Poznaj lokalne zabytki

Wyraź zgodę na lokalizację i oglądaj zabytki w najbliższej okolicy

Zmień ustawienia przeglądarki aby zezwolić na pobranie lokalizacji
This website is using cookies. Learn more.

Przemyśl - zespół staromiejski - Zabytek.pl

Przemyśl - the Old Town complex

Przemyśl - zespół staromiejski

History monuments Przemyśl


woj. podkarpackie, pow. Przemyśl, gm. Przemyśl

The spatial layout and historic complex of Przemyśl, preserved to our times, is an urban spatial structure with unique values on the Polish scale, mainly in terms of history.

Already in the 11th century Przemyśl was an important administrative centre of King Bolesław I the Brave’s state. Next, it became a capital of the Rościsławowicz duchy, the royal town and an important administrative centre of the Republic of Poland, a capital of the Przemyśl Land, and a seat of two bishoprics. Traces of settlements from the 12th and 13th century, visible even today, the largely preserved urban arrangement under city charter from the 14th century, relics of Romanesque buildings, the castle hill towering over the city, uniquely large number of high-class monuments of the ecclesiastical Gothic and early modern architecture, as well as numerous monuments of the 19th century architecture attest to the historic potential of the city.

Exceptional urban interiors, including, among others, the Market Square, the Cathedral Square, the square in front of the Carmelite monastery, as well as the brilliant location of the city - connection of the historical complex with the landscape, among others, with the Zniesienie hill massif and the Tatar Mound - are paramount to the specificity and uniqueness of the complex. Geographical location of the city at the interface of cultures also had an impact on the preserved cultural potential, as it triggered its multicultural and multidenominational character, together with the city’s defensive properties in various periods of Polish statehood.

Cultural heritage of Przemyśl is evidence of power, colourfulness and cultural diversity of Republic of Poland of the past. The preserved historic substance with harmonised build-ups attests to the multicultural and multinational history of the city that is over a 1000 years old. Picturesque, terraced location of the city over the valley of the San river, together with the density of the historical buildings form an inimitable panorama that has survived over 250 years in an unchanged form.


The city of Przemyśl was developed in the area of former settlements dating back to 3500-4000 years BCE. Long before the location of the city, Przemyśl had not only been a vibrant centre of state and church authorities, but had also been important for its trade, craft and culture. Location at the meeting point of significant communication arteries was of fundamental importance for the city’s development.

According to Jan Długosz, the hillfort of Przemyśl was established in the 7th century by Duke Przemysław. The hillfort already developed into a town in the 11th century, which is attested by relics of defensive complexes and residential areas. After 1018, presumably in the period when Przemyśl belonged to Poland during the reign of Bolesław I the Brave, an impressive palas with a rotund was erected. Soon after Przemyśl fell into the hands of the Ruthenian state, becoming a capital of a sovereign duchy, later to become an important centre of the Galicia-Volhynia duchy (with a short exception between 1071 and 1086, when it remained under the dominion of Polish rulers - Bolesław II the Generous and Władysław I Herman). At that time Przemyśl functioned as an important religious centre - the orthodox bishopric established around 1100, with the simultaneous development of the Western Church (relics of a rotund preserved in the underground of the Latin Cathedral erected between mid-12th century and mid- 13th century). It remained an important hub in terms of trade between the East and the West. In the 12th, 13th and early 14th century, the vicinity of Przemyśl was an arena of clashes between Ruthenian, Polish and Hungarian dukes as well as Tatar invasions. Along with incorporation of the Ruthenian lands to the Kingdom of Poland by Casimir III the Great in the years 1340-1349, Przemyśl became a royal town and remained one until the end of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In 1345, in place of an old hillfort, the king began the construction of a brick castle with corner fortified towers. The right of charter issued by Władysław II Jagiełło in 1389 marked the ending of the first period of the town’s development, although there are many grounds to believe that the first right of charter had been granted under the reign of the Ruthenian dukes in the early 14th century. In 1375 bishop Eric of Winsen, freshly arriving from Hildesheim, reorganised the Latin diocese incorporated into the Galician metropole. In the 14th century two convents began their activity in Przemyśl: the Franciscan and the Dominican order. In the second half of the 15th century, on the north-eastern side of the castle hill, a monumental, brick-built Latin cathedral was erected and became an architectural landmark of this part of the chartered town.

Nearly all secular buildings were made of wood. Between the 1520s and ca. 1640 the town was surrounded with a system of early modern fortifications including round bastions and four gatehouses: Lwowska, Grodzka, Wodna and Mostowa, as well as curtain walls with nine cylindrical fortified towers or semi-cylindrical round bastions. Until the mid- 19th century that system delimited the territorial scope of the town’s development. In the years 1657-1659 the fortifications underwent modernisation supervised by Giacopo Solari, who introduced bastions to parts of the peripheral walls. The defensive system was also reinforced by castellated monasteries: the one of the Discalced Carmelites in the southern part of the town, erected from 1623, of the Reformers at the Lwowska Gate, erected in the years 1641-1645, and of the Benedictine nuns at the river crossing in Zasanie, erected in the first quarter of the 16th century. Starting from the 16th century, municipal plots were developed with brick tenement houses. An impressive town hall with a tower dominated over the square. In the 16th century the road network connected to the market square and town gates was perpetuated, the Carmelite Hill and Zasanie were covered with buildings, mainly belonging to monastic complexes. The trade and administrative centre consisted of the market square as well as Lwowska Street (currently Casimir the Great Street), Grodzka, Franciszkańska and Wodna.

In the south-eastern part of the chartered town a Ruthenian district Władycze was situated, which functioned as a jurisdiction of Orthodox bishops, followed by Uniate bishops, with a cathedral tserkva and a bishop’s residence. In the north-eastern part of the town there was a Jewish district, upon which towered a synagogue from the 16th century. The south-western part of the town, close to the cathedral square, hosted canonries, manor houses, mansions and a school associated with the Latin cathedral and the bishop’s seat. In the 17th century, the southern part of the town included three churches - of the Discalced Carmelites, of the Jesuits, and of the Franciscans; the western part - monasteries of the Dominican monks and Dominican nuns (destroyed during the Austrian reign). The clearly structured urban layout, preserved to this day, was ultimately shaped until the first quarter of the 17th century.

In the decades that followed, the town’s development became enriched with other monastic complexes: of the Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God (1665-1678), the Latin theological seminary, and a hospital complex with a Church of St Roch. Development of the suburban districts concentrated along the routes running towards the town gates. Przedmieście Lwowskie was built in the east, turning into Ku Błoniu Street and Błonie district; in the north, along trails running to Cracow and Hungary, the Zasanie district was built. However, the densely developed suburbs did not show a clear layout apart from buildings on both sides of the streets.

Numerous wars waged in the 17th century brought about economic decline in the century that followed: town walls deteriorated, the castle was partially demolished and numerous tenement houses stood empty. Nevertheless, new sacral buildings were erected and old ones were remodelled. In the 2nd quarter of the 18th century, the body of the cathedral obtained a Baroque face, while in the third quarter of that century a free-standing belfry was built. At that time the façade of the Jesuit church was enriched by decorations and the towers were extended upwards; in the years 1754-1780 the Late Baroque Franciscan church was erected while in the years 1775-1777 a Late Baroque tower of the cathedral tserkva, without the church itself. Researchers point to the terraced, somewhat theatrical effect of a cascaded arrangement of older Carmelite and Jesuit church complexes reinforced by the construction of the Franciscan church.

As a result of the first partition of Poland, Przemyśl found itself under the Austrian Partition; in 1789 the city council and district court were appointed. New communication routes were delineated at that time, among others, the so-called imperial road passing through Przemyśl along the east-west line, marked by Jarosławska (currently 3 Maja) street, Mostowa (currently Kościuszki) street, the square at the abbey (the so-called Hauptplatz, currently the Dominikański Square), Lwowska street and Lwowskie Przedmieście street. In the 1770s a considerable number of tenement houses at the western frontage of the Market Square were demolished, while the Town Hall faced the same fate in 1794. It disturbed the previously square shape of the square, never to be brought back to the previous arrangement afterwards. Other changes in the spatial structure of the city took place at that time.

At the turn of the 19th century demolition of the defensive walls began; in their place plots for the construction of tenement houses were delimited. As a result of church reforms imposed by emperor Joseph, the monasteries of Dominicans, Dominican nuns and Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God were taken over to serve as public institutions and the churches belonging to the complexes were demolished. The Greek Catholic bishops were deprived of the Władycze jurisdiction by destroying its walls and buildings; nearly all wooden tserkvas were demolished. Church graveyards were transformed into city squares or auctioned off and covered with densely arranged buildings, while the new cemetery was located in Lwowskie Przedmieście.

The construction of the Przemyśl Fortress in the years 1854-1914 brought about fundamental changes to the urban arrangement of the city. Another factor that contributed to the city’s development was the construction of the railway line by duke Carl Ludwig in the years 1859-1861 and the Łupkowska railway line in 1872. The emergence of a railway station in the north-western part of Przedmieście Lwowskie contributed to filling this fragment of the city with densely arranged tenement houses, hotels, banks, retail stores and military buildings.

Until the end of the Austrian reign, Przemyśl belonged to the largest Galician cities (after Lvov and Cracow), spreading on both sides of the San river onto the former suburbs. Towards the late 19th century, at the initiative of the City Beautification Association, the castle hill was arranged into a vast communal park. During the Galician Autonomy, several schools were established in the city as well as the Sokół Association building and buildings of education and charity institutions subordinate to churches of both denominations and the Jewish community, such as: Greek Orthodox theological seminar, a youth dormitory, a nursery of the Felician Sisters and an asylum of the Albertines. New churches were built in the former suburbs.

After 1918 Przemyśl ceased to be a fortress and the forts stopped performing their function; the suburban development began in the foregrounds, previously thwarted by fortress regulations.

During the German-Soviet fights in 1941 the Jewish district, houses close to the railway stations and in the northern frontage of the Market Square were nearly completely destroyed, similarly as the Benedictine Nuns Monastery in Zasanie. After the end of World War II burnt out and damaged buildings were not reconstructed. They were demolished, thus leaving empty plots of land. The Renaissance synagogue and a vast part of the Jewish district disappeared.


The limits of the Old Town complex correspond largely with the course of the defensive walls, encompassing the city from the 16th century to the late 18th century, and the castle hill with natural defensive features. Apart from that, church complexes of the Franciscan Reformers, Benedictine Nuns and Discalced Carmelite Sisters, erected outside the town walls, were incorporated into the Old Town complex. The spatial layout of Przemyśl contained within these limits is the result of centuries of cultural layers building up from the early settlement periods. The oldest material traces of the early medieval urban centre, dated back to the 10th-11th century, were discovered on the Castle Hill. A fortified hillfort with an adjacent smaller hillfort and an ancillary settlement existed there, surrounded by earthen ramparts with a wooden box structure.

The hillfort area included a complex of brick, pre-Romanesque buildings - a rotund and a palatium, the remnants of which were discovered in the 1950s. Relics of the Tserkva of St John the Baptist were preserved within the hillfort, dating back to the 12th century. East of the hillfort - at its feet (in the area occupied by the Latin cathedral and the post-Jesuit church) one of the trade settlements was located. Its material remnants are the relics of the St Nicholas rotund preserved in the cathedral’s underground parts. When it comes to the brick-built castle erected in the area of the former hillfort in the 1340s by Casimir III the Great, only foundations of the quadrilateral fortified tower and a fragment of the entrance gate have survived. After being destroyed in 1498 by the Wallachians, the castle was rebuilt and modernised in the first half of the 16th century, using the then most modern elements of the defensive architecture.

The first town charter under the German law took place most probably in the early 14th century (ca. 1320) during the reign of dukes of Galicia and Przemyśl from the Rurykowicz dynasty. Some researchers believe that the city was not built from scratch, but only the already existing complex of settlements featuring defensive walls were regulated. Based on this they explain numerous deviations from the model chessboard layout existing today in the Old Town’s layout. This arrangement forms a square-shaped market square and surrounding blocks of buildings, streets running from the market square (Grodzka Street toward the west, Fredry and Asnyka streets towards the south, Franciszkańska and Kazimierzowska streets towards the east, and Kościuszki, Mostowa and Wodna streets towards the north) as well as at the back of the blocks adjacent to the market square (Katedralna, Ratuszowa and Serbańska streets). In the vicinity of the Na Bramie Square (behind the Lwowska Gate) the communication routes diverged towards the east - Dworskiego Street towards Lvov and Słowackiego Street towards Dobromil.

As regards ecclesiastical buildings, the city includes a massive Gothic Latin cathedral, partially remodelled in the Baroque style in the 18th century, churches and monasteries of the Franciscan order (a church rebuilt after the fire of the 18th century in the Baroque style), Dominican, Jesuit, and Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God orders, as well as the complexes of the Dominican Sisters, cathedral tserkva in Władycz, and the synagogue that have not survived to this day. We also need to mention two brick belfries at the Latin Cathedral and the Uniate tserkva, both erected in the 18th century and constituting vital accentuations in the panorama of the city. In the 16th and 17th century the city was surrounded by defensive walls with fortified towers or roundels as well as four town gates. This defensive system was reinforced by the still existing monasteries of the Discalced Carmelites, Reformers and Benedictine Sisters at the bridge in Zasanie. The best preserved fragments of fortifications include the ones along the Basztowa Street and the ones behind the Discalced Carmelites’ monastery. Relics of fortifications have also survived in the Waygarta Street. The line of the fortifications in the east and north-east is marked by the course of the Jagiellońska Street. The urban layout of Przemyśl that is clear even today was generally shaped until the mid-17th century. The oldest brick tenement houses date back to the 16th century and to the early 17th century. The largest number of them have survived in the Market Square. A typical tenement house in the Market Square in Przemyśl was front-gabled, at least two storeys tall, and featured a two-aisle interior arrangement and an arcade on the side of the Market Square.

It is also worth paying attention to the fact that buildings connected to the Latin cathedral, the chapter house and the bishop’s residence have been best preserved out of the building complexes and districts related to particular denominations, formed in the Old Polish era in the Old Town. The development of the Ruthenian Władycze district was put into a halt already in the late 18th century following the demolition of the tserkva, while the Jewish district with an impressive Renaissance synagogue was destroyed during World War II and has not been rebuilt since.

The most significant changes in the urban layout took place after the First Partition of Poland, when churches of the Dominican Monks, Dominican Nuns and Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God were demolished together with the majority of defensive walls, the tserkva in Władycz and some tenement houses in the western frontage of the Market Square.


compiled by The National Institute of Cultural Heritage

Category: urban layout

Protection: Historical Monument

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_18_PH.15492