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Siedlce, Our New Home

Mazovia, the Heart of Poland

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Visiting the streets of Siedlce

Visiting the streets of Siedlce

We moved to our new temporary home in Poland in June.
The history of Siedlce covers over 475 years. The first mention of the city comes from 1448. Siedlce was granted city rights in 1547, and until 1807 it was the private property of the Gniewoszów family: in the first half of the 17th century it was the Olędzkie Family, and from the second half of the 17th century until the beginning of the 19th century it belonged to the Ogiński Family. After the death of Alexandra Ogińska in 1798, the city remained in the possession of the Czartoryski family (from which she came). The Czartoryskis ceded the city to the Austrian government in 1807 in exchange for another part of land closer to Lublin. Thus, the city ceased to be private property.

Visiting the parks and gardens of Siedlce

Visiting the parks and gardens of Siedlce

Siedlce has never been an industrial city, but instead, there were small-scale crafts in the city (tailoring and shoemaking). The Siedlce industry was limited to a few small factories. Trade developed a lot.

We have visited many streets and squares in Siedlce and liked the city. It is full of monuments and memorials, stores and cafes and has a great pond for recreation.

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Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary, modelled on the architecture of the great French cathedrals.


A view of the altar, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary, Siedlce

A view of the altar, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary, Siedlce


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The neo-Gothic cathedral was the first sight we visited. Its full name is the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We enjoyed being there, and now visit it every day. We either stay there for a liturgy or simply stay to pray like dozens of other people.

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Like in many other Polish churches and cathedrals, there is a replica of the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa.
It is often called "The Black Madonna of Częstochowa"

According to the official city information, the foundation stone for the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was consecrated on October 10, 1905. The construction started in the spring of 1906, and was completed in the autumn of 1912. Built in neo-Gothic style, the temple in Siedlce is modelled on the architecture of the great French cathedrals. It has a Latin cross floor plan and all the characteristic elements of the style such as two towers on the façade, a cross-ribbed vault, three naves, and a transverse nave called the transept. On December 8, 1912, the new church was blessed by the parish priest and construction supervisor, Józef Scipio del Campo. It was consecrated in 1913 by the bishop of Lublin, Franciszek Jaczewski. The cathedral is located in Bishop Jan Świrski Street. Church services have been held there ever since. The locals are justly proud of their cathedral.
The neo-Gothic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary has two towers, and both are 75 meters high. Lovers of art (not only church art) visit the building that stands opposite the cathedral - the diocesan museum with a canvas called “Extasy of Saint Francis”. This is Poland’s only work painted by the famous Greek painter Domenikos Theotokopulosa aka “El Greco”. We could not miss the chance and were interested in visiting the unique museum.

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The stained glass windows of the Cathedral in Siedlce

The stained glass windows of the Cathedral in Siedlce


During World War II, stained glass windows were destroyed and later they were restored. The church was thoroughly renovated over the years, epecially in 1997-1998 before the pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II in 1999.

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Tuscany Column, Siedlce

This is a peculiar monument of Siedlce. It is called the Tuscan Column. Not because it is from Tuscany, it is simply the name of the architectural style. It stands at the exit of Mieczysław Asłanowicz Street. It was built in 1783 at the request of Princess Aleksandra Ogińska, the aunt of the famous Polish composer Michael Ogiński, before the expected visit of King Stanisław August Poniatowski. The impressive column is crowned with a Baroque crucifix on a sphere. The column, which is the original signpost, was placed on the axis of the aforementioned street leading, as in the eighteenth century, to the Ogiński residence.

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This late-Baroque column was erected in 1783 by the then proprietress of the town of Siedlce, Aleksandra Ogińska, in connection with the planned visit of King Stanisław August Poniatowski, the Duchess's cousin. Located on the axis leading to the main entrance gate, it was to show the way to the procession. The king stayed in Siedlce from 20 to 25 July 1783 with his brother Michael, the Russian ambassador Stackelberg and a 200-person court entourage. The Duchess presented her palace and the new lavish park to him in the form of a great theatrical production.
Stanisław August Poniatowski maintained close contacts with the Siedlce court. Among other things, it was on his order that the architect Joachim Hempel rebuilt the palace in the years 1776 - 1782. Princess Aleksandra Ogińska also took an active part in political life. Taking advantage of her kinship with the king, she obtained privileges for her city, but also protégés of her friends in higher offices.

A view of  the former palace of the Oginskis, Siedlce

A view of the former palace of the Oginskis, Siedlce


The former palace of the Oginskis, Siedlce

The former palace of the Oginskis, Siedlce


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Approaching the Oginskis Palace, Siedlce / In front of the Oginskis Palace, Siedlce
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Siedlce is also known for its princely palace that is called the Ogińskis Palace today. Now it is the seat of the Rector's Office of the University of Natural Sciences and Humanities. The history of the palace building dates back to 1730, when it was built of bricks by Kazimierz Czartoryski to replace the old wooden mansions. The palace was renovated by Michał Fryderyk Czartoryski, the son of Kazimierz Czartoryski. In the years 1779-1781, another renovation was commissioned by Aleksandra Ogińska, the aunt of the famous Polish composer Michael Ogiński. The palace was thoroughly rebuilt by architect Stanisław Zawadzki and received a classicist body and décor.

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Princess Oginska bust inside the former palace of the Oginskis, Siedlce

In the times of Princess Aleksandra Ogińska, Siedlce became one of the leading centers of court culture in Poland. It was well-known for the cultural and artistic events at the palace of Aleksandra Ogińska.
The duchess ran an open palace and was very hospitable, and she was very sad when there were not many guests with her, therefore she enjoyed surrounding herself with people. Many prominent representatives of the Polish people visited the estate: Branicki, Potocki, national heroes including Tadeusz Kościuszko, poets of the Enlightenment: Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Franciszek Kniaźnin, Franciszek Karpiński, as well as King Stanisław August Poniatowski. In 1798, after the death of Alexandra Ogińska, the Ogińskis estate was inherited by Izabela Czartoryska, who ceded it to the Austrian authorities in 1807 in exchange for another one in Lublin region. Today, the palace is administered by the Podlasie Academy.
Now there is an analemmatic sundial in front of the former palace courtyard. You can read the information bard with instruction of how to read the time:

The old drinking water fountain in Siedlce

The old drinking water fountain in Siedlce

  1. In the middle of the clock there is an 8-shaped figure, called analemma. Find the point in the analemma corresponding to today's date. The months are marked with dark stripes. The dates within each month should be determined by proportion, e.g. the 15th day of the month lies in the middle of the stripe, and the first day of the month is at the beginning of the stripe, etc.
  2. Set your feet on the selected date of the date in such a way that the point is exactly inside under the feet.
  3. Stand traight and look at your shadow, read the hour on the hour scale.
How to read the times of sunrise and sunset in Siedlce?

  1. Set your feet on the date for which you want to read the time of sunrise or sunset.
  2. Look towards the sunrise marker. On the extension of the vision line, read the approximate time of sunrise on the clock shield.
  3. By standing on the same point, turn towards the sunset marker. At the extension of the vision line, read the sunset time. The hours of sunrise and sunsets designated in this way relate to summer time.
How to designate places of sunrise and sunset on the horizon in Siedlce?

  1. Set your feet on the sunset marker.
  2. Look at the date points on the analemma, for which you want to designate the place of sunset. On the extension of the vision line to the horizon you will find the desired point. Similarly, use the sunrise marker to determine the place of sunrise over the horizon for a specific date.

A spring walk in Alexandria Park, Siedlce

A spring walk in Alexandria Park, Siedlce


Siedlce Regional Museum is in the former Town Hall today

Siedlce Regional Museum is in the former Town Hall today

The town hall was erected in the years 1763-1773 on the initiative of the then owners of the town - the princely Czartoryski family. It is one of the most beautiful examples of this type of construction in Poland. It is famous for the figure of Atlas decorating the obelisk helmet roof of the town hall tower. Certainly, the impressive brick building was erected thanks to the efforts of the Czartoryskis, who took over the Siedlce estate after the Olędzki family in the second half of the 17th century.
The town hall, with its original form, is considered to be one of the most interesting town hall buildings in Poland. It was designed by Jan Zygmunt Deybl and was erected in the years 1763-1766, on the site of the previous wooden town halls destroyed by fires. The building was erected on a cruciform plan. Its wings were intended for stalls and shops, while administrative rooms were located in the centrally located part of the building. The town hall was partially destroyed destroyed during fires in 1784 and 1789, and also during World War II.

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The statue of Eve (to the left of the entrance ) and Adam (to the right of the entrance) at Siedlce Regional Museum.
The sculptures in front of the building depict Adam and Eve. However, there is no certainty that the monuments depict Adam and Eve. They should be merely treated as allegoric sculptures. Both figures represent late baroque style, also called rococo, which was characterized by expressive pathos, dynamics and theatrical gestures.
The sculptures had been neither maintained nor renovated for many years. The atmospheric factors had also caused much damage to the monuments. As a result, they became extremely dilapidated and can scare visitors instead of delighting them with their expressive forms.

At the entrance to Siedlce Regional Museum

At the entrance to Siedlce Regional Museum


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At the time when Aleksandra Ogińska née Czartoryska (1730-1798) was the owner of the town , the commercial part of the building was expanded.
The building is famous for its sculpture of Atlas that crowns the obelisk-shaped dome of the town hall tower. The Siedlce Atlas from the town hall tower has its own name - "Jacek", which is transferred to the entire building called by the local residents "Ratusz pod Jaciem" (“the City Hall under Yatsek”). According to a local legend, Aleksandra Ogińska's butler, whose name was Jacek (“Yatsek” in Enhlish), posed for the Atlas statue crowning the town hall.
The building of the Regional Museum in Siedlce occupies the old buildings of the Town Hall now. On its northern wall, there is a memorial plaque commemorating the death of dozens of teachers from the Siedlce region, victims of the Nazi occupation. In front of the former town hall, near its western part, there is a fountain commemorating the cooperation of Siedlce with the Italian city of Pescantina.

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Yatsek, one of the symbols of Siedlce

The history of the Siedlce museum dates back to 1928. After World War II, in 1967, the museum received its seat in the old town hall. It was called the Museum of the Podlasie, and now it is known as the Regional Museum in Siedlce.
The museum collections include the exhibits in the fields of art, ethnography, archaeology and history. The exhibits illustrate the life of the former Siedlce Voivodeship and the Bug River areas (Łosice and Sokołów counties).

Old family photoes exhibition at the Regional Museum, Siedlce

Old family photoes exhibition at the Regional Museum, Siedlce


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Old family photo exhibition at the Regional Museum, Siedlce


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The collection of the Regional Museum in Siedlce has almost a thousand glass negatives made at the Department of Adolf Ganiewski (Gancwola) in 1895-1942. Photographs are a window through which you can look into the past.
We saw the exhibition “In the lens of Adolf Ganiewski (Gancwola)" that presented a lot of family photographs taken before 1915. They present couples as well as families with children. They are proof of the national and religious diversity of the Siedlce region, where Poles, Russians and Jews lived together. There are also photos of the people, who visited the city. We saw the officials of the Russian authorities, soldiers and officers, Orthodox clergy and civilians. Women are dressed in elegant outfits, sometimes they wear fancy hats. We also paid attention to the wigs on the heads of pious married Jewish women. Adults were often accompanied by children, in many cases in greater number.

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We should bear in mind that then people did not get photographed as often as they do today. The price and the difficult-to-use equipment was an obstacle. Going to the photographer was like a holiday; it was necessary to prepare, to dress properly and during the taking of the photo it was not allowed to slim for some time. That is why it happened that the images of young children were blurred. They had to move when the shutter button was pressed. Wedding and baptism photographs had a special emotional value. However, each photograph made in those years was a souvenir for the future.

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Old family photoes exhibition at the Regional Museum, Siedlce

The presented photographs are usually anonymous. The museum employees do not the names of the people, who were photographed. Therefore, the museum employees had a great request to the visitors: if we discover a person known to us on a photograph, we should share that information with the museum, and the employees would save the information, thus enriching the knowledge about the region, and people in photographs will cease to be nameless to historians and visitors.

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Old family photoes exhibition at the Regional Museum, Siedlce

All photographs posted at the exhibition come from the collections of the Regional Museum in Siedlce and were created in the atelier of Adolf Ganiewski (Gancwola) except for his fivefold portrait created by modern specialists.

The modern fivefold portrait of the great photograper  Adolf Ganiewski, Siedlce

The modern fivefold portrait of the great photograper Adolf Ganiewski, Siedlce

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The photographer Adolf Ganiewski (Gancwol) was born in a Jewish family on December 27, 1870. He was the son of Maria née Grundhand and Herman Gancwolów. In 1900 he switched to Calvinism. There were several photographers among his relatives. He opened his photo factory in 1895. In later years it was located at ul. Ogrodowa 29 (currently 33 Sienkiewicz Street). In the years 1910-1912 the photographer performed under the banner of "Jean Szymborski" and J. Szimborski ", and in 1912-1925 he returned to the original name of the A. Gancwol Factory. In 1925 he changed his name to Ganiewski and started signing his photographs as "A. Ganiewski".
He photographed people, celebrations, but also architecture. From among several photo studios operating before World War II in Siedlce, it was from his photo factory that the most photographs have survived.
In addition to taking photos, Ganiewski also manufactured postcards. In the years 1923-1930, he was also the head of the "Światowid" cinema at 9 Piękna Street (now 7 Pułaski Street). He conducted cultural and social activities. Before 1915, he was a member of the Siedlce Society of Mutual Credit, which supported the development of trade, industry and agriculture. In 1906, he was among the initiators of the creation of the Podlasie Junior High School - the first Polish school in Siedlce in years.

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In 1912, he tried to initiate the establishment of a scholarship at this institution, which, however, was not implemented because the Russian authorities did not accept that idea. From 1908, he belonged to the Siedlce branch of the Polish Society of Sightseeing. And during World War I, he was active in the Citizens' Committee, which aimed at maintaining order in Siedlce and helping its residents in difficult war times.
He also belonged to “The Light Cultural Society", as well as to the Committee of the Podlasie District of the Polish Red Cross. He also financed various types of charity and patriotic initiatives. In 1939, he funded a machine gun manufacture for the Polish Army.
During the second world war, the Nazis forced his to live in the ghetto. However, he received a pass that allowed him to reach the photographic factory and to work there. On August 22, 1942, the Nazis liquidated the Siedlce ghetto. Ganiewski, together with other Jews, was sent to the Treblinka extermination camp, where he died on August 25, 1942.
There is Adolf Ganiewski Street in the southern part of the city.

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The Polish flag is often flown alongside with the Mazovian flag.
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We saw the city flag of Siedlce at every lamp post during the Days of Siedlce, the city festival, which we were happy to attend. The city flag has an unusual 2:5 proportion.

Siedlce coat-of-arms

Siedlce coat-of-arms

Siedlce has a stylized Lithuanian Pogoń (Knight-in-pursuit) coat of arms. The coat of arms represents an armed silver knight with a left profile, rushing on a silver steed. The knight has a sword in his right hand, and a blue shield in his left hand. The shield has a double golden cross. The knight’s saddle cloth, bridle and steed girths are blue. There is a silver fortress wall with three silver towers, the middle of which is higher, under the front hooves of the steed, whereas the windows and the gate are black.

The city coat-of-arms made of flowers at the wall of the old city prison in Pilsudski Street, Siedlce

The city coat-of-arms made of flowers at the wall of the old city prison in Pilsudski Street, Siedlce


Mazovia, the Heart of Poland

Mazovia, the Heart of Poland


Some window shopping at Siedlce Gallery Shopping Mall

Some window shopping at Siedlce Gallery Shopping Mall


A cup of coffee and a cake at Siedlce Gallery Shopping Mall

A cup of coffee and a cake at Siedlce Gallery Shopping Mall


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"Cukiernia z Kolonowej" at Galeria Siedlce
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KFC exhibition at KFC Restaurant, Galeria Shopping Mall, Siedlce

KFC exhibition at KFC Restaurant, Galeria Shopping Mall, Siedlce


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Old wooden houses (left), more modern and ultra-modern houses in Siedlce (right)
My wife and I like such wrought-iron fences and flowerbeds, Siedlce

My wife and I like such wrought-iron fences and flowerbeds, Siedlce


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Posted by Vic_IV 14:23 Archived in Poland Tagged masovia mazovia siedlce oginski

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Comments

It looks like a very beautiful place.

by irenevt

Yes, Irene, you are right. Lots of things to see and to do here. We have just started our exploration...

by Vic_IV

What a lovely city you are living in now! The cathedral is impressive and I love the stained glass! And there seems to be lots of greenery around and some interesting history to explore.

by ToonSarah

Yes, Sarah, indeed. We are happy to explore the city and do our best to see as much as we can...

by Vic_IV

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