Częstochowa and the Jasna Góra Monastery
Częstochowa Travel Blog› entry 28 of 88 › view all entries
My friend Ana just got a new car and wanted to take a short road trip for its maiden voyage... Fantastic! for once, I'm not the "designated driver"!! We decided to go to Częstochowa which is about 260 kms from Warsaw. It is a famous pilgrimage site for people who come from all over to see the Black Madonna of Częstochowa in the Paulist Jasna Góra Monastery. People have been making this pilgrimage for hundreds of years. This image of the Virgin Mary was brought to Poland from Jerusalem via Constantinople and arrived here in 1382. Legend, or tradition, has it that St. Luke himself painted this image of the Virgin Mary.
The drive is, for the most part, on a really good road, which leads from Warsaw to Katowice. We took the wrong road when leaving Warsaw - towards Kraków instead of Katowice, so the drive there took a lot longer than it should have. This was good though, because it took us through some nice countryside. Some of the less-traveled roads, like highway 12 between Radom and Piotrków Trybunalski are really beautiful We even passed by three horse-drawn carts on that road.
The monastery where the Virgin is located is called Jasna Góra. The madonna is located in a small 15th century Gothic chapel at the heart of the monastery.
The Madonna of Częstochowa is credited with many miracles, including saving the monastery during a 17th century Swedish Invasion. After that event, the king of Poland, Jan Kazimierz, proclaimed her the patroness and queen of the country. There are also some interesting legends about this image of the Virgin, for example, she has two scars down the side of her face and according to legend, these were made by a Hussite robber. After making the first cuts, the image began to bleed and the terror-stricken Hussites immediately fled. After that, the image was repaired, but the scars always re-appeared.
The city itself is industrial and has a population of about 270.000 people. It isn't particulary pretty, but the main street leading up to the monastery of Jasna Góra is a wide, stately avenue and is most likely the entrance point for pilgrims who make their final approach walking up that street. The area surrounding the monastery has a lot of shops selling religious articles, medals, books, rosaries, and such. There are also plenty of places to get something to eat or drink in the surroundings, although the places we found to eat weren't too nice.
This is an easy day trip from Warsaw and you can make a circular route including places like Grójec, Radom, Piotrków Trybunalski and Sulejów. Something for another weekend...