Town Square in Tykocin

Statue of Stefan Czarniecki facing church of the Holy Trinity in Tykocin

The Tykocin old town square, called a Rynek in Polish, is actually a rectangle and quite large for such a small village. As in Germany, most Polish towns were built around a central square with a Catholic Church and the town hall as the main features. In the middle of the Rynek in Tykocin is a statue of Stefan Czarniecki, a hero of the war against the Swedes in the 17th century. According to the tour guide, the King gave the whole town to him in gratitude for his heroism. The statue was erected in his honor by his grandson, Jan Branicki, in 1770.

The photograph above shows the statue of Stefan Czarniecki which faces the east end of the town square. In the background is the Baroque style Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, which is very impressive considering that Tykocin never had more than 5,000 residents, and only half of them were Catholic. The red-roofed building to the left of the church is the Alumnat, a hospice for war veterans established in 1633, the first in the world. The facade of the church is semi-circular with towers on either side connected to the church by two curved wings, making it look more like a royal palace than a church. Many of the Catholic churches in Poland were designed by Italian architects, including this one. It was locked, so I didn't get to see the inside.

The Church of the Holy Trinity is no more than two short blocks from the Jewish Synagogue; it was commissioned by Branicki in 1741 and recently restored. The square is now planted with flowers in the style of a formal garden, beautiful but not very practical since the square can no longer be used as a market place or a place for children to play.

Baroque Catholic Church in Tykocin, designed by Italian architect

The whole village of Tykocin looks like a place where time has stood still; you will not see a McDonald's here, nor any modern stores. There are no hotels, and the one restaurant did not look very inviting. Even though there are numerous tour groups passing through the town, the residents have not taken advantage of the situation; there are no souvenirs for sale here. The town appears to be exactly as the Jews left it when they were expelled and murdered more than 50 years ago, although I did not get the impression that it has been deliberately preserved, since the towns people do not seem to be benefiting in any way.

The photo below shows two houses at the western end of the town square in Tykocin.

Houses at western end of town square in Tykocin

The house pictured below is located on the north side of the town square, which is planted with grass and flowers and looks like a park now. As in the Old Town Rynek in Warsaw, the houses built around the sides of the Rynek in Tykocin were once owned by rich merchants. The first Synagogue in Tykocin was a wooden building on the Old Town Rynek; like thousands of other wooden Synagogues in Poland, it is long gone.

House on north side of Rynek in Tykocin