Masovian Voivodeship (Polish: województwo mazowieckie [vɔjɛˈvutstfɔ mazɔˈvjɛtskʲɛ]) is one of sixteen provinces of Poland. The largest city and the capital of Mazowieckie - Warsaw is also the capital of Poland.
Masovia is located in central Poland and has many faces. For many centuries it was outside the main Polish areas, but gained importance with the Vistula river trade in the 15th century and Warsaw becoming the seat of Polish kings in the late 16th century. Nowadays the Warsaw Metropolis is the wealthiest area in the country with high life standards. More rural areas, especially in the northern part, are considered to be one of the poorest though.
The borders of the voivodeship do not correspond to the historic ones. This is why some Masovian areas around Łomża, Skierniewice or Łowicz are oudside it, while important parts of Podlachia and Lesser Poland around Siedlce and Radom are incorporated.
Masovia was a part of Poland from the 10th century. At the beginning of the 11th century Płock in Masovia was for a short time the capital of Poland and two Polish kings from that period are buried in the Płock Cathedral. In 1138 Poland was divided in duchies united by the rule of the senior from Kraków and Masovia, with the capital in Płock, became one of these duchies ruled by Bolesław IV the Curly, the later senior of Poland, and his descendants from the local branch of the Piast dynasty. One of them was Konrad I of Masovia, who was the ruler who summoned the Teutonic Order to fight against the Old Prussians tribes in 1226. The duchy was divided into three smaller states ruled from Płock, Czersk (since 1413 Warsaw) and Rawa Mazowiecka. When the Polish kingdom was restored in 1295, the Duchy of Masovia remained first independent, but in 1351 the dukes of Masovia became vassals of the Kingdom of Poland. After the death of the last Masovian ruler, Janusz III of Masovia, in 1526, Masovia became an integral part of Poland.
15th and 16th centuries are considered to be the golden age of Masovia, as well as Polish Kingdom. Along major rivers cities were flourishing, especially Warsaw, Płock, Łomża, Ciechanów, Pułtusk. In the 16th century it was a densly populated, but weakly urbanised area. Many settlers from the region moved to the neighbouring regions of Prussia and Lithuania. Masovia was annexed by Prussia in the 1795 during the third partition of Poland. In 1807 it became part of the Duchy of Warsaw during the Napoleonic Wars and later part of the Congress Poland after the Congress of Vienna. In 1918 Masovia was included within the newly formed the Second Polish Republic. During World War II Nazi Germany occupied Poland and Masovia was divided between the General Government and the Province of East Prussia. It was subsequently restored to Poland after the war.
In 1999 the new Masovian Voivodeship was formed. Despite its name, the new borders aren’t historic ones.
- 1 Ciechanów – a small city in the north of the region known for the gothic castle ruins and the regional brewery Ciechan
- 2 Ostrołęka – a small city in the north-eastern Masovia in the middle of Kurpie folkloristic region
- 3 Płock – old Medieval centre of Masovia with many historic sites, located on a picturesque hill above the Vistula river
- 4 Radom – a city within the historic Lesser Poland region, but integrated in 1999 into Masovia. Historic centre and several museums
- 5 Siedlce – a small baroque city on the border between historic lands of Lesser Poland, Podlachia and Masovia.
- 6 Warsaw — the capital of Poland, a city of unique, long and turbulent history is nowadays one of the EU's new thriving business centers. The Old Town has been rebuild according to classicist paintings of Canaletto after the destruction of World War II
- 1 Czerwińsk nad Wisłą — a historic town on the Vistula River known for one of the best preserved romanesque churches in Poland
- 2 Kampinos National Park
- 3 Konstancin-Jeziorna — a spa resort on the Vistula River
- 4 Szydłowiec – small historic town south of Radom in the historic Lesser Poland region
- 5 Żelazowa Wola – birthplace of Fryderyk Chopen, one of the best known 19th century pianists
Being home to Warsaw, travelers here will find the most diverse population group of Poland in Masovian Voivodeship and with that the most diverse collection of languages can be found here too. Naturally, Polish is the most widely spoken language, but following that, people will also find a multitude of Poles and foreigners who speak other languages such as English and German. Russian, Ukrainian, and Czech can be understood by a fair amount of Slavic language speakers. Some Poles will also be able to speak Spanish and French. Outside of Warsaw Metropolitan Area, the accessibility of information in other languages may be a bit lower. As it is common in Poland, knowledge of English is more widespread among the people under 40.
Due to the central location of Warsaw, the region is fairly easily accessible from all around the world by plain, train or car.
Warsaw's Frederic Chopin Airport (WAW IATA) is the major airport, an intercontinental hub served by most of Europe's traditional airlines, including the national carrier LOT Polish Airlines (who offers direct flights to Chicago, New York, Toronto and Beijing), as well as Emirates and Qatar Airways. From the Chopin Airport you can reach most other major European airports directly, and with transfers you can easily reach other continents or smaller airports in Europe. Most domestic airports in Poland also have connections to the Chopin Airport via LOT's short-haul subsidiary, Eurolot.
The Modlin Airport (WMI IATA) to the north of Warsaw was opened in 2012 to serve low-fare airlines, and WizzAir and Ryanair offered a rich variety of connections. In late 2012, Modlin was closed temporarily due to technical problems. For at least the first half of 2013, all WizzAir and Ryanair flights are rerouted to Chopin Airport because of that. Please note that this is a temporary solution and will likely change once Modlin is reopened and check with airlines for details.
Łódź Lublinek Władysław Reymont airport is about 1.5 hours drive from Warsaw and close to many destinations in Southern and Western Mazowieckie.
Public transportation is a great way to move around the major cities as well as between them. More rural areas are often more car dependend though.
Koleje Mazowieckie is the regional train company in Masovia. The main routes within the region are from Warsaw to Skierniewice, to Kutno, to Łuków, to Małkinia, to Dęblin, to Skarżysko-Kamienna, and to Iłowo.
- Royal Castle in Warsaw
- One of many museums in Warsaw
- Płock cathedral
- A small town of Pułtusk
- Masovian Village Open Air Museum in Sierpc
In Warsaw and other cities, commonsense precautions should prevail - don't flash large amounts of cash around, ensure the safe keeping of valuables, and the like. In rural areas, you'll need to take a few more precautions to save yourself time and hassle. Outside of Warsaw, you'll have a much more difficult time finding doctors or police. In some places, there won't be any gas stations or populated places around for many kilometers. So, you'll want to bring a map so as not to get lost.
Masovian Voivodeship borders six other Polish voivodeships: