Masovian Voivodeship is located in central Poland and is the largest
Polish voivodeship with the capital in Warsaw. Other major cities are
Płock and Radom. The voivodeship borders on the west with the
Kuyavian-Pomeranian and Łódź voivodeships, on the south with the
Świętokrzyskie voivodeship, on the east with the Podlaskie and Lublin
voivodeships, and on the north with the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship.
The name can be interpreted as land of the swamp dwellers or land of
swamps. According to other opinions, the name derives from Ebene or the
name of Miecław, the cupbearer of King Mieszko Lambert, who ruled the
country at the beginning of the 11th century. The name Masuria, which
was settled by the Masovians, derives from Mazovia. The voivodeship is
characterized in the south by gentle hills and the Lesser Poland Vistula
Gorge, in the center, north and east by the valleys of the Vistula, Bug
and Narew and the surrounding marshes and almost everywhere by dense
Brick Gothic castle ruins and churches bear witness to the pride of the independent Piast princes in the Middle Ages, and baroque and classicist palaces to the wealth of the Polish nobility in the early modern period. There are numerous traces of Jewish culture. As a plain, Mazovia is characterized by numerous willow avenues and streams. The romantic-melancholic landscape shaped the mazurkas and polonaises of Fryderyk Chopin, who was born in Żelazowa Wola in Mazovia and grew up in Warsaw. In contrast to the dark green forests is the white, fine-grained sand, through whose sandbanks sky-blue rivers meander wildly. As the largest Polish metropolis, Warsaw is characterized by numerous palaces and parks in the Baroque and Classicist styles and many Baroque and Romantic parks, which make it one of the greenest cities in Europe.
Mazovia came to Poland in the 10th century. In the 11th century,
Płock was the capital of Poland for a short time. Kings Herman and
Boleslaus III are buried in Płock Cathedral. In the period of
territorial fragmentation from 1138 it was a principality and itself
split into several duchies ruled by the Mazovian Piasts. Here, the
division into three areas around Płock, Czersk and Rawa Mazowiecka
proved to be permanent. In 1226 Conrad of Mazovia brought the Teutonic
Order to the Dobriner and Kulmer Lands, which previously belonged to his
dominions. After brief reunifications of Masovia around 1300 and 1370.
Masovia became a Polish fiefdom as early as the middle of the 14th
century. With the extinction of the Piasts, the Principality of Rawa
came back to Poland in 1462/1476, followed by the Principality of Płock
in 1495 and finally in 1526 the Principality of Czersk, which has had
its capital in Warsaw since 1406. In 1526 the Masovian Diet and in 1529
the Polish Diet confirmed the incorporation of Masovia into Poland.
Numerous brick Gothic buildings have been preserved from the time of
After the completion of the Polish-Lithuanian real union with the Union of Lublin in 1569, Masovia moved from the periphery to the center of the noble republic, the population grew, trade - especially on the Vistula, art and culture flourished. In 1596 Warsaw became the capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the royal court moved from Kraków to Warsaw. Gradually, the influential magnates also settled in and around Warsaw in order to be close to political events, especially at the meetings of the Reichstag. Baroque and classicist palaces arose, the petty nobility built estates in the Masovian villages around Warsaw. Artists and architects from Italy, Saxony and France designed the residences of the powerful secular and ecclesiastical princes. Baroque monasteries and church buildings soon shaped the whole of Mazovia.
After the three Polish partitions, Masovia came to Prussia and Austria at the end of the 18th century, under Napoleon to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and after the Congress of Vienna to Russia as Congress Poland. After World War I it became Polish again and Warsaw became the capital of Poland again.
Warsaw was badly damaged during World War II. The Jewish population in the ghettos and the Treblinka concentration camp were murdered. The reconstruction has already lasted for several decades, but is still not complete. However, Warsaw's old and new towns are already gleaming in new splendor, for which they have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 1999 today's Masovian Voivodeship was established.
The most famous part of Mazovia folklore is the dance and song ensemble Mazowsze.
Polish is the official and colloquial language. Polish is spoken with different dialects depending on which part of the voivodeship you are in. In the south it is the Lesser Polish, in the east the Podlachian and in the center the Mazovian dialect. In Warsaw, on the other hand, you will find a mishmash of all Polish dialects, as many Poles have recently moved to the capital. In the Masovian Voivodeship, the foreign language skills of the population are particularly good, especially in Warsaw. Almost all of the younger residents speak very good or good English. And finally, Polish is not as difficult to learn as one might initially think.
Historical Mazovia occupies the northern and central part of the voivodeship, while larger parts of it also lie in the Łódź and Podlaskie voivodeships. Small parts of historical Mazovia also lie in the Warmian-Masurian and Lublin Voivodeships. On the other hand, the voivodeship has a large share of the historical region of Podlaskie in the east and Lesser Poland in the south. A small part of eastern Kuyavia is also included in the voivodeship.
Historical Mazovia can in turn be divided into three regions, the
Plotzker Land, the Rawaer Land and the Czersker Land. The eastern part
of Plotzker Land is also known as Zawkrze, the northern part of Rawaer
Land as Kurpie and the northern part of Czersker Land as Warsaw Land.
Mazovia is characterized by the middle Vistula and its tributaries. In the south there is a hilly area around Radom, otherwise the glacial valley of the Vistula, the Warsaw Basin and the Mazovian Plain form the image of the region.
The historic Lesser Poland south of the Pilitza is characterized by rolling hills.
Historical Podlasie on the eastern Bug is a sparsely populated marshland.
The Plotzker Land with the capital Płock was temporarily the seat of government of the Kingdom of Poland in the High Middle Ages. The brick Gothic architecture still characterizes numerous old towns.
The Zawkrze, i.e. the land behind (east) the Wkra from Płock's point of view, is also strongly influenced by the Brick Gothic style. The seat of government here was Ciechanów.
The Rawaer Land stretched as a long strip from the south-west through the center to the north-east of Mazovia. The princely seat was Rawa Mazowiecka. Here, too, the brick Gothic style was predominant.
The northern, sparsely populated part of the Rawaer Land is occupied by the Kurpie region on the Kurpie Heath and the lower reaches of the Narew and Biebrza.
The Czersker Land formed the southern and eastern part of Mazovia on the Vistula, the Bug and the Liwiec. The seat of the princes was initially Czersk on the upper Vistula. In 1406 the seat was moved downriver to Warsaw.
The Warsaw Land formed the core region of the Voivodeship. It is the economically strongest and most densely populated region of the voivodeship and all of Poland. The metropolitan region differs greatly from the otherwise very natural surroundings of the voivodeship.