Referred to as the Polish Carcassonne, Holy Cross Voivodship’s fortified town of Szydłow is a journey through Polish history and tale of how local entrepreneurs have revitalized the area.

Szydłów’s history dates back to the 12th century. It gained its municipal rights in 1329 which were subsequently lost for a period from 1869. The village has numerous tourist attractions, including the 16th-century Szydłów Synagogue, several buildings and churches dating to the 14th century and the ruins of a castle from the same period.

VIsitors will surely enjoy taking a tour of the castle, town square, old Jewish synagaogue, and side streets which boast a variety of surprises and attractions. One of the delights is a small museum run by former town mayor, Jan Klamczewski. With twinkles in his eyes Mayor Jan will take you through a condensed mostly recent history of Szydłów. Mayor Jan, being a very open minded person, has been instrumental in restoration work not only at the old Jewish cemetary, but also at the local cemetaries for fallen German and Russians from World War II. As he points out “the German and Soviet soldiers were drafted and had to fight and die by no decision of their own and respect is due them as well”.

 

It was interesting to learn that about 30% of Szydłów’s pre WWII population was Jewsih. They tended to live and run their businesses near the main town square, whereby the gentile Poles usually worked as farmers and laborers on the outskirts of Szydłow.

No tour of Szydłow is complete without a stop at the old town hall and it’s local products’ shop (Trade & Visitor Center) where you can, of course, buy the wonderful Szydłowianka plums in chocolate (try at your own risk….as they are addictive). Actually, there are numerous local products that are worth picking up. I picked up all three flavors of the honey wine (mead) and also Cytrynówka Szwiętokrzyska (kinda like Lemoncello of Holy Cross Province). 🍋

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