From the Sandomierz web site.
Sandomierz is a town with 1,000 years of history, which is picturesquely located on the River Vistula, at a steep slope of the Swietokrzyskie Mountains, which are suddenly cut by the flowing river. Similarly like Krakow and Warsaw, it is situated on the River Vistula, in the place where the River San flows into it. After the foundation of the Polish State, Sandomierz, next to Krakow and Wroclaw, played the role of a sedes regni principales, i.e. main ruler's seat. Later, it served as the capital of the Sandomierz Duchy, and of the Sandomierz Province. It was in the Sandomierz Castle that the town charter for Lvov/Lviv was signed. In 1570, at the Olesniccy’s tenement house, the Sandomierz Accord was agreed, under which representatives of Lutherans, Calvins and Czech Brothers living in Poland developed their catechism. Jewish community of Sandomierz was the second largest in Poland.
The royal town, which was rich thanks to its affluent residents, enjoyed numerous privileges granted by individual monarchs. Traders' caravans passing through the town offered their goods for sale and local traders dug deep in the ground to build adequate cellars and stores for them, which today can be seen along the Underground Tourist Route. In the inter-war period, Sandomierz was planned to become the capital of a Central Industrial District, however the outbreak of World War II put these plans to a halt.
Tourists coming to Sandomierz will find out original medieval street layout and development there. Knight fights and Renaissance dance shows organized there each weekend of the tourist season augment the historic appeal of the town. From the deck of one of excursion ships that sail along the River Vistula, you can admire the panorama of the Old Town. The Opatowska Gate, the only preserved town's gate, is a very popular local spot and flagship of Sandomierz, from which you can see the view of the bending river and neighboring areas. Sandomierz features 120 different historic sights. The most popular ones, apart from the Opatowska Gate, include the Renaissance Town Hall, Cathedral and Castle that date back to the times of King Casmir the Great, and four hundred years old Collegium Gostomianum, one of the oldest schools in Poland.
Visitors to Sandomierz can attend numerous events held there. The most popular ones include Strawberry Sunday staged in June, Szantomierz Festival held in July and Music in Sandomierz one held in September, as well as two-day St Vincent's church fair. Tourist season lasts there from April to October. The town offers ample accommodation to tourists – different class hotels, motels, inns, camp sites, boarding houses, hostels, BBs and agritourism farms will cater for everyone's needs. Apart from having contact with history, Sandomierz also features natural attributes. The town is situated on the River Vistula, on seven hills, where you can hike in picturesque loess gorges. Pieprzowe Hills nature reserve, which is the ending of Swietokrzyskie Mountains is situated within the town's limits. Thanks to local parks and neighboring orchards, the town is covered in greenery. Sandomierz has a comprehensive educational offer ranging from nursery schools to universities. Three schools of higher education operate there and offer studies in fifteen different majors. Moreover, a number of associations supporting local communities activity, which publish three periodicals and promote Sandomierz, operate in the town.
Not only local residents, but also its fans from abroad who fell in love at the first sight with the town are members of the associations.
Sandomierz a town whose roots reach back over ten centuries, is picturesquely situated on the edge of Kielecko - Sandomierska Upland, declining in the form of huge slopes into the Vistula valley. Formerly Sandomierz belonged to the biggest towns in Poland. As sedes regni principalis it used to be a duke’s seat and a royal residence. Bound up with Christianity for ten ages, together with a nearby Zawichost it was also a communication link of international trade route, leading from Western Europe through Wrocław, Cracow, Wiślica and Sandomierz to Rus and further eastwards until Mongolian Empire. Sandomierz and Zawichost guarded the main ford across the Vistula. Since the 12th century Sandomierz and the region were included into the scheme of christianisation of the East by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, which was marked by the foundation of a Cistercian abbey in nearby Koprzywnica in 1185, followed in the early 13th century by a Dominican monastery in Sandomierz (1226) and a Clarist one in Zawichost (1245). The convent of Dominican friars in Sandomierz was the second convent in Małopolska (preceded by the Cracow one), and the Clarist Convent was one of the first in East-Central Europe. Polish princes, bishops and feudal lords supported these foundations. The location of monasteries along the main route bound Sandomierz with Europe not only politically, but first of all economically and culturally. These associations were mutual, e.g. the architectural solutions of churches of Dominican and Clarist monasteries had a great influence on the monastery design in Western Europe. The existence of four churches in Sandomierz in the 12th century, recorded in written sources, together with their parish schools, especially the collegiate one, was not only of local significance. The status of Sandomierz was confirmed by the position of the Collegiate Church, which was the second in Poland after the Cracow one. The historic researches prove high and appreciated abroad teaching level in the collegiate school. The high level of Sandomierz school education was preserved nearly until now. In the 16th century dozens of Sandomierz citizens studied in the Cracow Academy. The citizens of Sandomierz were: Sebastian Petrycy from Pilzno - a doctor and a famous translator and commentator of Aristotle’s works, Jan Porębny, a doctor of medicine and philosophy, and the most famous among doctors - Stanisław Bartolon Starszy (the Elder). Marcin from Urzędów after studies in Padua and Cracow settled in Sandomierz, where he created the first Polish botanical dictionary. Unquestionably, the most famous citizen of Sandomierz was Mikołaj Gomółka - a composer, the author of “the Melodies for the Polish Psalter” (1580) to the words by John Kochanowski. In the 17th century the Sandomierz Jesuits founded a secondary school of a new type (Collegium Gostomianum) and ran it until the order annulment in 1773. Connected with Sandomierz Collegium were, among others, Alexander Rzączyński, an outstanding physiographer and ornithologist and Joseph Karsznicki, an architect. In the interwar period the General Regional University was founded and led by a great educator and regionalist Alexander Patkowski. It was situated in the post-Jesuit edifice. Since 1636 there has been the Seminary College in Sandomierz. Today there are here as well: the Linguistic College, the Liturgical Institute of PAT (the Pope’s Academy of Theology) and the University College of Arts and Natural Science. The long-lasting bloom of Sandomierz has endowed the town with numerous municipal and sacral buildings, founded and erected by men of a great culture and tolerance. What is worth mentioning here is a special privilege from 1367 that guaranteed royal protection to the local Jewish community, which was, after the Cracow one, the largest in Poland, as well as the “Sandomierz Agreement” from 1570 between Calvinists, Lutherans and Hussites (Bohemian Brothers). From among over 120 monuments of architecture in Sandomierz the following are recognized as the most valuable: the architectural - landscape complex of the Old Town, preserving the lay-out from the second half of the 14th century and the Dominican monastery complex of St. James’s Church. There are also preserved remains of Gothic fortified walls with the Opatowska Gate and the Castle, as well as the Town Hall, the Cathedral, numerous churches, burghers’ houses and suburban manor-houses. Despite all its historical misfortunes, Sandomierz undoubtedly has always been a European city as it preserved the various marks of the history of Europe and it belongs to its cultural heritage.