Rzeszow, temporary residence of American troops, is the cultural center of southeastern Poland

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The sun sets behind the Ratusz, or Town Hall, over Rzeszow, Polands Rynek, or Market Square. The town hall was built at the end of the 16th century. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Outside of Poland, most people were probably unaware of Rzeszow, a medium-sized city in southeastern Poland that has recently made headlines due to the outbreak of a new war in Europe.

Thousands of refugees passed through after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Troops from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division deployed nearby and President Joe Biden surrendered in late March.

Rzeszow is an old town, first inhabited in the 10th century and granted town rights in 1354 by Polish King Casimir III the Great.

Today, the region has a population of around 200,000 and the attributes of modernity, such as information technology and thriving aviation industries.

While it doesn’t have the flair of Krakow or the shimmer of Warsaw, the city is worth a visit if you’re in southeastern Poland.

Its two most distinctive sites are the Old Town Market Square, home to the Town Hall, and the Monument to Revolutionary Action.

The first is a large cobbled square lined with restaurants, cafes and shops. The ornate town hall was built at the end of the 16th century.

The latter, also called Monument to the Revolutionary Struggle, was erected in 1974 as a communist remembrance of the battles of the Second World War in the region.

Two stylized laurel leaves soar some 125 feet into the Polish sky, dominating a busy city intersection. A giant Nike, the goddess of victory, adorns one side of the monument, a sculpture of a soldier, worker and peasant on the other.

The Revolutionary Action Monument in Rzeszow, Poland.  Also called the Monument to the Revolutionary Struggle, it was designed by Marian Konieczny and erected in 1974 as a communist monument to the WWII battles in the area.  Pictured here is Nike, the goddess of victory.  On the other side is a sculpture of a soldier, a worker and a peasant.

The Revolutionary Action Monument in Rzeszow, Poland. Also called the Monument to the Revolutionary Struggle, it was designed by Marian Konieczny and erected in 1974 as a communist monument to the WWII battles in the area. Pictured here is Nike, the goddess of victory. On the other side is a sculpture of a soldier, a worker and a peasant. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Despite past rumors of it being torn down due to its connection to communism, the giant keepsake survives.

Nearby, and worth a visit for fun, is one of the few circular footbridges in Europe. It crosses the busy intersection of Pilsudskiego and Grunwaldzka streets in downtown Rzeszow.

This bridge, built over the busy intersection of Pilsudskiego and Grunwaldzka streets in Rzeszow, Poland, is one of the few circular footbridges in Europe.

This bridge, built over the busy intersection of Pilsudskiego and Grunwaldzka streets in Rzeszow, Poland, is one of the few circular footbridges in Europe. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Back in the old town, take a stroll down 3 Maja Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants. At one end is the parish church of St. Stanislaus and St. Wojciech. Its oldest part dates from the beginning of the 15th century.

People walk in the 3 Maja pedestrian zone, a street lined with shops in Rzeszow, Poland.  Lit by a setting sun in the background is the parish church of St. Stanislaus and St. Wojciech.

People walk in the 3 Maja pedestrian zone, a street lined with shops in Rzeszow, Poland. Lit by a setting sun in the background is the parish church of St. Stanislaus and St. Wojciech. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Lubomirski Castle in Rzeszow, Poland.  First built at the end of the 16th century, the complex has seen many modifications since then, with the current version being built at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, when it was then used as a district court.

Lubomirski Castle in Rzeszow, Poland. First built at the end of the 16th century, the complex has seen many modifications since then, with the current version being built at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, when it was then used as a district court. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

The top of the bell tower of the Parish Church of Saint Stanislaus and Saint Wojciech in Rzeszow, Poland.  The oldest part of the church dates from the beginning of the 15th century.

The top of the bell tower of the Parish Church of Saint Stanislaus and Saint Wojciech in Rzeszow, Poland. The oldest part of the church dates from the beginning of the 15th century. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

The Holy Cross Church in downtown Rzeszow, Poland was built in the mid-17th century.  He was part of a Piarist convent.

The Holy Cross Church in downtown Rzeszow, Poland was built in the mid-17th century. He was part of a Piarist convent. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Beneath the Market Square are the Rzeszow Cellars, which stretch over 1,200 feet through 25 basements.

On Cichociemnych Square is an interesting sculpture called “Przejscie 2001”, which means “Transition 2001”. According to the artist, it symbolizes the arrival of a new era and the crossing of the border between life and death.

In the center of Rzeszow, Poland's Cichociemnych Square is this interesting sculpture by local artist Jozef Szajna called

In the center of Rzeszow, Polands Cichociemnych Square is this interesting sculpture by local artist Jozef Szajna called “Przejscie 2001” or Transition 2001. The square is named after exiled Polish Army special operations paratroopers from World War II worldwide, trained in Britain to operate in occupied Poland. Around the monument are plaques with the names of those deported to Auschwitz. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

The square is named after elite exiled Polish Army paratroopers who were trained in Britain during World War II to operate in occupied Poland. Around the monument are plaques with the names of those deported to Auschwitz.

Rzeszow had a large Jewish population before the Holocaust, and two old synagogues are still visible.

The Old Town Synagogue was built at the turn of the 17th century and is now part of the state archives. The synagogue in the new town, burnt down by the Nazis during their retreat, has been rebuilt and is now used by associations of Polish artists.

At the edge of the Old Town, overlooking the Wislok River, is Lubomirski Castle. Built at the end of the 16th century, the complex has undergone many modifications since then.

The current version was built at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was used as a district court.

Across the river, modern Rzeszow rises, full of new apartment buildings and gleaming glass and concrete offices. Nearby are the university and a giant consumer temple, the Millennium Hall shopping mall.

The section of Rzeszow, Poland across the Wislok River from the castle is full of modern glass and concrete buildings like this office/apartment tower and the giant Millennium Hall shopping mall.

The section of Rzeszow, Poland across the Wislok River from the castle is full of modern glass and concrete buildings like this office/apartment tower and the giant Millennium Hall shopping mall. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

The colorful Narutowicza Bridge is reflected in the Wislok River running through Rzeszow, Poland.

The colorful Narutowicza Bridge is reflected in the Wislok River running through Rzeszow, Poland. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Rzeszow is around nine hours drive from Grafenwoehr, or a short direct flight from London Stansted Airport. Polish airlines LOT fly there regularly. Accommodation is restricted due to the refugee situation, so check in advance if you are going.


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