Częstochowa, an uncommon travel destination for leisure and business tourists, a more interesting place of pilgrimage for the faithful, is getting a new religious attraction: the tallest statue in the world representing the late Pope John Paul II.
Although Pope John Paul II was born in Wadowice, Częstochowa is a better place for the statue, as a holy destination, visited every year by millions of pilgrims from all over the world. They come to Jasna Góra, to pray at the famous Jasnogórski Cudowny obraz Najświętszej Maryi Panny Niepokalanie Poczętej, the Black Madonna of Częstochowa.
The statue of the former Pontif was funded by Leszek Lyson, to honor the Pope, and challenge people to “stop and think about life.” Ironically, Lyson directs the Zlota Gora “sacred miniatures park” in the city. Still the statue is not the first “larger-than-life” religious landmark in Poland. Świebodzin, which is more than 4 hours drive from Częstochowa, has the world’s tallest statue of Christ, even taller than the famous Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
The largest statue of Pope John Paul II in Poland and the world is 13.8-meter high, and was made of an unlikely material: fiberglass. And as everything big deserves a honorable mentions somewhere, somehow, Lyson will attempt to enter the statue in the Guinness Book of Records.
If you do visit Częstochowa, there are several other interesting things to see, aside its religious landmarks:
- Częstochowa Museum, founded in 1905, and the oldest cultural institution in the city. It boasts a large collection of local paintings and art, ethnography, s weapons, coins and medals, as well as archaeological and natural history exhibits (including an important collection of insects).
- The Częstochowa Museum Archaeological Reserve can be found at Łukasińskiego 20. The archaeological sites study finding from the local Lusatian cemetery, dating from 750-550 BC.
- The Old Town Hall on Aleja Najświętszej Maryi Panny 45A, houses the headquarters of the Częstochowa Museum. Don’t miss the lookout point, for breathtaking views of the city.
- Two other parts of the Częstochowa Museum, the Museum of Pilgrimage and the Good Art Gallery can be found near the Old Town Hall, at Aleja Najświętszej Maryi Panny 47. As you’ve probably guessed, the museum shows exhibits relating the history of pilgrimage in the city, as well as temporary exhibitions of culture and art.
- House of Poetry, Museum of Halina Poświatowska, is located at Jasnogórska 23. It celebrates the life and work of a local poet, Halina Poświatowska. An interesting exhibition of private documents, images and memorabilia, and an experience of local lifestyle in Częstochowa.
- The Peasant Farmstead (Zagroda Włościańska) is located at 7 Kamienic 4. It replicates a village farmhouse, and shows a rich collection of folk art.
- The Ethnographic Pavilon in Stanisław Staszic Prak is an absolute must if you want to understand local history and traditions better.
- Museum of Iron Ore Mining in Park im. S. Staszica is an underground experience, similar to real life conditions in mining pits inside the nearby Szczekaczka mine, which was closed in the 1970s.
- For temporary art exhibitions, check out the Exhibition Pavilion, which is also located in the Stanisław Staszic Prak.
- Last, but not least, the Częstochowa Museum also has a Gallery of Painting and Sculpture on Katedralna 8, featuring paintings and sculptures from the Young Poland period: Jacek Malczewski, Włodzimierz Tetmajer, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Konrad Krzyżanowski, Józef Mehoffer, and sculptors – Konstanty Laszczka and Antoni Madeyski.
- Museum of Match Production (Muzeum Produkcji Zapałek) on Ogrodowa 68 is the only museum in Europe dedicated to the match making industry.
- Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, an excellent place for hiking, climbing, biking and horse riding.
And don’t forget, like everything else in Poland, Częstochowa has unique local cuisine, and a lot of treasures waiting to be discovered. Make it your new travel destination in this beautiful country, if not for pilgrimage, then for her beautiful heart and soul.