Olsztyn is the capital of the Warmia andMazury province and its largest city. It is located in north-eastern Poland, with a population of approx. 175 000 people. Since its foundation in 1353, the history of Olsztyn spans more than 650 years.
The city's greatest allure lies in its unique location, as it is surrounded by forests and lakes. The borders of Olsztyn hold several lakes and one of the largest parks in Europe – the Town Forest. To emphasize these assets, Olsztyn's promotional strategy emphasizes its “garden city” facet. Examples of initiatives based on this approach include the multiple active recreation opportunities available to both citizens and tourists (the “Olsztyn. Get Active!” project) and the extensive signposting of the Town Forest.
The most well-known historical monuments of Olsztyn are the Warmia Chapter’s Castle (built in 14th century, the oldest building in the city), the Co-Cathedral Basilica of St. James the Apostle, and the Upper Gate. The defence architecture of 14th century Warmia, the unique Secession buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries, the interesting shows and concerts all help to ensure that tourists looking for a little peace and quiet find Olsztyn to be a perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Wandering through the streets of the Old Town they can admire the remains of the medieval town walls, the massive Castle and the dome of the cathedral, towering over the skyline. Anyone standing in front of the astronomical table drawn on the walls by Nicolaus Copernicus (with 2017 marking the 500th anniversary of its creation) will feel the presence of history, while its contemporary facet can be explored at Olsztyn’s Planetarium. The Planetarium itself – the second largest facility of this kind in Poland – has full-dome screenings and other attractions to offer.
There are four higher learning institutions in the city, with over 45 000 attending students. The Kortowo District of Olsztyn holds the campus of the University of Warmia and Mazury, unique among Polish student centres. The most notable events held within the city are: Olsztyn’s Summer gbof the Arts, Olsztyn Green Festival, the Olsztyn Blues Nights, the Kortowiada students’ festival, the Olsztyn Theatre Meetings, and the Warmia Christmas Fair. The most distinguished figures associated with the city are the author of the heliocentric theory of the universe – Nicholas Copernicus and the world-famous architect Erich Mendelsohn.
New investments, which have gained instant recognition among residents and tourists, are the “Ukiel” Recreation and Sports Centre (“CRS Ukiel”) and the recently revitalized parks. The “CRS Ukiel” Centre is a modern sports and tourism complex encompassing three locations around the largest body of water in Olsztyn – Lake Ukiel. The main building of the Centre is located at ul. Kapitańska. The complex holds, among others: cycling routes, hiking trails, sports equipment rentals with over 200 different watercraft and other sporting goods, and three bathing beaches. The second major part of the “CRS Ukiel” – the Olsztyn Canoeing Centre – is located at ul. Olimpijska. The third part of the complex is the Water and Ice Sailing Centre in Olsztyn, and can be found at ul. Sielska.
Olsztyn, which bears its title of a “garden city” proudly, contains numerous parks that serve as meeting, recreation and picnicking spots. The Podzamcze Park is one the most well-known and popular of those. 2015 saw completion of the Podzamcze Park restoration project that lasted a few years. The Park, located near the Old Town, is the largest one in Olsztyn. It is a traditional scenic park. The park area borders two picturesque railway bridges, the Warmia Chapter’s Castle, and the Łyna River, all of which contribute to Podzamcze’s one-of-a-kind ambience. The Podzamcze Park and the city’s Central Park (the latter opened in summer 2014) together form a new pedestrian and recreation trail across Olsztyn’s centre.