Czestochowa is a quiet town located in the heart of Southern Poland, famous for its impressive Shrine of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, one of the major pilgrimage destinations in Poland.
But Czestochowa not only attracts millions of pilgrims, families and newlyweds, but also ordinary tourists who come here to see the beautiful architecture of this breathtaking monastery dating back to the 14th century.
What you’ll find in this guide to things to see and do in Czestochowa:
- Where is Czestochowa located?
- Things to see and do in Czestochowa
- Best Restaurants in Czestochowa
- Best Hotels in Czestochowa
- How to get to Czestochowa from Krakow
Where is Czestochowa located?
Częstochowa is located in the Śląsk (Silesia) region, 150 km from Krakow, in Southern Poland. Nestled among limestone hills, the city is surrounded by magnificent medieval fortresses and caves and is the ideal starting point for excursions to the Krakow-Częstochowa plateau.
The city is most famous for its religious and cultural heritage, representing the spiritual capital of Poland.
Things to see and do in Czestochowa
Shrine of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa – Jasna Gora
The impressive Jasna Gora monastery was founded in 1382 by the monks of the Order of the Pauline Fathers, who decided to build the sanctuary on top of a hill, to which they gave the name of Jasna Gora, which means Luminous Hill.
This huge Gothic-style complex is surrounded by mighty protective walls, this is because in the past the monastery was also a military fortress set up to defend against enemies.
Today the sanctuary is one of the most important religious centers in Poland and houses the famous painting of the Black Madonna and the Nobel Peace Prize medal received by Lech Walesa, former Polish president.
The oldest part of the Sanctuary is the Chapel of Our Lady, decorated in three different architectural styles: a part in the Gothic style, where a wonderful 17th century silver altar is housed, one in Baroque style and the third, more recent, dates back to the 20th century.
Next to the Chapel is the Basilica, decorated in Baroque style and adorned with a 106-meter bell tower. Climbing its more than 500 steps it is possible to enjoy a wonderful view.
Inside the complex there are exhibitions of valuable paintings and artifacts. The Hall of the Knights is famous, where it is possible to see paintings that tell the history of the monastery. The Golgotha Gallery houses the works of the famous Polish artist and cartoonist Jerzy Duda Gracz.
In the Arsenal of the ancient fortress you will be able to see ancient weapons and military objects and a treasure room, where the offerings made to the Madonna over the years (starting from the 17th century!), Including jewels and medals, are preserved and cataloged.
The Sanctuary is visited every year by more than 4 million visitors from all over the world. The main attraction is the painting of Our Lady of Częstochowa, also known as the Black Madonna.
Since 1932 the painting has been housed inside the Chapel of Our Lady and depicts the Madonna and Child, crowned the Queen of Poland.
Its origin is still not clear today. It is said that the author of the work was Saint Luke the Evangelist, a contemporary of the Madonna, who painted her true face. In reality, despite the various debates on the subject by art historians, the painting remains a mystery and its author is still anonymous today.
On the face of the Madonna you can see some scars dating back to the various enemy invasions. Legend has it that although over the years we have tried to erase them, they have always reappeared. According to other historians, however, it is said that they were left visible in memory of the attacks suffered.
Viewing the painting is not that easy as it is normally covered from view, and is uncovered at 6.00. It is possible to see it throughout the morning, while in the afternoon it is shown only once every hour.
The hours of the Sanctuary are from March to October from 8.00 to 17.00; from November to February it closes at 16.00.
Avenue of the Holy Virgin Mary
The Avenue of the Holy Virgin Mary of Częstochowa is a beautiful street lined with rows of trees and old buildings. Along the way there are many cafes, restaurants and shops and it is the place where the residents gather for a walk or for shopping.
Here are also the other main attractions of Częstochowa, such as the Town Hall of Czestochowa, the City Art Gallery and Dom Frankego (Franke’s House), one of the most interesting historical buildings in the city.
Town Hall of Czestochowa
Along the avenue of the Holy Virgin Mary we can see the town hall of Czestochowa, built in 1828, after the unification of the two villages of Old and New Czestochowa.
The late classicist style building has a central tower, from which you can admire a wonderful view of the city. The town hall houses the Czestochowa Museum, with the permanent exhibition “The history of the city of Częstochowa”.
The exhibition displays works by Polish artists and documents that tell the history of the city and the region.
The opening hours are from Tuesday to Thursday from 11.30 to 17.00, from Friday to Sunday from 11.30 to 17.30. Monday is closed.
The ticket price is 9 PLN (reduced 5 PLN).
City Art Gallery of Czestochowa
The city art gallery is located along the city’s main avenue and is dedicated to Zdzislaw Beksinski, a 20th-century surrealist artist.
His works are exhibited in a wonderful luminous design, with plays of light and color. During the tour the visitor is accompanied by the notes of a soundtrack composed by Armand Amar, a famous French composer.
The gallery also hosts numerous temporary exhibitions of contemporary Polish artists. The opening hours are every day from 12.00 to 19.00. Closed on Monday.
Saints Barbara and Andrew Church in Częstochowa
This church, built in the Baroque style, represents another important stop for pilgrims. It is located south of the Sanctuary and is famous for the legend associated with the Black Madonna.
It is said in fact that in 1430 the Hussites abandoned the painting here after invading and sacking the monastery and that this was preserved and kept clean by a spring coming from the ground.
It is also said that this spring has healing properties. This is why many tourists and pilgrims visit the church today to drink from the spring.
A few minutes from the city, there are the ruins of Olsztyn Castle, which in the past was a defense fortress of the southern border of the kingdom of Poland.
The castle was built in the 14th century by King Kazimierz Wielki but over time hosted many Polish rulers. It was definitively destroyed by the Swedes in 1655, leaving only the ruins that are still in good condition today. The best preserved part is the prison tower, which is 35 meters high.
Old Market Square
The central square in the Middle Ages was the meeting place for citizens and the commercial center of the city. Here was also the Town Hall, but in the following years it was destroyed and today only a small monument remains to signal its remains.
The Częstochowa Market Square is surrounded by wonderful public houses built between the 18th and 19th centuries. In the square it is also possible to see the monument dedicated to the Jews (the Częstochowa Ghetto was quite important), which stands exactly on the place where the deportation of the Jews took place in 1942. A copy of the timetables for the trains leading to the Treblinka Concentration Camp is posted here.
Dom Frankego (Franke’s House)
Franke’s house is a delightful Berlin and Viennese style residence. The owner in the past was Adolf Franke, famous owner of a large textile factory present in the city at the time.
What makes this house famous, however, is the role it played during the Second World War. The building, in fact, being on the border with the Czestochowa Ghetto, was used by many Jews as an escape route. In fact, through an internal staircase of the building, many Jews managed to escape from the ghetto. It later became a hotel and a German military hospital.
The museum is housed in the former match factory, which remained in operation from 1881 to 2010. The famous Polish matches with the black cat icon were produced here.
Inside it is now possible to see the machinery of the time in operation and witness the cutting of wood, drying and other stages of processing. Also in a section of the museum are exhibited sculptures of matches and several vintage boxes dating back to the early 1900s.
Mining Museum – Muzeum Górnictwa Rud Żelaza w Częstochowie
The museum is located within one of the city’s parks, Staszic Park, and is dedicated to the mining of iron, once one of the main industries of the city.
The underground path winds through various tunnels and hosts the permanent exhibition “The history of iron ore mining”. It is possible to see equipment, machines and work tools once used by miners, as well as multimedia presentations and films that tell the history of the mine and explain the various methods of extraction.
Trail of the Eagle’s Nests
The Trail of the Eagle’s Nests is a road route of about 160 km that goes from Krakow to Częstochowa, crossing the plateau between wonderful fortresses, castles, villages, caves and woods.
These include the Olsztyn Castle, the ruins near Mirów, the Royal Castle of Bobolice and the Ogrodzieniec Castle are absolutely unmissable. In the summer and spring seasons, it can also be traveled by bicycle.
Best Restaurants in Czestochowa
The restaurant is located inside a building from the 1900s. In addition to excellent craft beers, it houses a restaurant and a hotel. Inside you can see how craft beer is made. The restaurant’s menu includes excellent regional dishes such as żurek na maśle, a traditional Polish soup made from rye flour, pierogi with duck or goose fillet in beer sauce.
Pod Ratuszem Restaurant
The restaurant is located inside the Town Hall, in its evocative historic cellars. The restaurant offers traditional Polish dishes, as well as international cuisine specialties. Try the famous kućmok, a potato and bacon flan, served with beetroot and horseradish for starters, a specialty of Jurassic cuisine.
Złoty Garniec Restaurant
This typical restaurant is located right next to the station. It offers a menu full of old traditional Polish cuisine, including excellent gołąbki, minced meat rolls wrapped in cabbage leaves, with mushroom sauce and a delicious pork roast.
Best Hotels in Czestochowa
Browar Czenstochovia Hotel & SPA
Browar Czenstochovia Hotel & SPA is located near the bus station and offers its guests a wonderful experience. It has rooms with private bathroom, free toiletries and air conditioning. The reception is open 24 hours a day and parking is free. The property also houses an excellent brewery and restaurant.
The peculiarity of this hotel is the SPA, which can be accessed for a small fee, which offers sauna and massages of the highest level. But the real attraction, to be absolutely tried, are the beer spa sessions: yes, you got it right, here you can bathe in excellent, delicious beer.
Apartamenty Centrum Częstochowa Stara Kamienica
Located near the bus station, Apartamenty Centrum Częstochowa Stara Kamienica offers its guests beautiful and very spacious apartments.
All apartments have a fully equipped kitchen with fridge and stove and a private bathroom. The wifi is free and a private and free parking is available for guests.
Hotel Arche is located 400 meters from the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna. The reception is open 24 hours a day and private parking is available for guests.
The rooms are equipped with every comfort and private bathroom. In some there is also a small living room where you can relax. The hotel also offers its guests a restaurant serving regional and international specialties.
How to get to Czestochowa from Krakow
Most visitors choose to visit Częstochowa on a day trip from Krakow. There are excellent guided tours from Krakow, which include round-trip transport, professional guide, and tickets.
The bus station and the railway station are located a short distance from the city center, about 2 km from the sanctuary. There are numerous offer connections to major Polish cities such as Krakow, Katowice, Zakopane, Lodz and Warsaw.
From Krakow there are around 4 direct trains per day, which take around 2-3 hours to get to Częstochowa. Otherwise with a longer time, there are trains with interchanges in Katowice or Zakopane.
If you prefer to travel by bus, there are several local and international lines from Krakow. It takes about 2 hours of travel, without any changes.
The car is undoubtedly the best way, the DK1 and A4 roads lead from Krakow to Czestochowa in about 1.5 hours.
Useful Tips for Your Trip
Many people choose to visit Czestochowa on a day trip from Krakow, so here you can find the best useful tips to better plan your trip to Krakow and the wonderful region of Southern Poland: