As you know I am in Poland now for more than 3 years and in those 3 years I heard multiple times how one day I should try and go to visit the monastery in Czestochowa. I should visit Jasna Gora, climb to the top of the tower of the monastery, enjoy the wonderful view and pray at the famous Black Madonna. Well, guess what?! I have made it, this November, with the great help of my awesome better half and husband, to go see Jasna Gora and even if we were there just a few hours, just to visit the monastery, we promised we would come back one day :)
The weather was cold and windy and foggy but still the view from the tower is amazing! and I managed to snap some quick panoramic photos with my new baby-toy from Marek - the awesome and very friendly Samsung Galaxy S4. True it will not replace my love for cameras and lenses but it does come in handy for short trips ;) and I recommend it with all my heart, especially when it comes to panoramic pictures ;) So stay put and check out the pictures below. The regular ones are done with the camera, no filter, and you will of course bump into the panoramic ones at the end. Still shaky a bit, as these actually are my first panoramas, but I will learn more :)
The motto of the city is: Jasne, że Częstochowa (Częstochowa it's clear). The name of Częstochowa means Częstoch's place and comes from a personal name of Częstoch mentioned in the medieval documents also as Częstobor and Częstomir.Variations of the name include Czanstochowa used in 1220, and Częstochow used in 1382 and 1558.
A part of today's city called Częstochówka was a separate municipality mentioned in the 14th century as the Old Częstochowa (Antiquo Czanstochowa, 1382) and Częstochówka in 1470-80. The city was also known in German as Tschenstochau and in Russian as Ченстохов (Chenstokhov).
According to archaeological findings, the first Slavic settlement in the location of Częstochowa was established in the late 11th century. It was first mentioned in historical documents from 1220, when Bishop of Kraków Iwo Odrowąż made a list of properties of the Mstów monastery. Two villages, Częstochowa and Częstochówka were mentioned in the document. Both of them belonged to the basic territorial unit of Slavic tribes (opole), with its capital at Mstów.
Częstochówka was located on a hill on which the Jasna Góra Monastery was later built. In the late 13th century Częstochowa became the seat of a Roman Catholic parish church, which was subjected to the Lelów deanery. The village was located in northwestern corner of Kraków Land, Lesser Poland, near the Royal Castle at Olsztyn. Częstochowa lay along a busy merchant road from Lesser Poland to Greater Poland.
The village was ruled by a starosta, who stayed at the Olsztyn Castle. It is not known when Częstochowa was granted town charter, as no documents have been preserved. It happened some time between 1356 - 1377. In 1502, King Alexander Jagiellon granted a new charter, based on Magdeburg rights to Częstochowa.
In 1382 the Paulist monastery of Jasna Góra was founded by Vladislaus II of Opole - the Polish Piast prince of Upper Silesia. Two years later the monastery received its famous Black Madonna icon of the Virgin Mary and in subsequent years became a centre of pilgrimage, contributing to the growth of the adjacent town.
|Huge posters depicting the late Pope John Paul 2nd are posted on the wall of the monastery|
Częstochowa prospered in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, due to efforts of Sigismund I the Old, the future king of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At that time, Sigismund ruled the Duchy of Głogów, and frequently visited Częstochowa on his way to the Duchies of Silesia (1498, 1502, 1502, 1503, 1505, 1505, 1506).
In 1504, Częstochowa was granted the right to collect tolls on the Warta river bridge. In 1508, Częstochowa was allowed to organize one fair a year; in 1564, the number of fairs was increased to three annually, and in 1639 to six. In the year 1631, Częstochowa had 399 houses, but at the same time, several residents died in a plague, after which 78 houses were abandoned.
In the first half of the 17th century, kings of the House of Vasa turned the Jasna Góra Monastery into a modern Dutch-style fortress, which was one of the pockets of Polish resistance against the Swedish armies during Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655.
The town of Częstochowa itself was almost completely destroyed by Swedish soldiers. It has been estimated that the town lost 50% of population, and 60% of houses. Nevertheless, the destruction was less severe than at other towns in the area (Przyrów, Olsztyn and Mstów). It took several years for Częstochowa to recover from extensive losses.
As late as in the 1680s there still were ruined houses in the town. At the same time, the Jasna Góra Monastery prospered. On February 27, 1670, the wedding of king Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki with princess Eleanor of Austria took place here.
Furthermore, in 1682 the celebration of 300 anniversary of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa brought thousands of pilgrims from both Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Silesia. The Jewish community in Częstochowa came into existence by about 1700.
During the Great Northern War, Częstochowa was captured by Swedish army on August 11, 1702. In February 1703 Swedes besieged the monastery, but failed to seize it. In April 1705 the Swedes returned, and appeared at the monastery again in September 1709. Unable to capture the fortified stronghold, they looted villages in the area, set Częstochowa on fire and left towards Wieluń. At that time, a village of Częstochówk also existed next to Częstochowa.
The village belonged to the monastery and quickly developed. In 1717 it was granted town charter, and its name was changed into Nowa Częstochowa (New Częstochowa). The town was completely destroyed during the Bar Confederation. On February 8, 1769, the monastery was seized by rebels of the Bar Confederation, commanded by Kazimierz Pułaski. Soon the stronghold was besieged by Russians under German-born General Johann von Drewitz. The Russians gave up on January 15, 1771.
In the Polish Defensive War of 1939, Częstochowa was defended by the 7th Infantry Division, part of northern wing of Kraków Army. After the Battle of Mokra and other battles, Polish forces withdrew, and the Wehrmacht entered the city on Sunday, September 3, 1939. Częstochowa was renamed into Tschenstochau, and incorporated into the General Government.
Monday, September 4, 1939, became known as Bloody Monday, when 227 people (205 ethnic Poles and 22 Jews) were killed by the Germans (some estimates of victims put the number at more than 1,000; 990 ethnic Poles and 110 Jews). German occupiers from the very beginning initiated a plan of cultural and physical extermination of the Polish nation.
|Finished the panoramas, now Marek can take the lead :)|
Częstochowa was a city county (Stadkreis Tschenstochau), part of Radom District of the General Government. The city was located near the border with Upper Silesia Province, and in its area operated units of the Home Army and National Armed Forces (NSZ). On April 20, 1943, a NZS unit attacked local office of the Bank Emisyjny w Polsce.
After the collapse of the Warsaw Uprising, Częstochowa briefly was the capital of the Polish Underground State. In the autumn 1944, Germans fortified the city, preparing for a lengthy defence. On January 16, 1945, however, the Wehrmacht retreated after one day of fighting.
On April 9, 1941, a ghetto for Jews was created. During World War II approximately 45,000 of Częstochowa's Jews, almost the entire Jewish community living here, were killed by the Germans.
Life in Nazi-occupied Częstochowa is depicted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, by Art Spiegelman, the son of a Jewish Częstochowa resident. Before the Holocaust, Częstochowa was considered a great Jewish center in Poland. By the end of WWII, the town was essentially Judenrein.
Due to the communist idea of fast industrialisation, the inefficient steel mill was significantly expanded and named after Bolesław Bierut. This, combined with the growing tourist movement, led to yet another period of fast city growth, concluded in 1975 with the creation of a separate Częstochowa Voivodeship.
In the immediate post-war period, Częstochowa belonged to Kielce Voivodeship (1945–1950), and then the city was transferred to Katowice Voivodeship. In the People's Republic of Poland, Częstochowa emerged not only as an industrial, but also academic center of the region.
The city expanded, with first tram lines opened in 1959. On January 1, 1977, several villages and settlements were annexed by Częstochowa. As a result, the area of the city expanded from 90 to 160 square kilometres (35 to 62 sq mi).
In modern times, Pope John Paul II, a native son of Poland, prayed before the Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Częstochowa in 1983 and again in 1987, 1991, 1997 and 1999. On August 15, 1991, John Paul II was named Honorary Citizen of Czestochowa. On May 26, 2006, the city was visited by Pope Benedict XVI.
|A View From The Tower|
Currently the city is one of the main tourist attractions of the area and is sometimes called the little Nuremberg because of the number of souvenir shops. It attracts millions (4.5 mln - 2005) of tourists and pilgrims every year. The Black Madonna of Częstochowa, housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery, is a particularly popular attraction.
Throughout the centuries, many buildings have been erected, most of them now have status of tourist attractions and historical monuments since Częstochowa was established already in the Middle Ages. Among those attractions are old townhouses and the urban core of the city centre. The most popular with religious tourism as mentioned above is the Jasna Góra Monastery.
There are typically numerous pilgrims and tourists at Jasna Góra Monastery, and the volume of excited voices can be high. However, upon entering the Monastery, it is expected etiquette for visitors to be silent or as quiet as possible out of respect.
Often, there is a long line of people who wait to approach the shrine of Our Lady. Upon arriving at the location of the shrine where one would pass in front of the icon of Our Lady, it is expected and a sign of respect for pilgrims to drop to their knees, and traverse the anterior of the shrine on their knees.
DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that all text and information concerning the historical dates and facts were taken from Wikipedia but can also be found in the Jasna Góra Monastery museum, which is quite extensive and should be visited if ever you are in the area.
As a downside, you will not be able to take pictures or record anything but you will be able to see pieces that not even the Wawel Castles treasury does not hold! Not to mention the entrance was for free and we spent around 2-3 hours in the monastery :) If you are with kids, they may get bored as they would not be allowed to touch anything, but if you are into history, I recommend it with all my heart!
P.S. If you manage to get to Jasna Góra Monastery make sure you see: the Black Madonna, the museums inside the monastery, the small crypts, take a tour of the monastery and see the 12 stops of the cross (you will pass by the canons and by the stand where the Pope blessed the people) and make sure you save the best for last - the view from the tower! Take a deep breath and climb those stairs! and once done, enjoy the view, even if it is windy :) trust me, if you did the Koln Cathedral this tower will be a piece of cake ;)
The Twisted Red LadyBug Who Loves Towers :)