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1999 Photographs from Zamosc | Panoramic Photographs 1 2 | Poland Site Index | Home
I walked through the city in the early morning to explore the streets and to photograph buildings and remaining fortifications. On this Sunday morning, the streets were fairly quiet and very few people were out walking or running errands. A few people took their dogs for a morning walk. With the merchant's display removed from the central square, I was able to make a few panoramic images. I continued to walk around the outer walls and examined one of the original city gates.
I met with Mr. Syzmanik, Ms. Krzyzanowska and Marta at noon to walk the Rotunda, a round fortress built outside the city walls to provide additional defenses to the city. During World War II, the structure gained a more ominous reputation as a site for Nazi detention, interrogation and executions. Today, the building stands as a memorial to the dead with numerous graves surrounding the fortification, organized in concentric rings. Square blocks inscribed with names of the victims are also set into the brick coursing of the exterior as an additional remembrance.
From the Rotunda, we proceeded to the city's central cathedral, a site visited by the Pope during his recent visit to Poland. As we approached, my hosts pointed out the road surrounding the cathedral built to support the weight of the Pope's special security vehicle. Inside, we were greeted by Father Marek Dobosz, a priest of the cathedral who has researched and written a book on the history of the building and the numerous artworks and artifacts accumulated during the past centuries. He discussed the art, sculpture and architecture of the building in great detail. As he spoke, almost every surface and object upon and within the building was ensconced in a greater religious or spiritual meaning. The paintings and sculptures of the side chapels are incredibly beautiful. After circling the interior, he grasped a pair of massive metal doors set into the floor in front of the main altar. Hinges creaked and a metallic "Thud!" followed as the doors struck the marble floor. The opening revealing a narrow staircase to the crypt below. Therein lies the caskets of various political and religious leaders of the city. One casket had a special viewing window allowing the mummified remains to be seen. From the depths below, we climbed to the top of the belfry, rapping the massive iron bells with our fingertips and overlooking the city from its highest point.
Our walk ended with a look at the artifacts of the church in an exhibit organized wholly by Father Marek Dobosz. This included robes and other garments, reliquary boxes, chests and ceremonial artifacts. Father Dobosz unlocked the drawer of a bureau chest and brought out numerous chasubles and mitres woven in the 16th and 17th centuries and are still used but only for special religious ceremonies. The chasuble I found most interesting was used for funerals and death rites. It was black with dark red stitching and adorned with skulls and crossed bones.
Images from the book Katedra w Zamoscu.
We left the cathedral and had a late lunch, discussing various topics during the course of our meal. I learned about the friends of Ms. Krzyzanowska who organized a bicycle ride during in 1999 from the city of Zamo to the Vatican in Rome. On their departure, snow still covered the grounds of Poland. They were scheduled to travel approximately 160km (100 miles) per day. I spent most of my summer preparing for a century ride in New York, one week before my departure for Poland. With my own single day, long-distance ride in recent memory, I could truly appreciate their achievement. The group was planning another ride in 2000 from Zamosc to Paris. Ms. Krzyzanowska would pass my name along.
Afterwards, about an hour of daylight remained. I decided to return to the Rotunda to make some additional photographs. It was raining lightly during our visit earlier in the day. The place was still dark. I held as still as possible, 1/15 of a second at a time. Late in the evening, I had dinner with Marta and two of her friends from school. Both spoke excellent English. One had been to the United States for a full year as an exchange student in a small town in Arkansas. She managed to travel extensively in the US during her stay, even to my hometown in San Antonio, Texas.
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