St. Martin & Nicholas Cathedral

Bydgoszcz, Poland

Bydgoszcz's oldest remaining church is a truly exquisite example of the so-called Vistulan Gothic style, and is, in a word, breathtaking. Parts of the building date back to middle of the 15th century, and the exterior is worthy of more plaudits than many comparable churches, but what really sets this church apart from the rest is its glorious interior.

Those who've visited St. Mary's Basilica in Kraków will recognise the design instantly, and that's hardly surprising as the amazing colours that cover the walls and ceilings are credited to an original idea by none other than Poland's creative genius Stanisław Wyspiański, although the actual design is believed to have been dreamt up by one of Wyspiański's students, Stefan Cybichowski. Painted between 1922 and 1925 by Henryk Jackowski, the polychrome masterpiece has its roots in the modernist ideas of the Młoda Polska(Young Poland) art movement, who aimed to present a truly Polish vision of the world and who did a truly remarkable job of it here. Unmissable, the combination of Gothic architecture, Baroque altars and outrageous colours simply has to be seen to be believed.

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Farna 10, Bydgoszcz, Poland
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Founded: 15th century
Category: Religious sites in Poland

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Beckov Castle

The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.

The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.

The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.

The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.

Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.

The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.