Before researching our latest trip to Poland, we must admit that we had never heard of Przemśyl, let alone tried to pronounce its name. Przemśyl is a small, but historically significant, city of almost 70,000 inhabitants in south-eastern Poland. It is the second-oldest city in southern Poland (after Kraków) and appears to date from as early as the 8th century. Przemyśl is in an ideal geographic location, laying in an area connecting mountains and lowlands known as the Przemyśl Gate, with open lines of transportation, and fertile soil. It also lies on the navigable San River. Important trade routes that connected Central and Eastern Europe passed through Przemyśl and ensured the city’s importance and prosperity.

Przemyśl has had a tumultuous history and has been fought over by Poles, Russians, Austrians, Hungarians and Swedes, to name a few. By the end of the 19th century, the city even became a fortress, indeed it was the third largest fortress in Europe at that time. Around the city, in a 28 mile circle, 44 forts of various sizes were built (many of which can still be visited), with the fortress accommodating up to 120,000 soldiers! The ravages of the two world wars and life under communism has taken its toll on Przemyśl, however, and it is not as significant as it once was. Perhaps this is why it is not considered a tourist destination, certainly not out with Poland itself. Nonetheless, we found this sleepy, but impressive city a real gem, with a great deal to experience.

Before exploring this impressive city, you will want to master the pronunciation of its name – if you call it SH EH – m ih – sh uh l, you are not going to go far wrong! We also noted that some inhabitants pronounce the ‘P’, but very softly and almost inaudibly. Good luck vocalizing the name!


5 Unmissable Attractions:

Krasiczyn Castle (Zamek Krasickich) – Krasiczyn Castle is a Late Renaissance castle situated close to the historical city of Przemysl. The first thing that made the castle stand out for us compared to the other wonderful castles of Poland were the decorations that adorned the castle walls. Made up of images of Polish kings as well as biblical and hunting scenes. We were interested to find out that the four corner towers had their own names: Divine, Papal, Royal and Noble. Those names reflect the hierarchy of the world, as seen by the castle’s founders. The guided tour of the castle is very interesting and informative, and there are nice walks in grounds of the castle. There is even an aged ginkgo biloba growing in the park has magical properties – if one walks around it three times, your wish will come true. Well, not sure that worked, as we are still waiting to win the lottery, but it was a fun distraction just the same!

Address: Krasiczyn 179, 37-741 Krasiczyn, Poland


National Museum of Przemysl Land  – The National Museum of the Przemyśl Land was founded in 1909 but got a major revamp in 2006 when the new main building in Berka Joselewicza Square was constructed. The museum has quite an extensive display of local history on display, from prehistoric periods, through the Middle Ages and into modern times. There are sections on social history, iconographic materials, contemporary art and natural science. The museum also has an excellent section on the city’s roll in World War One and really conveys the momentous conflict that raged back and forth in this area. Handily, there is also a large public car park right outside the museum.

Address: Plac płk. Berka Joselewicza 1, 37-700 Przemyśl, Poland


The Old Town Square – The Old Town Square was built around the second half of the 14th century. It is quite an oddly laid out square, since it has been built on a significant slope, but that probably just adds to its character. The beautiful buildings that line the square were built around the turn of the 19th century. While in the square, make sure you seek out Švejk’s Monument. The monument, which was unveiled in 2008, is of the Imperial and Royal Good Soldier Švejk, sitting on an ammunition box with his favorite beer-mug and a pipe. It seems to be the custom to rub his nose judging by the crowd of people that surrounded him!

Address: Rynek 1, Przemyśl, Poland


Cathedral Basilica church. St. John the Baptist and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary  – The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was built in the Gothic style in the 15th and 16th centuries in place of the older Romanesque one, whose remnants have been preserved in the vaults. The main attraction for us, however, was the 71-metre high belfry, at the side of the church. In the upper part of the belfry, on the level of clock faces, is a viewpoint with a beautiful panorama of the city, probably the best view in the city.

Address: Zamkowa 3, 37-700 Przemyśl, Poland


Zniesienie and Tatar’s Barrow – Zniesienie is the name of the hill that towers over the town. The hill is held in high regard by the locals as this was the sight of significant battle where the Tartars were defeated. On the hilltop, there is also the mysterious Tartar’s Barrow. As legend says, it was built by the Tartars as a mound of the Khan who was killed in battle here. Since then, the hilltop became part of the nineteenth century fortress defences and various disused military entrenchments can still be seen here. The main reason for coming to the hill, however, is the panoramic views that the visitor gets over the Sandomierz Basin and San and Dniestr Plateau, as well as the Sanocko-Turczańskie Mountains and Przemyśl Foothills in the Carpathians can be observed from here. There is also the impressively large monument of Krzyż Zawierzenia (Cross of Trust) to be seen while on the hill and there is even a cable way and a tobogganing run.

Address: Przemysława, 37-720 Przemyśl, Poland


10 Hidden Gems:

Franciscan Monastery (Klasztor Franciszkanów)  – Just a couple of minutes from the square, the Franciscan Monastery was built in the 18th century in place of an old Gothic church, and it combines elements of the late Baroque and Classicism. We found the blue hues of the altar particularly striking, although it could be a little gaudy for some.

Address: Franciszkańska 2a, Przemyśl, Poland


Museum of the Przemysl Fortress  (Muzeum Twierdzy Przemyśl) – The small  Museum of the Przemyśl Fortress houses collections coming from the area of the former Przemyśl Fortress. The exhibits include weapons, soldiers’ equipment, old photos, pieces of armoured equipment from the forts, artillery bullets and fuses as well as various personal and usable items. We found that the exhibits were very interesting, but this museum should be combined with The National Museum of the Przemyśl Land, which tell the story of the fortress in a clearer way.

 Address: Katedralna 6, 37-700 Przemyśl, Poland


Cathedral of St. John the Baptist  – Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is in the old Baroque church of the Sacred Heart of Christ built for the Jesuit order in the 17th century. Perhaps surprisingly, since we were in southern Poland, this now a Greek Catholic church, where the Eastern rite is practices.   

Address: Katedralna, Przemyśl, Poland


Underground of Przemysl  – Almost hidden at the side of the City Hall in the Old Town Square is the entrance to the Przemyśl underground. These underground vaults were part of the original, medieval development of the city. The two-storey cellars and part of the new section of the 17th century sewerage system is available for sightseeing. We take refrigerators for granted these days, but back in the medieval times, these cellars were used for storing food and drink items such as wine, mead, salt, salted meat, meat products, back fat, produce from the land and dairy products were also stored there.

Address: Rynek 1, Przemyśl, Poland


Carmelite Church (Klasztor Karmelitov Bosych w Prezemyslu) – The Carmelite Church and Monastery was founded in the early 17th century and towers over the Old Town. The interiors of this church make it a must see when visiting Przemyśl

Address: Karmelicka 1, Przemyśl, Poland


Reformed Franciscan Church (Parafia oo. Franciszkanów pw. Św. Antoniego z Padwy)  – The Reformed Franciscan Church is quite small but has a really interesting history. It was built during the 17th century and was once surrounded by a defensive wall which was part of the city defences. After a time, however, the city walls were pulled down and the moat which surrounded it filled in. This led to the ground level being raised which now makes the church look as if it has sunk down into the ground!

Address: Jagiellońska 2, 37-700 Przemyśl, Poland


Przemysl Railway Station – An interesting little deviation on our tour of Przemyśl was to go and check out the architecture of the railway station, which was a minutes’ walk from the Reformed Franciscan Church.  The station was built between 1859 and 1860 and renovated in 1895, and is one of the grandest buildings on the rail line which links Cracow with Lviv.

Address: plac Legionów 1, Przemyśl, Poland


The German 1914-1915 Military Cemetery  – On the southern end of the city, there are three very interesting, but totally different cemeteries bordering each other. The first one that we visited was The German 1914-1915 Military Cemetery, which is a complex of four military cemeteries from World War 1. The fighting throughout the war around the Przemyśl Fortress was vicious and bloody and as a result there are the graves of thousands of soldiers killed during these battles. There are separate cemeteries for the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian armies, and across the road, one for the unidentified soldiers from the Austro-Hungarian army.

Address: Juliusza Słowackiego, Przemyśl, Poland


The Main Cemetery  – Across the road from the World War One graves is the Main Cemetery, which was founded around 1855. There are splendid gravestones of the major figures of the 19th-century Przemyśl many of which are of considerable artistic value. The cemetery must also have one of the best views of any graveyard that we have visited, as it is built on the slopes of the Zniesienie hill and offers a beautiful panorama over the San River valley.

Address: Juliusza Słowackiego, Przemyśl, Poland


The Jewish Cemetery  – The Jewish Cemetery can be found at the foot of the Main Cemetery and can be accessed from Słowackiego Street. The cemetery was founded around 1860 and there are also graves and monuments to commemorate the Jews murdered in World War.

Address: Juliusza Słowackiego, Przemyśl, Poland


Where to Eat:

The Castle Restaurant  – The Castle’s Restaurant, which is within the Krasiczyn Castle, is well known for its traditional polish cuisine and regional specialites.

Address: Krasiczyn 179, 37-741 Krasiczyn, Poland


Ice Cream at Cukiernia Fiore  – Cukiernia Fiore serves some of the best ice cream and desserts in Poland!

Address: Kazimierza Wielkiego 17, 37-700 Przemyśl, Poland


Restauracja C. K. Monarchia  – Restaurant CK Monarchy offers bourgeois Galician cuisine (Galicia is an area of Poland, not to be confused with Galicia in Spain) from pre-war Przemyśl, with many almost forgotten traditional dishes. The interiors are warm and cosy reminiscent of a private pre-war town house. Discrete light and pre-war music create additional atmosphere.

Address: Aleksandra Puszkina 18, 37-700 Przemyśl, Poland


Where to Stay:

Dwór Wapowce – Budget Price – Situated in Wapowce, a small village on the outskirts of Przemyśl, this hotel in a refined building is just a 15-minute drive to the centre of the city.

Address: Wapowce 78 A, 37-700 Wapowce, Poland

Krasiczyn Castle – Moderate Price – The Castle is now a hotel, with 96 beds in the castle, the coach house as well as in the Hunting Pavilion and the Swiss Pavilion.

Address: Krasiczyn 179, 37-741 Krasiczyn, Poland

Hotel Arłamów – Luxury – This remote, upscale hotel in the Bieszczady Mountains is 35 km from the Przemyś and boasts luxury rooms, spa, bowling alley, indoor pool and large gym.

Address: Arłamów, 38-700 Ustrzyki Dolne, Poland


Hints, Tips and Useful Information:

Respect: Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting; an older man will often kiss a woman’s hand. Roman Catholicism plays an important role in daily life and criticism or jokes about religion are not appreciated, despite the general good humour of the people. 

ElectricityElectricity is 230 volts AC, 50Hz and the power plugs and sockets are of type E. 

Currency: Złoty (PLN; symbol zł) = 100 groszy. Notes are in denominations of zł200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. The coins are in denominations of zł5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 groszy. Poland is required under the terms of its accession to the European Union in 2004 to adopt the Euro as its national currency sometime in the future. 

LanguagePolish is the official language. There are a few small German-speaking communities primarily in the southwest. English and, increasingly less so, Russian are also spoken. French is also popular. 

Basic words: 

Thank you – Dziękuję Ci 

Please – Proszę 

Good morning – Dzień dobry 

Good evening – Dobry wieczór 

Yes – Tak 

No – Nie 

Religion of the countryAround 87% of the Polish population are Catholic. 

Telephone dialing code+48 

Emergency numbers: The 112 emergency number is an all-service number. 

Payphones: You can buy telephone cards from post offices, newspaper kiosks and hotel receptions for both domestic and international calls. 

Mobile Telephones: Roaming agreements for mobile phones exist with most international mobile phone companies. 

Water: Mains water is normally chlorinated, and while relatively safe may cause mild abdominal upsets. Bottled water is available everywhere. 

Shopping: What to buy in Poland: 

  • Amber jewelry
  • Beer tankards
  • Gingerbread
  • Żubrówka– bison grass vodka 

Cuisine: What to try in Poland: 

  • Borscht – beetroot soup
  • Zurek – soup which includes sausage and egg
  • Smalec– lard, served with bread 
  • Kielbasa – sausage 
  • Gołąbki– minced meat, onions and rice wrapped in a cabbage leaf 
  • Pierogis – sweet or savourydumplings 
  • Golonka Pieczona– roasted pork knuckle 
  • Bigos (Hunter’s Stew) – cabbage, sauerkraut, tomatoes, onions and meat

Smoking: Smoking is banned in public places, including railway stations, restaurants and bars.  

Alcohol ConsumptionBuyers or persons being served must be at least 18. Drinking in public places, with the exception of designated drinking zones, is illegal regardless of age. 

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