The castle is located in a little town of Ujazd situated near the south-eastern boundary of the Śętokrzyskie Mountains. The castle of Krzyżtopór in Ujazd had a defensive character. Its construction that took 13 years was supervised by Italian architect Lawrence Senes, who also designed the project. Built inside massive stone walls with bastions at the five corners, this mannerist palace embodied the structure of the calendar. It had four towers symbolizing the four seasons and 12 big halls, one for each month. Exactly 52 rooms were built, one for each week in the year, and 356 windows. The building occupied an area of 3.2 acres, its walls were 600-meter-long and its cubature amounted to 70 thousand cubic meters. Marble and mirrors were used in the interiors of the underground stables, while the ball room had an aquarium in place of the ceiling. The walls of the residence were decorated with portraits of the family ancestors and closer relatives of the Ossoliński family. They were supposed to be a proof of the family power and its great contributions to the fame of the Polish Republic.
The Alive Museum of Porcelain in Ćmielów
The small town of Ćmielów in the powiat of Ostrowiec is famous for the best quality porcelain produced there. Galleries in New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Berlin, Moscow and in other European capitals are proud owners of porcelain masterworks from Ćmielów, which in the 1960’s were a huge world success. In 2005 on the premises of the former Świt Porcelain Manufacturing Company the “Alive Museum of Porcelain” was established. It differs from other institutions of the type. Apart from exhibitions of period statuettes, one may also participate in the process of porcelain manufacturing and even make a porcelain work oneself.
The Holy Cross
Święty Krzyż is famous in Poland and abroad for the Benedictine monastery and its Relics of the Święty Krzyż Tree. The monastery, now hosted by the Missionary Oblates, can boast of its 1000 years’ history. Visitors and pilgrims can see a Classicist church dating back to the 18th century and the chapel of the Oleśnicki Family containing the shrine with pieces of the Holy Cross tree and a sepulchral crypt in its vaults. It is worth visiting the Museum of the Missionary Oblates of the Virgin Mary as well as seeing the exhibition of the Świętokrzyski National Park. Tired visitors may try the monastery cuisine and drop in an old pharmacy, now a cafe, not only to have a cup of coffee or tea, but also to buy traditional herbal medicines.
The Royal Castle in Chęciny
The castle is an excellent example of medieval fortress situated on an elevation. The castle yard was surrounded by 9-meter-high walls a with loop-holes and parapet walks for guards. The fortress of Chęciny can be divided into two parts. The upper one was built around 1300 and is closed with two round towers with walls 2-meter-thick. The lower part was added in the late 14th century and is composed of a yard with quadrangular tower and a ogival wicket door. The locally extracted gray lime stone was used as construction material for the castle walls, although there are parts built of red and pale sandstone and brick. The towers are round and can be entered only from the upper level. The road leading into the castle was constructed close to the walls so that defenders could keep it under full control. The approaching tract was protected by a dry moat and a timber bridge that could be burnt down in case of an enemy attack. In addition to its military and residential functions, the castle – from the end of the 14th century – was used as prison for members of landed gentry as well as for prisoners of war of high rank. Beginning with the early 17th century, the castle hosted the office of Chęciny starosts and served as municipal and communal archives.
The Golden Forest Hermitage in Rytwiany
In 1624 in the vicinity of Rytwiany town Golden Forest Hermitage was built for the Camaldolese order of Monte Corona congregation. At the time the Annunciation Church, monastic buildings, outbuildings and eremitorium, a complex of hermit houses came into existence. To this day arriving tourists may admire the church with baroque equipment, a part of one-storey monastic buildings with the so- called Tęczyński’s isolated monastery (the only preserved hermit house) and a part of outbildings, where the monastic kitchen, foresteria and the drugstore were located. Since 2001 Centre of Culture and Education “Źródło” has been taking care of the monastic complex. The Centre is planning to rebuild the ancient eremitorium (16 hermit houses), to reconstruct the garden and to build tourist-recreational facilities, in which the tourist will be transported to the enclave of silence and peace in order to regenerate one’s psychical and physical strength.
Krzemionki Opatowskie - The Museum and Reserve of Archeology
The locality of Krzemionki is situated some 8 km north-east of Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. In 1922, a geologist Jan Samsonowicz discovered here Europe's biggest mining fields from the Neolithic period, where striped flint was extracted in the years 3900-1600 B.C. This kind of flint is found in Poland only in the Świętokrzyski region near such localities as Krzemionki, Ożarów, Iłża and Śródborze. Striped flint belongs to semi-precious stones and is willingly used by jewelers who set it in silver. It's become fashionable in many countries and is considered as stone providing energy, power, and having medicinal properties. It's often called the stone of optimism. There are many hypothesis explaining how the flint came into being. One of them says that it originated from huge colonies of dead marine sponges that lived in the Jurassic seas. While the organic remains were discomposing, the silicone dioxide was released and it assumed a concentric shape round the crystallizing core.
Tokarnia Heritage Park
The main exhibition of the Museum of Kielecka Village is the Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia, which is located on the E77 route leading from Kielce to Cracow. In the picturesquely located in the Czarna Nida river bend over 70-hectare area, the most treasured vintage buildings from the turn of the 18th and the19th centuries wooden architecture from the territory of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, the Krakowsko- Częstochowska Upland, Sandomierska Upland and Nidziańska Basin have been gathered. These are e.g. homesteads, small-town buildings, a manor house, farm buildings, country industry monuments and sacred buildings. The most interesting places to visit are: the manor house in Suchedniów dating from 1856, the manor granary in Złota built in 1719 and the baroque Church dating from 1761 dedicated to the Madonna of Consolation of Rogów on the Vistula. Interiors of the nineteenth-century cottages and craftman’s workshops, the chemist’s, the small shop and the tailor’s, the exhibition of a village school from the interwar period, the collection of sculptures on the exhibition called To preserve for posterity.
Are not very tall, a beautiful and unique in Europe outcrop of very old Cambrian rocks (500 million years old). Within about one kilometre, in the steep, occasionally high (60 m) edge of Vistula valley there are numerous bassets of Cambrian shale, cut through with a net of rifts and set-offs. The whole area is covered with a loess layer. The slopes of the Pepper Mountains are part of a geological-floristic reserve (18 ha). Also some groups of steppe plants are protected here, e.g. a scrub cherry-tree, a needlegrass, a silver speedwell and a yarrow. The peculiarities are the clumps of 15 species of wild rose with a rare endemic Rosa Wagae.
Foto: Ewa Sierokosz