle, it is such a gem. In combination with the church and the synagogue gives a fantastic insight into Polish history. Although the castle is quite “new” (rebuilt over the last 15 years), it dates back over 500 years.
You will get a view of how important the history of Tykocin was as part of the Poland-Lithuanian Republic. The castle of king Zygmunt II August is located on the northern bank of the Narew river. The building’s history is associated with such historical figures as Janusz Radziwiłł, Stefan Czarniecki, August II Mocny, and Jan Klemens Branicki.
The only thing I’d point out is that you need to join a guided tour if you want to visit the castle. The entrance fee is about $20 per person if you’re going to tour in a foreign language.
You should take a closer look inside; there are lots of exciting historical exhibits. If your budget allows for a splurge, you can catch a bit of fantasy and spend the night in this lovely castle.
European village of storks
In the neighboring village of Pentowo, there is a unique European Stork farm where about 120 storks are living in the summer. If you are a stork and nature lover, then this might be something for you.
The village’s attractiveness increased significantly after the storm in 1991, when storks began to build nests on the trees broken by the wind. However, most of them were too weakly joined and began to fall apart after a short time.
Yet the North Podlasie Society restored the nests of the birds. Nature lovers can observe storks and surroundings from 2 observation towers. You should also visit “Stork Gallery,” which offers souvenirs, postcards and nature magazines.
An additional attraction of this place is open-air classical music concerts usually held on the last Saturday of the month from May to October.
Souvenirs seekers should head to one of the biggest antique markets in Podlasie. You can find all sorts of things there – unique furniture, fancy jewelry that even a lady of the court would not be ashamed of, practical items such as coffee grinders, and even antique porcelain sets.
Antique lovers will be delighted by the huge collection of items. There is also no shortage of local products, from wonderful Podlasie cheeses, through various preserves to traditional liqueurs. The fair in Kiermusy has been organized every month for over 15 years. Good luck in finding your next unique souvenir.
Tykocin is a place where there is really a lot to choose from when it comes to accommodation. It may be challenging to find a hotel here, but there will be more than one agritourism with the rural atmosphere.
You can also rent a cottage by the river, and for those looking for unusual experiences, there is an option of accommodation in one of the royal chambers in the castle.
Apartment: Komoda Tykocin
MId-range: Dwor Czarnieckiego
Lodge by the river: Żwirowa Góra – Domki nad Narwią
If you are looking for off the beaten path destination with the charm of the medieval town, this may be something for you. This adventurous and pleasant getaway from the busy big city lifestyle can be planned at the last minute, plus the touch of nature and appeal of town will reward you with a fantastic experience.
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