An attribute that distinguishes Lomza from other cities is its excellent location in the Polish “Green Lungs” area – one of the last wild territories in Europe. Perhaps not quite related to this is the fact that Lomza is also known as a beer-producing centre. There are some interesting historic buildings; however, the city serves mainly as a base for venturing out into the two national parks that surround the town, the Biebrza National Park (Biebrzanski Park Narodowy) and Narew National Park (Narwianski Park Narodowy), both full of extraordinary natural wonders.
A good place to start a tour of Lomza is the Rynek – the Old Market Square, where a classicist town hall with a clock tower has survived the turmoils of history. South of the Rynek one can marvel at the 500 year old St. Michaels and St. John the Baptist Cathedral with its predominantly Baroque interior. The most precious treasure in this cathedral is a painting of the Virgin Mary dating from the 16th century and crowned by Pope John Paul II in 1991.
On Krzywe Kolo Street you should stop by the one-time “Parson’s House”, indeed a special place. Today it is the home to the Northern Masovia Museum, which takes pride in having one of the world’s largest amber collections. There is also a gallery of contemporary arts in Lomza.
Laid out at the beginning of the 19th century, the Old Cemetery here is sometimes compared to the Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw. This burial place is interesting in that it combines three cemeteries: Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.
Lomza is located in the Podlasie Voivodship, 75 km from Bialystok and 150 km from Warsaw. Standing on the bank of the river Narew, it has a population of over 63,000 people and a total area of 32.72 km2. The city has a moderately warm climate with an average annual temperature of 7.1 degrees C.
Lomza emerged in the 10th century, some 5 km away from its current centre. It received a municipal charter from the Mazovian Prince, Janusz I, in 1428 and then it was incorporated as a royal city into the Polish Kingdom in 1526, along with the whole of Mazovia following the death of the last Mazovian Prince.
In the course of the 15th and 16th centuries, the city prospered as never before and never after. This impressive growth was due to its ideal position at the crossroads of the main trade routes between Prussia, Vilnius, Russia, Western Europe and the water route along the Narew-Vistula. With a city harbour and a number of bridges, Lomza in no time developed into one of the largest towns in Mazovia.
Nevertheless, in the mid-17th century the city struggled through numerous disasters as well as the Swedish Invasion. It slid slowly into decline, but fortunately being saved by several new trade routes. The subsequent turning points were World War I and World War II, leading to huge destruction that reduced the city’s population by 60%.