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Copernicus in Olsztyn

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A question worth revisiting from time to time is: does the place where someone lives have any bearing on their greatest achievements? In Olsztyn we believe that the answer is yes. The energy of a place is a source of inspiration, it spurs the mind to take on great challenges and grants the strength to break new ground ... Five centuries ago, Nicolaus Copernicus arrived in our city. Shortly afterwards, in a chamber of the Olsztyn castle, he proceeded to write down the conclusions he had drawn from his observations of the sky. The rest, as we know, is history – “He stopped the sun and moved the earth, the Polish nation gave him birth.” We invite you to take in the energy of Olsztyn, just as Copernicus did many years ago!

– in 1516, Nicolaus Copernicus arrived at the Olsztyn castle and was appointed a canon and the administrator of the Chapter of Warmia for a three-year term (later extended to 1520-1521)
– in 1517, he drew his famous astronomical table on the cloister walls, which he used to calculate the dates of the vernal and autumnal equinox, and which also served to assist with his observation of the Sun, and around 1520 Copernicus began writing what would become the work of his life– De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, a book outlining his heliocentric theory of the universe
– in 1519 he wrote the Monetae cudendae ratio, a treatise on money which he had drafted two years earlier – this treatise postulated the famous “Copernicus law” which held that bad money drives out good, predating the similar Gresham’s law by several decades
– he settled peasants in abandoned lands – throughout the 1516-1519 period, as well as in 1521, he made many trips to Warmia settling more than 40 villages
– in January 1521, he repulsed an invasion by the Teutonic Knights on the walls of Olsztyn

2017 – the 500th anniversary of Copernicus’ creation of the astronomical table in the Olsztyn castle
2021 – the 500th anniversary of Copernicus’ repulsion of the Teutonic Order’s invasion of the city
2023 – the 550th anniversary of Copernicus’ birth

The Warmia Chapter’s Castle
Once Copernicus’ residence, today the headquarters of the Museum of Warmia and Mazury. Among other items, the museum houses a permanent biographical exhibition devoted to the astronomer, presented in his former chamber. However, the astronomer’s famous astronomical table is undoubtedly the most valuable of the “Copernicana” exhibits.

Copernicus’ astronomical table
Drawn on the castle’s cloister walls, the table was used for solar observations and for determining the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. An item that’s truly one-of-a-kind in the world – the only surviving instrument personally made by the great scientist himself.

The Planetarium and Astronomical Observatory in Olsztyn
Olsztyn’s Planetarium (at Al. Piłsudskiego 38) is a memorial of a sort – the building was constructed in homage to Copernicus and was officially opened on 19 February 1973, on the 500th anniversary of the astronomer’s birth. It is one of the most recognizable sites in Olsztyn and the second largest object of this kind in Poland. Visitors will have plenty to experience and discover, including reconstructions of Copernicus’ measuring instruments (the originals have not survived). In 2010, the planetarium acquired significant funds from the European Union and was able to purchase modern digital full-dome projection equipment, which is currently its biggest attraction.

“Copernicus Bench”
The “Copernicus Bench” is popular among Olsztyn citizens and tourists alike. It was unveiled in ul. Zamkowa in 2003 to celebrate the 650th anniversary of the city. Visitors can sit beside a statue of the astronomer looking up and facing the castle.

The statue
The castle park is home to a statue of Copernicus that is more than a century old (the unveiling ceremony took place in November 1916). It was the first monument in post-war Olsztyn. The inscription on the monument reads: “To the defender of the Olsztyn castle against the Teutonic invader, to the Great Pole, Nicolaus Copernicus – grateful countrymen.”

Valuable collections
The archives of the Archdiocese of Warmia in Olsztyn contain valuable collections documenting the Olsztyn and Warmian chapters of Copernicus' life (such as the only extant pages of the original copy of the Locationes mansorum desertorum ledgers, handwritten by Copernicus)

Olsztyn forms a part of the Copernicus Route, a chain of locations associated with the great astronomer. For more info see

A compendium of knowledge about the Olsztyn and Warmian chapters of Nicolaus Copernicus' life can be found at:

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