The 20 best sights of Bialystok – descriptions and photos

Bialystok

Bialystok (Poland) – all about the city, the main attractions of Bialystok with photos and descriptions, the most interesting tourist routes on the map.

Bialystok city (Poland).

Bialystok is a city in north-eastern Poland, located on the banks of the Suprasl River. It is the largest city in this part of the country with a population of almost 300 thousand people.

Bialystok is often called the lungs of Poland, thanks to its location among beautiful forests and lakes. And indeed, thanks to its location in an ecologically clean and beautiful natural area, the city is perfect for nature lovers and hikers.

History

The first mention of the city dates back to the first half of the 15th century. At that time the land where Bialystok was located belonged to the Mazovian dukes and the Teutonic Order.

A century later the city came into the possession of Veselovsky family, who built here the castle and the first church. And a century later (after the death of the last Veselovsky family member), the city and its lands came under the authority of the Polish king, until they eventually passed to the Branicki family. The name of this family is associated with the further prosperity and development of Bialystok. The Branickis built a beautiful palace, invited artists, sculptors and scientists.

The historic center of Bialystok.

The historical center of Białystok

At the end of the 18th century the town was bought from the descendants of the Branickis and became part of Prussia. But after a few decades it was handed over to Russia by Bonaparte. The city became the center of textile industry, rapidly growing and developing.

In 1920 Bialystok was returned to Poland. The city did not stay as a part of Poland for a long time. In 1939 Germany ceded Bialystok to the USSR. But already in 1941, German troops occupied the city again. Bialystok was liberated by the Red Army in 1944. In the same year the city was handed over to Poland again.

Now Bialystok is the administrative center of the Podlaskie Voivodeship and the largest city in the region. Many Belarusians, Russians, Ukrainians and a large Roma community live there. Bialystok is also one of the centers of the Polish Orthodox Church.

The Fountain on the Market Square

The fountain in the Market Square

Shopping and Buying in Bialystok

For shopping lovers, Bialystok offers a wide range of opportunities. There are large shopping centers and outlets in the city and the surrounding area. Here are some of them:

  • Galeria Alfa, Świętojańska 15, 15-277 Białystok
  • Outlet Białystok, Władysława Wysockiego 67, 15-168 Białystok
  • Atrium Biała, Czesława Miłosza 2, 15-265 Białystok
  • Galeria M, 1000-lecia Państwa Polskiego 8B, 15-111 Białystok
  • Galeria Zielone Wzgórza, Wrocławska 20, 15-644 Białystok
  • CH Panorama, Legionowa 9, 15-281 Białystok

Białystok maps with interesting routes

The most interesting routes in Białystok on the map

Branicki Route

Follow the route of the legendary noblemen who ruled Białystok for centuries and largely determined the architecture of the city and its development.

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The main attractions of the route are:

  • Branicki Palace, Jana Kilińskiego 1, 15-087 Białystok
  • Guest Palace (Pałacyk Gościnny), Jana Kilińskiego 6, 15-087 Białystok, Poland
  • Far Church, Kościelna 2, 15-087 Białystok, Poland
  • Kościuszko Market (you can see the monastery, the town hall there), Rynek Kościuszki 5, 15-091 Białystok

Route of wooden houses

Remains of the wooden architecture of Bialystok in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The wooden houses were mostly single-story, with attics covered with gable roofs and ceramic tiles.

Route to the historic center

The route through the historical center of Bialystok takes 30-40 minutes and includes almost all of its major attractions: the impressive porcelain church, the main cathedral dedicated to St. Nicholas, and others.

  • Rynek Kościuszki
  • Jana Kilińskiego
  • Warszawska
  • Piękna 3, 15-282 Białystok
  • Rynek Sienny, 15-288 Białystok

Route around the historic center - map

Route through the historic center – map

Route to religious buildings

Along this route you will see interesting religious buildings of the city.

  • Księdza Arcybiskupa Romualda Jałbrzykowskiego 5, 15-753 Białystok
  • Władysława Sikorskiego 9, 15-667 Białystok
  • Antoniuk Fabryczny 13, 15-762 Białystok
  • Michała Sopoćki 1, 15-114 Białystok
  • Warszawska 46A, 15-077 Białystok
  • Trawiasta 5, 15-161 Białystok

The main attractions of Bialystok

Now let us walk through the most important attractions of Bialystok.

Kosciuszko Market

Kosciuszko Market

Kosciuszko Market is an old market square in the historical center of Białystok with beautiful architecture. The town hall, built in the mid-18th century in the late Baroque style, stands out especially in the architecture of the square. Interestingly enough, the town hall has never been the seat of the city authorities. The building performed a commercial function – it housed shops. And the town hall tower was used by firefighters, who monitored the territory of the city. Now there is a museum.

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

One of the main attractions of Bialystok – the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – is located in the eastern part of the market square. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built in the early 17th century. Interestingly, the building of the church is two connected church buildings: the old (early 17th century) and the new (early 20th century). The cathedral is the main temple of Bialystok. The church is now a massive Neo-Gothic building. The last significant restoration was made according to the project of Józef Pius Dzekonski at the beginning of the 20th century.

Branicki Palace

Branicki Palace

One of the most famous landmarks of the city is Branicki Palace, called “Versailles of Podlasie”, “Versailles of the North”, as well as “Polish Versailles”. It is an ancient palace, one of the best preserved 17th-century family courtyards in the lands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the late Baroque style, with a beautiful park and beautiful landscaping. The origins of the palace date back to the 16th century. The brick Gothic and Renaissance castle was built to a design by the royal architect Bretfusa, architect of the Lower Castle in Vilnius, an extension of the Old Castle in Kamyanets-Podilsky.

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St. Nicholas Cathedral is the cathedral of the Polish Orthodox Church. It is the largest of the Orthodox churches in the city. The building of the cathedral dates back to the middle of 19th century. The cathedral was built in the classical style in the form of a Greek cross, typical of the church architecture of the Russian Empire. The cathedral is located in the center of the city and is a monument of history and culture.

14 Sights worth seeing in Bialystok

Poland

Bialystok, the largest Polish city on the border with Belarus, is hostage to its image. Most Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians associate it with one big market where people exchanged their paychecks for TV sets during the Perestroika years, and today they exchange carefully packed euros for household chemicals, clothes from outlet stores, tableware, and sweets from “Bedronka”. And there are much more interesting sights than shopping malls!

What to see: descriptions and photos

Kosciuszko Market Square

Kostiushko Square is the historical and business center of the city, a place where you can stroll, have a good meal, and drink beer. It is shaped like a very elongated triangle. On both sides of it are twentieth-century Art Nouveau and neoclassical mansions, brightly painted and richly decorated with stucco and ornaments. On the first floors of the houses are restaurants and boutiques. The oldest building on the square is the Town Hall.

Address: 15-001 Bialystok.

City Hall and Museum of Podlasie

Its first version housed the town government. The new building houses the main branch of the Museum of the Podlasie Region. It has an impressive collection of ethnographic exhibits collected from all over Polesie, including present-day Belarus and Ukraine.

  • Gallery of Polish painting. There is an impressive collection of portraits and academic paintings of the 18th-19th centuries.
  • Orthodox art. Ancient icons, frescoes, embossing and stained glass in the Byzantine style, as well as a copy of an early Christian temple. The latter is of the greatest interest.
  • Enigmatic towel. Ethnographic exhibition of Polesian embroidered towels. The exposition includes multimedia elements.

Often there are temporary exhibitions. In general it is not a simple museum with dusty and boring exhibits.

  • Working time: Tue. Sun. 10-17.
  • Cost of visiting: 10 PLN. On Sunday – free of charge.
  • Address: Rynek Kościuszki 10, 15-426.

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

An unusual cathedral, divided into two buildings, dominates the western corner of the market square:

  1. old parish;
  2. the new parish.
  • The old parish is a Mannerist style church, erected at the beginning of the 17th century. Despite the dazzling white façade, beautiful portal and bas-relief decoration, it is rarely noticed because it is overshadowed by the more elegant Gothic building.
  • The New Parish is a neo-Gothic one-nave brick church, built in the early 20th century. It is of large dimensions 90 m x 30 m and has an exquisite façade with two pointed towers with fialas and an openwork arcade between them. The interior decoration is modest, so it is worth visiting the church only for the free organ concert. For information on the concert schedule, visit the website: http://www.katedrabialostocka.pl/.
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Address: Kościelna 2, 15-087 Białystok.

Army Museum

Poles love their army and are very proud of it, so museums of army history can be seen in nearly every major city in Poland.

If you want to know the Poles’ view of the events of World War II and their role in it, you can see it in the museum near Branicki Palace.

Almost half of the exposition is devoted to:

  1. Hitler and Stalin’s September 1939 campaign.
  2. The Battle of Monte Cassino.
  3. Operations on the Eastern Front in 1944-1945 (liberation of Poland).
  4. The activities of the national resistance movement.

Many dioramas and themed objects tell about those events.

Of particular interest are the exposition of weapons and ammunition from the times of the Warsaw Pact, as well as exhibitions devoted to peacekeeping missions and the development of the Polish army as part of NATO.

  • Opening times: W. Wed. 9:30-17.
  • Cost of admission: 7 PLN.
  • Address: Jana Kilińskiego 7, 15-089.

Branicki Palace

Once upon a time the Branicki family of noblemen lived in Bialystok. It was one of the most influential and wealthy noble families in Eastern Poland. The head of the family, Jan Klemens Branicki, decided to create a family estate to match his financial status and high taste. In the 18th century he built a luxurious baroque palace complex and landscape park. In addition, he sponsored the construction of the town hall.

One half of the palace belongs to the Medical University, and the other half is a working museum of palace interiors. It consists of a number of rooms with authentic 17th and 18th century decor:

  • Anteroom.
  • Hall.
  • Dressing Room.
  • Drawing-room 1 and 2.
  • Master suite (one of the working rooms).
  • Entrance hall.
  • Salon (a large living room for balls and receptions).
  • Main office.
  • Light room (bedroom of the housewife).
  • Green room (refectory).
  • English room.
  • Chinese room.

Their visit is included in the ticket price to the palace.

  • Opening hours: Tues. Fri. 9-16; Sat. 10-16.
  • Cost of a visit: route number 1 (60-90 minutes) – 20 PLN, route number 2 (40-60 minutes) – 12 PLN.
  • Address: Jana Kilińskiego 1, 15-089 Białystok.

Lipowa Street.

The main street in the city. It takes you to several interesting sights. It begins at the Market Square and goes 800 m westward to Independence Square. In the twentieth century it changed a lot of names, by which you can trace the difficult fate of Poland and its eastern territories.

First, it was renamed after Jozef Piłsudski, then Adolf Hitler, and after him – Joseph Stalin.

Lipovaya is built up with mansions from the 19th and 20th centuries. During the war they were significantly damaged. For a while they even wanted to demolish them, but the Poles found the money to rebuild. Thanks to the work of restorers tourists can admire the Art Nouveau and neoclassical bourgeois architecture.

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St. Nicholas Cathedral

Bialystok is strongly influenced by the Orthodox Church. This belief entered here with immigrants from Belarus and Ukraine, as well as imperial officials from Russia.

In 1840, these diasporas sponsored the construction of a Byzantine-style neoclassical church. It is of interest for its frescoes, which are reminiscent in plot of the murals in St. Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev.

In 1897, Emperor Nicholas II and his wife visited the cathedral. He allocated money to repair the dilapidated building by that time. Some part of the funds was used for the creation of the Holy Gates – double-leaf doors leading to the altar. It is richly decorated with icons, embossing and gilding.

Address: Lipowa 15, 15-424 Białystok.

Białystok Puppet Theater

The puppet theater appeared in the city after the war, in 1953. By the way – this is the first theater facility in the country, which was designed and equipped specifically for puppet shows. Prior to its appearance, actors had to live in an unsuitable room with poor acoustics, but after – the theater immediately developed, became famous and became a place for international festivals.

The core of the repertoire consists of children’s tales, but there are also adult performances, in particular plays by Rizo Gabriadze, adaptations of Nikolai Gogol, Thomas Bernhard, Shakespeare and many others.

The only pity is that the performances are only in Polish. However, young children will be interested to see it as well.

If Polish shows don’t appeal to you, try the Puppet Cellar. It’s a museum under the stage where puppets and their parts are kept, as well as props and decorations. It is in semi-darkness, which creates a mysterious and even somewhat sinister atmosphere.

Address: Konstantego Kalinowskiego 1, 15-875 Białystok.

Podlasie Opera and Center for European Arts

The leading opera house and Philharmonic in the north-east of Poland, one of the best in the country, and certainly the most modern in these parts. It was built in 2012 as a joint project with several cultural organizations of the European Union. The minimalist construction of concrete, steel and glass is literally packed with state-of-the-art multimedia equipment.

It is equipped with an intelligent system of acoustic tuning, which uses moving screens to change the sound parameters according to the type of performance:

  • chamber music;
  • opera;
  • choral singing;
  • contemporary music, etc.

There is also the second biggest organ in Poland. It is said that its sounds are heart-rending.

Next to the building there is a summer amphitheater, surrounded by gardens and landscaping. It was designed by one of the leading female artists in the field of Land Art, Teresa Murak. There is also a 2.5-ton cast-iron sculpture of her authorship.

Address: 15-369 Bialystok.

Historical Museum

A branch of the Podlesie Museum, located in a luxurious modernist mansion of the late 19th century. Not only the house, but also the luxurious decor of the rooms is a reminder of him:

  • boudoir;
  • study;
  • dining-room;
  • a music salon;
  • bedroom.
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They served as the basis for the exposition “Bourgeois Interiors”. The rooms are furnished with antique furniture, dishes and household items.

Particular attention is drawn to the “Versailles of the North” – a model of Bialystok in the mid-18th century. The time when it reached its zenith. The layout is equipped with laser illumination and multimedia devices. When the lights are turned off, the layout gives a light and music show, which creates the effect of floating over the night city. There are also several models of famous buildings in Bialystok – now defunct.

There is also an unusual exposition devoted to the Tatar and Mongol settlements, which appeared in the 13th-14th centuries on the Polish lands on the border with Belarus and Lithuania.

  • Working time: Tue. Sun. 10-17.
  • Entry fee: 10 PLN.
  • Address: Warszawska 37, 15-062 Białystok.

Warszawska Street

Warszawska Street with the architectural ensemble of neoclassical and Art Nouveau houses of the 19th century.

Address: Ulica Warszawska, Białystok.

Akcent Zoo

A small zoo not far from Branicki Palace, opened in the 1960s. It stands out from the others just by the fact that it offers free admission. This is a place of real joy for a child, and for an adult it is an opportunity to have a good time and save 30 zlotys.

It is home to animals found in Eastern Poland:

  • bison;
  • bears;
  • wolves;
  • lynxes;
  • wild goats and ponies;
  • fallow deer;
  • deer;
  • and even wild forest cats (although visitors have fed them so much that they have domesticated them).

There are also several aviaries for birds:

  • Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Address: Podleśna 4, 15-227 Białystok.

Monument to the Great Synagogue

Across the street from Market Square (north) lies a neighborhood of panel houses, the Polish equivalent of “Khrushchev”. They appeared after the war on the site of the Great Synagogue burned by the Germans and the Jewish quarter around it.

In 1941 a German police battalion burst in, throwing all the inhabitants out into the street. Some of them were shot there, while others were locked in the synagogue and the building set on fire. Two thousand people died in it.

Another 1,000 locals were killed by grenades which the Nazis threw through the windows of the houses and the subsequent fire which engulfed the entire block. All that remained of the synagogue was the flame-crushed metal frame of the dome.

Address: Suraska 1A, 15-401 Białystok.

Museum of Wooden Architecture in Podlasie

On the edge of the forest in the middle of the relict forest there are 40 log buildings. They were collected from all over the Polesie region since 1982 in order to preserve the ancient Polesie architecture which was rapidly disappearing. In addition to Polish, Belarusian and Ukrainian wooden huts you can see there:

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