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The Warsaw Voice » Society » December 2, 2009
Mazovia Heritage
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History and Culture on Tumskie Hill
December 2, 2009   
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P這ck, the largest city in western Mazovia, boasts many sites that testify to its erstwhile splendor, including the cathedral on the historical Tumskie Hill.

As early as the 7th century, P這ck was home to a center of pagan worship. Under the reign of Prince Boles豉w III the Wrymouth in the 12th century, P這ck was even a temporary capital of Poland. That splendid period in the history of P這ck came to an end when the Duchy of Mazovia lost its autonomy and was incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland. Consumed by fires, epidemics and the Swedish invasion of the 17th century, P這ck fell into a decline so rapid that by the mid-18th century it only had 1,000 inhabitants.

The most important historic sites are located on the Vistula River embankment, which has for centuries been known as the Tumskie Hill. The crest of the hill is dominated by the Gothic towers of the Castle of Mazovian Dukes from the 14th century. At the foot of one of the towers, archeologists found the remnants of a stone building where it is believed that Boles豉w III the Wrymouth was born in 1085. The large, brick castle was partially destroyed in the 16th century when the embankment subsided. Reconstructed, the castle went on to become a Benedictine monastery for many years. At present, the historic interiors house the Museum of Mazovia.

Another landmark on Tumskie Hill is the ancient cathedral of P這ck. Originally built in the 12th century, the cathedral was repeatedly modified until in 1901-1903 it regained its appearance from the 16th century. The cathedral has a Romanesque design, Gothic towers and a Renaissance dome with a lantern. The furnishings inside the cathedral date from different periods. In the vestibule, visitors can see a copy of the Romanesque Door of P這ck from 1154, which was paid for by Bishop Alexander of Malonne. The original door was taken in the 13th century to the St. Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, Russia, where it remains to this day. Bas-reliefs which adorn several dozen of the door's bronze panels feature scenes from the Bible, allegorical images and depictions of Bishop Alexander and the craftsmen who made the door.

Contemporary P這ck is commonly associated with a huge petrochemical plant which was established in the P這ck suburbs in the 1960s. The industry radically stimulated the economic growth of P這ck, which in 1975-1998 was a provincial capital.

With a population of 130,000, P這ck is the largest urban area in western Mazovia and a major cultural center with, for example, a symphony orchestra of its own. From June to August, P這ck resounds with music played during the Summer Music Festival, with concerts held in attractive locations in the old town. Also in summer, the P這ck Symphony Orchestra and the local Dramatyczny Theater join forces to hold popular outdoor shows.
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