A manufacturing city 100 kilometres south of Warsaw in the Masovian Voivodeship, Radom has many of the region’s big institutions and government buildings. In Medieval times the city gained a lot of prestige, as kings like Władysław II Jagiełło would stay here on their way from Kraków to Vilnius and host foreign envoys in the city.
Radom in the 21st century is an understated sort of place, and its low prices for food and drink means your złotys will go a long way. Something famous beyond Polish borders is the Radom Air Show every other August, the largest spectacle of its kind in Poland. The city has laid out the “Monuments of Radom” tourist trail, which will guide you to Medieval churches and elegant townhouses where Radom’s industrialists resided in the 19th century.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Radom:
1. Radom Village Museum
In bucolic rolling countryside on Radom’s southwestern outskirts is an outdoor museum that has put together more than 60 historic wooden buildings from around the Radom region.
The oldest of these is the Church of St Dorota from Wolanów, dating to 1749, which has beautiful Baroque trompe l’oeil paintings in its interior.
There’s another church in the village, along with windmills and all sorts of historic structures like forges, meeting hall, two manor houses, an apiary, several farm ensembles, a courthouse and a sawmill.
There are also sheep, goats and chickens in the farmyards, while you can duck inside most of the buildings to see the historic interiors and exhibitions on topics like horse-drawn transport, agricultural tools, beekeeping and animal husbandry.
There are also special exhibitions at Christmas and Easter, and celebrations throughout the year like a bread festival and potato festival.
2. Jacek Malczewski Museum
On the Market Square, Radom’s other top museum is in the striking former college for the Piarist order from 1756. The museum is named after Radom’s most famous son, the highly-regarded Symbolist painter Jacek Malczewski.
Several of his pieces are here, joined by a wealth of other 19th-century and 20th-century painting by the likes of the Realist Józef Chełmoński and the Academic painter Władysław Czachórski.
The museum also has an archaeology department, with interesting finds from Bronze Age burials, and a history department that has contemporary documents from the January Uprising of 1863-64 and the Kościuszko Uprising from 1794. And finally the natural history section has wide-ranging exhibits for botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and a variety of other fields.
3. Kościół św. Wacława (Church of St Wenceslaus)
The oldest church in Radom, and the city’s parish church for hundreds of years, was first erected in the 13th century.
This compact building has had a troubled history, but there are clear traces of the earliest architecture in its five ogival window openings and three buttresses.
The nave is a little newer than the chancel, dating to the 14th century and its western gable was remodelled in the early Renaissance style in the 1500s.
Things first went awry during the Napoleonic Wars when the church became an Austrian granary, then a military warehouse during the Duchy of Warsaw and then a Russian prison at the start of the 20th century.
After the war it was even a psychiatric hospital ward before being re-consecrated, hosting its first service in 1985.
4. Resursa Obywatelska
At Ulica Malczewskiego 16 is the lavish hall built to host events to raise money for the Hospital of St. Kazimierz.
The Resursa Obywatelska, completed in 1852 has Neoclassical architecture, with an allegorical bas-relief on its pediment for Caritas or “charity”. On the roof are statues of three muses, Euterpe, Clio and Melpomene.
In its glory days at the end of the 1800s, the Resursa put on masquerade balls, concerts, theatre performances and poetry recitals.
Later, in the First World War it was used as a hospital, and from 1939 was commandeered by the Nazis, becoming the “Deutsches Haus”. Fully restored, it’s an elegant monument in the centre of Radom, and in the little square in front is a statue to Jan Malczewski.
5. Ulica Stefana Żeromskiego
This wide and stately pedestrian cuts east to west through Radom’s central Śródmieście district.
Most of the street was built up rapidly in the 19th century, and is fronted by Neoclassical, Historicist and Art Nouveau tenement houses.
The finer residential buildings still carry the names of the entrepreneurs who owned them (Kociubski, Gozman, Czempinski, Urbanowicz). Some to keep on your radar are the Neoclassical Kierzkowski Palace at no. 35, the Neo-Renaissance Podworski House at no. 37 and the Balińskich-Hemplów Palace, a clutch of Neoclassical buildings by the architect Stefan Baliński as his private residence.
In summer there’s always a steady flow of sightseers and residents out for walks, and lots of bar terraces if you fancy a break.
6. Rynek (Market Square)
After Old Radom was destroyed by the Lithuanians in the 14th century, King Casimir III the Great set out the location of the new town, and this square was at its centre.
Nowadays the Market Square is a little sleepy, and you may see groups of elderly folk chatting under the big willow tree in summer.
At no. 4, Dom Esterki is a copper-coloured house, given a Mannerist update in the 17th century.
You can go in for a little museum about the origin of the town’s Medieval relocation.
Another fine old house is the Baroque Dom Gąski at no. 5, rumoured to be where Charles X Gustav of Sweden stayed in Radom in 1656. Marshal Józef Piłsudski came to the square in 1930 for the unveiling of the Monument to the Legions, subsequently pulled down by the Nazis and then restored in 1998.
7. Town Hall
On the north side of the square is the town hall, which currently sits empty after its offices were moved to the much larger Pałac Sandomierski close by.
The town hall is the second to be built on the square as its predecessor, which had stood since the 14th century, was demolished in 1819. This Neo-Renaissance building was built in the late-1840s and was conceived by the Italian architect Enrico Marconi.
With its square tower, it looks like a simplified version of a Tuscan palazzo, and on the facade you can identify the coats of arms for Poland and Radom.
8. Stary Ogród (Old Garden)
Drawn up in 1822, Radom’s oldest public park is also one of the oldest in Poland.
You’ll find this seven-hectare garden just to the northwest of the central Śródmieście quarter.
The little Mleczna River, a right tributary of the Radomka, flows through the park and feeds the pond at the centre.
The park lost its splendour in the Second World War when it was overrun by German warehouses.
There was a swift restoration after the war, but in 2014 a more thorough remodelling took place, laying out new promenades and a bike path, as well as a playground and a new space where residents come for games of chess.
9. Kościół św. Jana Chrzciciela (Church of St John the Baptist)
Back in 1854, Jacek Malczewski was baptised at this church, which dates to the time of King Casimir III the Great in the mid-14th century.
Many changes have been made to the architecture since then, especially at the start of the 19th century when it was in a state of disrepair and had to be partly pulled down and rebuilt.
But even though a lot of what awaits you here is relatively new, one thing that has stood the test of time is the Mannerist chapel funded by the politician Jan Kochanowski at the start of the 17th century.
The nave ceiling is also pretty for its colourful, Gothic-style paintings that are much newer than they look and date to the 1970s.
10. Zalew Borki
There’s no better place in Radom to pass a hot weekend afternoon than this nine-hectare reservoir a couple of kilometres southwest of the centre.
On these days you can lounge on the sandy beach on the north shore, pick up a refreshment from the cafe and rent a pedal boat or canoe to see what you can find around the banks.
It’s up to you whether you’re brave enough to take a swim, but the good news is that this once contaminated lake was drained, cleaned and sealed at the start of the 2000s.
Perhaps it’s a good sign that there are large stocks of pike, perch, tench, carp and bass.
11. Pałac Sandomierski
At Ulica Żeromskiego 53 is another monument recommended by the city.
Pałac Sandomierski came about after Radom became of the seat of the provincial authorities for the Radom Governorate in Congress Poland, the Russian-controlled portion of the country.
With a slew of new officials now based in Radom, a new chamber was required.
This Neoclassical building was designed by the Florentine architect Antonio Corazzi and was completed by 1827. Today it houses municipal offices and delegations of provincial institutions for the Masovian Voivodeship.
Something worth noting about the palace architecture is that the north wing is an extension from the time of the Nazi occupation in the Fascist Modernist style.
12. Klasztor i Kościół oo. Bernardynów (Baernardine Monastery and Church)
This active monastery is run by the Bernardine order, which was invited to Poland by King Casimir IV Jagiellon in the 15th century.
The order has some 30 monasteries across the country and abroad, in Italy, Germany and Argentina.
Established in 1468, the complex in Radom is one of the best-preserved monasteries in Poland.
Almost everything is built with bricks that the monks baked themselves at their brick factory.
The most valuable fitting in the church is the Late Gothic main altar, sculpted with passion scenes and possible crafted at the workshop of the German master Veit Stoss.
In the walls of the chancel and nave are ledger stones and ornate Baroque memorials for local nobility going back to the 17th century.
13. Dom Glogierów
Another stop on the “Monuments of Radom” tourist trail is the eye-catching house that the government official and future Polish Senator Maciej Glogier built for himself in 1914. For this project he hired Józef Pius Dziekoński, one of the most prolific architects of the day, who drew up dozens of churches and other monuments around Poland.
Finished in 1914 Dom Glogierów on Ulica Sienkiewicza, is a big mishmash of styles and easy to identify for its asymmetrical facade.
Looking like a French château transported to the centre of Radom, there’s a mansard roof with a very elaborate dormer, Baroque-style pinnacles, a recess with ionic columns, quoins on the corners and a balustrade under the windows of the second floor.
14. Cmentarz żydowski (Jewish Cemetery)
The story of Radom’s Jewish Cemetery is as tragic as you’d expect, but has a glint of redemption at the end.
It was founded in 1832 during a cholera epidemic despite, and grew at the same rate as Radom’s Jewish population, which swelled to 30,000 by the turn of the 20th century.
The Nazis destroyed it in the war, and over the next few decades the matzevahs (gravestones) were discovered in unlikely places, paving roads, on the airport runway, incorporated into buildings, lining the banks of streams and in sewers.
But through a joint Israeli-Polish effort, prison inmates have been recruited (voluntarily) to restore the cemetery.
In 2010 a new lapidarium monument was unveiled at an event attended by Poland’s Chief Rabbi.
15. Radom Air Show
The city’s airport, three kilometres east of the centre, has a modern terminal building, but has never staged scheduled flights for more than a few months at a time.
Instead it is used for pilot training and military flights.
The airport does spring to life every two years for the largest air show in Poland.
This is held at the end of August, attracting tens of thousands of people, and is funded by the Air Force, the airport, the city and the local flight club.
Aerobatics teams from all over Europe put on demonstrations, and you can check out all kinds of aircraft on the ground, from fighters to helicopters, personnel carriers and surveillance planes like the Boeing E-3 Sentry.