Tag Archives: St. Jacob’s church

Sandomierz – the gem of Lesser (known) Poland


Old Sandomierz

There is a region in southeastern Poland – the one I come from – called Małopolska. The name somewhat awkwardly translates into English as Lesser Poland but let me assure you there is nothing “lesser” about it as far as things to do and places to see. For one, the region’s capital is beautiful Kraków on my top 10 list of cities anywhere (ok, I may be somewhat biased =) Sandomierz, although not as well known to tourists, is equally beautiful, historic, and worth a visit.

Back in the Middle Ages, it was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Poland, a residence of princes and kings. In the 1200s the city was seriously damaged by Tatar invasions. The most infamous raid took place in 1259-60 when the Tatars massacred 49 dominican monks in St. Jacob’s church after successfully laying siege to the city. That event has become foundational for many legends such as that of Salve Regina hill (the monks were singing Salve Regina hymn as they were preparing to meet their maker). The legend says that a giant bull raised by the monks ran after the Tatars in the direction of Kraków to avenge its keepers but could not catch up with the horde. Enraged, the bull dug a large mound with its hoofs and carved “Salve Regina” on the hillside with its horns. A great introduction to that early Sandomierz, shrouded in legends, is the Underground Route touring 470 metres of clandestine passages and multi-story cellars once used by cityfolk and merchants. Read the rest of this entry