The main town in the Mazury region, Olsztyn is first and foremost a transport hub and a handy springboard for forays into the countryside. You probably won’t want to linger too long here, but the historical centre is picturesque and there are enough sights to keep visitors entertained for a day or two.
Olsztyn’s most distinctive landmark is the Wysoka Brama (High Gate) at the entrance to the old town on ul. Staromiejska, an imposing red-brick edifice from the fourteenth century that was once part of the city walls and has served as an armoury and a prison. Olsztyn was once home to Nicolaus Copernicus, and you can see one of his sun dials embedded in the walls of the castle on ul. Zamkowa, now the town’s historical museum (Tues–Sun: June–Aug 9am–5pm; Sept–May 10am–4pm; 9zł). At the eastern edge of the old town stands the elegant Gothic St Jacob’s Cathedral, in which Napoleon’s troops once imprisoned 1500 Russian soldiers – the prisoners burnt most of the cathedral’s original wooden furnishings to keep warm.