A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience – Seeing the Black Madonna of Częstochowa

After having traveled together for more than ten years, Lars and I have some favorite destinations, as you can imagine. One of them is certainly Poland, because of its rich cultural heritage, its sometimes turbulent history, and a huge variety of landscapes that will keep every photographer busy.

But the thing that struck us the most during every trip to this country is how devout the Polish people are. Coincidence or not, but every time we wanted to visit a church or cathedral, there was a mass going on, no matter what day of the week or the time of the day. We always had to wait until we could photograph any religious building. But nothing prepares you for a visit to the Black Madonna of Częstochowa and the emotion it evokes amongst religious people.

What is the Black Madonna?

In short, it is one of the most important shrines in Poland.

The icon is painted on wood and adorned with jewellery. Its origin can be traced back to the 14th century. It depicts the Holy Virgin holding Jesus on her lap.

Legend has it that St. Luke himself painted the icon. Via Constantinopel, it traveled all the way to Częstochowa where it arrived in the 14th century.


In order to see the Black Madonna, you will have to travel to Częstochowa, which is roughly in the south of Poland.

The name of the monastery where you can see it is Jasna Góra. Pauline monks founded it in the 14th century. Nowadays, it attracts lots of pilgrims.

The Visit

Lars and I stayed in a hotel not far from the site. We arrived at the monastery around 10 in the morning and although the parking lot is enormous, it was almost full. Anyway, we followed the masses to the basilica. In the beginning, we were surrounded by lots and lots of excited voices, but as soon as we entered the monastery, it became a lot quieter.

In the basilica, there was a mass going on. Since it was in Polish, we decided to observe the people around us and have a look at the building itself. One word to describe it: wow!

When the mass was over, we finally had the opportunity to have a closer look at the shrine.

Although I am not really a religious person, the veneration of the people was very touching. You could almost feel it.

One last look…

I am going to take it easy the next few weeks, so expect 1-2 posts per week. In order to avoid serious health problems, I need some rest. But we will be back soon!


Exploring the Judaica Trail in Warsaw

Lars and I were only in the Polish capital for 2 days and we knew that it was better to concentrate on one theme instead of running around aimlessly. The very first day, we went to the closest tourist information office possible.

We chose the places that appealed the most to us. To be honest, we were inspired by the movie “The Pianist”.


As the brochure says:

The Umschlagplatz monument is located in the place where in 1942 Jews were transported to the Treblinka extermination camp. The shape resembles the walls of the ghetto and a railway wagon, and more than four hundred names of victims are engraved on the walls. Walk from the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes to Umschlagplatz along the Memorial Route of the Martyrdom and Struggle of Jews and pay attention to the commemorative stones depicting the history of the most important figures of the Warsaw ghetto. (website of Tourist Infomation Office)

The Jewisch Cemetery

The ultimate place of peace and rest…

This historic place of rest contains beautiful tombstones and traditional matzevot. Many eminent persons are buried there, among them the founder of the Esperanto language Ludwik Zamenhof and the writer Ischok Leib Perec. Visit the symbolic grave of Janusz Korczak, the protector of children who during the World War II was murdered in Treblinka along with the children in his care in a gas chamber. (website of Tourist Infomation Office)

Monument to the Ghetto Heroes

The monument was created shortly after the World War II to commemorate those who fought and died in the Warsaw ghetto. It was at this monument in 1970 that the German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt in apology for the crimes committed by the Third Reich. (website of Tourist Infomation Office)

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Stay safe and see you later this week!

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