Saturday, 26 March 2016

Lipnica Murowana

Today I will take you to a small village in Southern part of Poland, called Lipnica Murowana. You may wonder why we are visiting a village that has less than a thousand inhabitants but I hope that this sign will give you the right answer.

And yes, we came here to see just one specific building. It looks quite modest from a distance.

Yet, the Saint Leonard church is one of the churches being part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Wooden Churches of Southern Małopolska.

And yes, you guessed it right, it is all built of wood. Even the roof is made of wooden shingle.

Today it serves mainly as a cemetery chapel.

Inside, the walls and the ceiling are also made of wood, with interesting paintings called polychrome.

In the back you will find a small gallery.

As you probably noticed, the church is rather dark inside. The reason for that is that, like many other churches built in the fifteenth century, the Saint Leonard church has only windows from the Southern side and has doors heading South and West. In the middle of the church comes a cross.

And in the front you will find, of course, the altar.

One amazing thing about the altar is that it is supported by a huge piece of wood that is well over a thousand years old and dates back to times when the inhabitants of this region were still pagan.

This wooden pillar was in fact a central place of worship of Slavic people living there centuries ago. When you look up, you will see a whole that was accommodating a second piece of wood - missionaries converting the region into Christianity turn it into a cross. Yet, when you look a bit down, you can still see some remaining of the old pagan god with four faces.

 Next to the altar you can see some further religious paintings.

And behind it you may admire liturgical vestments called chasubles.

They are beautifully ornamented and come in different colours for different parts of the year.

Before we leave, I wanted to show you two things. This wooden plate says that the Saint Simon from Lipnica was praying there and managed to talk to one of the saints in the pictures. I will keep to myself my thoughts about people talking with paintings.

And here comes the UNESCO certificate.

Let's take one last glimpse at the Saint Leonard church from the outside - this time the North side (no windows as you see!).

You may see many similar churches across the Southern part of Poland. Not all of them are on the UNESCO list but to be honest they usually look very similar. Actually, you will have the same situation in the neighbouring Slovakia, where some of the churches are, again, inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage while others do not. Even if they look great as well, just like this church of Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary in Hraničné. We need to assume that UNESCO knows it best.

I hope that you have enjoyed this trip. But we are not yet done with wooden temples in Southern Poland. Watch out for our trip next week.

Saturday, 19 March 2016


We have visited recently Piwniczna-Zdrój. Today I will take you to yet another health spa town in the South of Poland - Krynica-Zdrój.

Krynica was founded in the middle of the sixteenth century but you will not find there any building that will be that old. The oldest buildings you can see were built in the nineteenth century.

The nicest is probably the Old Pump Room.

Next to it, you will find a concert hall, dedicated to the most famous Polish tenor of all times, Jan Kiepura. Every year Krynica welcomes the European Jan Kiepura Festival. Its artistic programme consists of opera and operetta performances, symphonic concerts, ballet and theatrical spectacles, proms, and presentations of films featuring Jan Kiepura.

You have correctly guessed that, like in Piwniczna-Zdrój, the Old Pump Room has a younger sister called New Pump Room. And just like in Piwniczna, the is the ugly young sister.

Yes, yes, obviously, it is not the looks that counts and you should never judge a book by its cover. Inside, the New Pump Room turns out to be filled with exotic plants.

Some of them are really high.

The health waters are distributed here.

Unlike in Piwniczna you need to pay for them. But at least you can chose between a few types with different features.

The most famous is probably Zuber, helping patients with gastric problems. You really need to try this one. Though I doubt if you can really have a second sip. It has the most horrible smell of rotten eggs that I was ever confronted with.

Krynica houses every year thousands of visitors who come here to cure their diseases with the health waters. Many of them stay in the main building of the health spa.

Others live in one of many smaller and bigger hotels and B&Bs.

That way they can enjoy every day a refreshing walk through the town. Crossing the Kryniczanka brook ...

... or going up the hill to the park.

In between the woods you can find a little jewel.

This is the church of Transfiguration, built in 1864.

I hope that you have enjoyed this visit to Krynica-Zdrój. I propose that instead of souvenirs you buy a pack of health waters that you will be able to enjoy when you are back home.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Nowy Sącz

Nowy Sącz is a town in the South of Poland. It was founded in 1292, which means it is one of the oldest towns in the Małopolska region. It used to be a royal city, which means that it belonged to the king and not to a noble family or a bishop.

Nowy Sącz is located at the intersection of three rivers - Dunajec, Poprad and Kamienica. The hill between them has obviously a great strategic significance.

King Kazimierz the Great, the one who has founded the Jewish district in Kraków, has ordered for a castle to be built there. In this castle Władysław Jagiełło and his brother Witold were preparing the startegy for the Battle of Grunwald.Today only a few walls remain from the castle that was almost entirely destroyed in 1945.

Nowadays, the heart of the town is of course on the Market Square, surrounded by many nice residential buildings.

In the middle you will find the  Town Hal, built at the end of the nineeenth century.

The tall building in the back is the basilica of Saint Margaret.

It was built in thirteenth and fourteenth centirues, in the gothic style.

Let's enter inside.

The basilica has two main treasures. The first one are polichromes, being a special type of colourful paintings. They are believed to be painted in 1360. Unfortunately only a part of them remained as over time they were covered with white paint.

The second treasure is the painting in the main altar, representing the Transfiguration of Jesus.

The painting is believed to bring miracles. Therefore, you can see next to it many proofs of gratitude.

If you want to see the basilica of Saint Margret closer then I recommend that you take a virtual tour inside. Obviously this is not the only church in town. Just next to it you can see the church of the Jesuit order, devoted to the Holy Spirit.

Also here you can have a virtual walk inside. I will only show you the main altar now.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a longer period surely remember that a hundred years ago Poland was a melting pot for many cultures and religions. You will not be then surprised to find in Nowy Sącz also a protestant church.

And yes, there is a synagogue as well! It is no longer used for religious services however.

In fact durign World War II the German Nazis organised in Nowy Sącz a ghetto. The border line was going close to the Protestant church.

Most of the jewish citizens of Nowy Sącz were murdered during the war.

Now I propose that we go and rest a bit. Let's take the Jagiellońska street. You can walk freely, it is a pedestrian lane.

It is bordered by nice residential buidings.

We will just step a tiny bit on the left to see the church of Saint Kazimierz, the son of one of the Polish kings.

Just next to it you will see a bulding that used to be the nest of the oldest youth organisation in Poland - the gymnastic society Sokół (falcon). The building has been recently refurbished and houses today a culture center.

Finally, we arrive to our last destination. The Planty park.

We can walk through the nice lanes or sit on a bench and listen to the fountain.

Those who are not tired yet can always take a little dance with these nice young people from the royal city of Nowy Sącz.