By Charles Tanford & Jacqueline Reynolds


Frombork (the former Frauenburg, east of Gdansk) was home base for Copernicus. It is the city in which he held the position of Canon of the Cathedral. The old, fortified cathedral still stands on a hilltop, surrounded by stone walls from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and it has a remembrance tablet (from 1735) to the famous astronomer in the nave. The tower in the northwest part of the courtyard, built in the late fourteenth century, is named for Copernicus, and the sixteenth-century Bishop’s Palace in the south-west corner contains the Copernicus Museum. Here one finds old copies of De Revolutionibus and other memorabilia of both the man and the times.

Copernicus travelled extensively in the execution of his canonical duties, and the Polish Tourist Office publishes a map and guide to the region around Frombork listing nearly every village and town that Copernicus ever had occasion to visit. Making a circuit of 125 miles (200 km), we are directed to Braniewo (once Braunsberg and an important city of the Order of Teutonic Knights), then to Pieniezno, the village that used to be the seat of the religious Chapter of the See of Warmia-Copernicus lived here for two years. We then proceed to Orneta, where Copernicus was sent to receive oaths of loyalty (and taxes!) from the local serfs and from there to Lidzbark Warminski, where his uncle, the Bishop, had his home-Copernicus, among his other activities, served as the Bishop’s secretary and medical advisor. Lidzbark Warminski has a fine medieval Gothic castle, well-preserved and now housing a museum. Finally we are led to Olsztyn, a city with a popular folk museum, where Copernicus is said to have been put in charge of the defences against one of the invaders of the early sixteenth century. Our “monk” emerges as versatile man!