The small town of Zakroczym isn’t a touristy place at all, although it does have several attractions that make for a gratifying stay. It may simply be visited for its advantageous location near Warsaw and some other places of interest, including the Baroque Capuchin Monastery erected in 1758. Situated on the scenic high bank of the Vistula, Zakroczym is recommended to anyone in search of a nice, relaxed environment.
A great tourist attraction is a large number of ravines in the outskirts of Zakroczym; in fact, the area is known as the land of ravines. They were carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, and some of them are now regarded as monuments of nature.
Sitting above the town, the Gothic-Renaissance Church of the Raising of the Cross was rebuilt after the Second World War with bricks, fieldstones, cannon balls and a millstone. The altar of the well-preserved Chapel of St. Barbara probably dates from the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries.
There is an interesting monument in the town’s marketplace, known as Latarnia (Lighthouse). It was placed there in the inter-war period as a symbol of independence, to commemorate those who fought in the January Uprising of 1863.
Still another historic landmark of Zakroczym is Fort 1. Just like other forts in the area, it was built in the years 1878-1880 and modernised between 1912 and 1914. After the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising on 1 August 1944, men between 14 and 60 years of age were brought to Zakroczym from the capital and imprisoned in Fort 1. The inhabitants of Zakroczym provided help to the inmates at risk of their own lives.
A town with little more than 3,000 inhabitants, Zakroczym is located in the Masovian Voivodship, approximately 35 km north-west of Warsaw. It lies on the E7 road from Warsaw to Gdansk.
Zakroczym enjoys a picturesque location in the unspoiled Middle Vistula Valley, which is home to unique flora and fauna. With at least 22 rare species identified, birds are the most representative of the area’s wildlife.
The first mention of Zakroczym can be found in a document by Boleslaw Smialy from 1065. It is said that the name of the town derives from the word zakrot, which means “ford across the river”. The settlement was initially located closer to the Vistula and was called either Kroczym or Kroczyn. However, because of repeated floods, soon after its foundation it was relocated to a higher site nearby and named Za-kroczym (Behind-Kroczym).
It was originally a village, owned by the nobility, whose inhabitants were involved in the grain trade as well as that of floating timber down the river. In about 1329, the people of Zakroczym took an active part in the war against the Teutonic Order. In 1387 Yanosz, Prince of Mazovia, granted the village special privileges, and then in 1422 it received full municipal status from Prince Janusz I.
Zakroczym developed quickly and in the mid-16th century emerged as one of the most significant towns in Mazovia. In 1564 it comprised 276 houses and several workshops; and in 1619 municipal privileges were reconfirmed by King Zygmunt III.
The war with the Swedes in the 1650s brought death to a great number of inhabitants and caused major damage to the town, from which it only recovered at the end of the 18th century. Between 1709 and 1712, Zakroczym was ravaged by a terrible plague. In 1757 Capuchin monks were brought to the town and the building of the monastery commenced.
Upon the third partition of Poland in 1795, Zakroczym came under Prussian control, but not long afterwards, in 1807, it was annexed by the Principality of Warsaw. In 1813, the Russian general Iwan Paskiewicz commanded the siege of Modlin from his headquarters in Zakroczym. From 1815 Zakroczym was part of the Kingdom of Congress Poland.
In the second half of the 19th century some industrial plants were founded there and Zakroczym became a site of iron forging and copper rolling.
Until 29 September 1939, local troops desperately defended the nearby Modlin Fortress. In 1944, the Germans established a camp at Fort 1 for about 30,000 men deported from Warsaw after the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. Finally, with about 78% of the town destroyed, Zakroczym was liberated in 1945.