Sandomierz is known for its Old Town, a major tourist attraction.
In the course of the 13th century the city suffered grievous damage during raids by Mongols in 1241, 1259 and 1287. The old wooden buildings of the town were completely destroyed. As a result, in 1286 the city was effectively refounded by Leszek Czarny, under Magdeburg Law. The founding document is still preserved in the city archives.
After Polish lands were reunified in the 14th century, the former principality became the Sandomierz Voivodeship, incorporating large areas of southeastern Poland. At this time Sandomierz had about 3000 inhabitants and was one of the larger Polish cities. In the middle of the 14th century the city was burned again during a raid by the Lithuanians. It was rebuilt during the rule of king Casimir III of Poland. The layout of the city has survived practically unchanged since that time until the present day.
The following three hundred years, running until the middle of the 17th century, were quite prosperous for the city. The most important historical buildings were built during this period. This golden age came to an end in 1655 when Swedish forces captured the city in the course of the Deluge. After briefly holding out in the city, the withdrawing Swedes blew up the castle and caused heavy damage to other buildings. In the next 100 years the economy of Poland suffered a decline, which also affected the city. A great fire in 1757 and the First Partition of Poland in 1772, which placed Sandomierz in Austria, further reduced its status. As a result Sandomierz lost its role as an administrative capital.
In 1809 the city was damaged during fighting between the forces of Austria and the Duchy of Warsaw during the Napoleonic Wars.After 1815 it found itself in the Russian Empire (Congress Poland). At this point it had just 2640 inhabitants.
The city again suffered damage during World War I. In 1918 it again became part of independent Poland. In September 1939, following the German invasion of Poland, the city was occupied by Germany and made part of the General Government. The Jewish population of the city, consisting of about 2,500 people, perished during the Holocaust, mostly in the death camps of Bełżec and Treblinka. The city was captured by the Soviet army in August, 1944.
No major industrial development took place in Sandomierz, thus preserving it as a charming, small city full of historical monuments among unspoiled landscape.
Principal tourist attraction in Sandomierz: