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The first impressions of Olsztyn may leave you little underwhelmed, as the post-war suburbs through which the visitors must first travel when entering the city are cluttered with displeasing grey buildings and factories. After reaching the city centre, however, you will discover that Olsztyn has much more to offer than the usual post-war greyness. This is where Olsztyn hides all of its most precious treasures, most notably the picturesque Old Town full of impressive sights and monuments. Finally, with its numerous lakes and municipal forests, Olsztyn is likely to take you aback with the variety of leisure activities it offers.


The capital of Warmian-Masurian Voivodship, Olsztyn is the largest city of the region and is inhabited by some 176 000 people. Due to its official function, the city houses all the most important institutions of the area and draws investors from all over the country. Olsztyn is also a renowned cultural and academic centre, boasting a large philharmonia and a university in addition to the numerous cinemas, theatres and cafes. What's more, the city is heavily influenced by both Polish and German cultures, which manifest themselves in cuisine and customs of its inhabitants.

Olsztyn's popularity amongst tourists springs from two factors – its sights and its setting. The most attractive part of the city is the centrally positioned Old Town, encircled by a set of fortified walls. Despite its name, the Old Town is far from ancient. Due to the damages inflicted by the Red Army during the World War II, the area was almost totally destroyed, leaving only mere remnants of buildings dating back to medieval times. Recently, however, many of the demolished monuments have been carefully reconstructed, amongst them the Upper Gate (also known as the High Gate), the 14th century Gothic Castle of the Warmian Chapter and the majestic Cathedral of St. James. Being located in the centre of a famous lake district means that, apart from impressive sights, Olsztyn can offer a wide range of leisure activities, such as swimming, kayaking, biking and hiking.


Olsztyn is located in the northeast part of Poland, on the Lyna River. This capital of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship is surrounded by thick forests, which account for 20% of the whole city suburban area. There are also two preserves nearby (Mszar and Redykajny), three rivers and 13 large lakes (including the Dlugie and Redykajny Lakes), which comprise 8.75% of the municipal area. Such surroundings make the city a popular holiday resort, with people flocking here to relax in its calm and pastoral ambiance. Olsztyn is also an important transportation hub, lying some 90 km from the Russian border and 165 km away from Gdańsk.

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Though certainly a historic city, Olsztyn received municipal status relatively late in comparison to other major towns in the region. Though the first mention of the city dates back to 1334, Olsztyn received its municipal rights as relatively late as 1353, which is taken as the date of founding the city. The initial Prussian name of to the city was 'Allenstein', which roughly meant 'the city located on the river Alna (Lyna)'. At first rather small, Allenstein easily succumbed to the clutches of ... ( more >>)

coat of arms
Population: 175482 #21
Province: Warmian-Masurian
Telephone: +48 89
Museums: 5
Districts: 14
Theatres: 3
Mayor: Piotr Grzymowicz
Higher Education: 7