Trips / Poland / Kazimierz Dolny

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Welcome to Kazimierz Dolny

Kazimierz Dolny

Situated on the bank of the Vistula River, is one of the most charming quaint towns in Poland. Once a royal town and one of the major trade ports during the Golden Age, today the town a real treasure chest filled with such pearls as the impressive renaissance architecture, picturesque wooden villas, archways, and porches. The unique landscape of the Lesser Poland Gorge of the Vistula adds even more appeal to the place. The hills alongside the Vistula valley intersected by a dense loess ravine network and covered with woods and orchards are to be found nowhere else. The atmosphere of the past, the time which has fossilized in the white ivy-grown stones, traces of the Jewish „sztetl Kuzmir", traditions of the artists' colony all add magic and mystery to the place, which has the power to attract and enthral its visitors. Kazimierz Dolny has the status of the monument of history granted by the President of the Republic of Poland.

History of the town

The beginnings of Kazimierz Dolny date back to the Middle Ages. Already in the 11th century there was a settlement here called "Wietrzna Góra" (eng. the Windy Mountain). In 1181, the settlement was given to the Norbertine Sisters by Prince Casimir II the Just. The Norbertines changed the name of the settlement to Kazimierz in honour of their benefactor. Since the end of the 13th century, Kazimierz was on the main trade routes linking Ruthenia with Silesia and Pomerania, which greatly contributed to its development. Owing to the trade, new fortunes came to existence in the town and a couple of magnificent buildings were erected. After the "Golden period" (the 16th and the first half of the 17th century), a series of devastating wars came: the Swedish Deluge, military invasion from the East, and the Great Northern War (beginnings of the 18th century). Partitions and the separation of Gdańsk from the territory of Poland brought an end to the prosperous trade town. Its beautiful location, however, and natural resources have turned Kazimierz into an increasingly popular summer resort whose beginnings date back to the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, a new epoch began for the town. Kazimierz entered the age of art then, becoming a favourite painting resort, home to the artists' colony associated mainly with professor Pruszkowski who gathered young painter artists around him. After the war, the town revived mainly as an art and tourist centre. Landscape painters would come back, and Maria and Jerzy Kuncewicz permanently settled here. National festivals were first held at that time, such as the National Festival of Folk Bands and Singers, film festival, organ summer concerts, festival of Jewish culture, continuing to the present day.

Local legends

About King Casimir III the Great and Esterka – a tale about love of our king to a beautiful Jewish girl, Esterka. They fell in love with each other at first sight. To protect her peace and privacy, the king constructed a castle for Esterka in the near-by Bochotnica. The legend tells about long, underground corridors leading from the Kazimierz castle to the castle in Bochotnica so that the lovers could hide from the regards of the populace.

Legend about the rooster

The legend about the rooster talks about a proud and cheeky Kazimierz rooster which has contributed to the banishing of the devil from Kazimierz. The devil became much interested in the Kazimierz roosters, especially the black ones. Almost all of them fell prey to him. The last cock which survived, however, managed to successfully hide from the devil's eyes. The Franciscan Reformer Fathers immediately came to his rescue and blessed his den. When the devil returned after a long search, he got scared of the holy water and ran away. As for the rooster, he was free to re-establish his family.

Casimir the Great arriving to the House of his Mistress Esterka
Casimir the Great arriving to the House of his Mistress Esterka

Historical sites and places of interest

St. John the Baptist and St. Bartholomew, the Apostle Parish Church St. Anna's Hospital Church Monastery of the Franciscan Reformer Fathers Synagogue Castle The look-out Tower Former hospital – shelter for the elderly and the disabled Bath house – commonly referred to as the Old Bath House Butcher's stalls St. Christopher and St. Nicolas Tenement Houses Jewish cemetery Parish cemetery dedicated to St. John Town wells The house of Maria and Jerzy Kuncewicz The Celej Tenant House Grain granaries The Hill of Three Crosses The old cottage in 'Siedlisko Lubicz', Doly Street Kazimierz Dolny map

  1. St. John the Baptist and St. Bartholomew, the Apostle Parish Church
  2. St. Anna's Hospital Church
  3. Monastery of the Franciscan Reformer Fathers
  4. Synagogue
  5. Castle
  6. The look-out Tower
  7. Former hospital – shelter for the elderly and the disabled
  8. Bath house – commonly referred to as the Old Bath House
  9. Butcher's stalls
  10. St. Christopher and St. Nicolas Tenement Houses
  11. Jewish cemetery
  12. Parish cemetery dedicated to St. John
  13. Town wells
  14. The house of Maria and Jerzy Kuncewicz
  15. The Celej Tenant House
  16. Grain granaries
  17. The Hill of Three Crosses
  18. The old cottage in 'Siedlisko Lubicz', Doły Street

St. John the Baptist and St. Bartholomew, the Apostle Parish Church

The oldest of three sanctuaries in Kazimierz Dolny (the parish existed here already in 1325) was erected in place of the original roman-gothic temple. Its beginnings date back to 1325, when the parish was first established. The sanctuary was built by Jakub Balin in the so called Lublin renaissance style (the last reconstruction took place during the years 1610-1613). Among other, the oldest organ in Poland from 1620, cordwains (gold leathers), renaissance tombstones, as well as choir stalls can be found inside the church (the stalls are in the presbyterium).

Apostle Parish Church
Apostle Parish Church
St. Anna's Hospital Church
St. Anna's Hospital Church

St. Anna's Hospital Church

In the place of the present church, there used to be another building, the Holy Spirit church or chapel, mentioned already in 1530. The sanctuary in its present form was consecrated in 1671. The church is an example of the so called Lublin renaissance. The church was built of stone during the years 1649-1670. The front and rear facades are capped with renaissance gables, resembling the front gable of the parish church "Fara", ornamented with pilasters and niches. Under the presbytery, there are vaults containing coffins and human remains.

Monastery of the Franciscan Reformer Fathers

The church was founded by Mikołaj Przybyło on the Presbyterian Mountain during the years 1589-1591. The Franciscans Reformers Brothers were first invited to settle in Kazimierz at the turn of the years of 1627 and 1628. They added a monastery to the church (enlarged during the years 1664-1668), expanded the sanctuary and surrounded the whole area by a high-rising wall. 65-step, solid oak wood, roof-covered stairs (dating from the end of the 17th century) lead to the church entrance. In the main alter there is a painting depicting Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary from 1600, which has been worshiped as graceful for centuries. During World War II, the monastery was occupied by the Gestapo with its basement turned into a prison.

Synagogue

The synagogue, called "the great", was erected in the 18th century in the same location where the original synagogue from the 16th century had been (destroyed by fire). It has a beautiful, shingle covered, broken gable roof, the so-called "Polish roof". The interior of the synagogue was ornamented with rich polychrome on the walls and ceiling. The building was destroyed in World War II, to be reconstructed in the 1950s of the 20th century. It was dedicated to a cinema theatre "Wisła" which was in operation until 2003. Today, the prayer room houses a permanent museum-like exhibition.

Synagogue
Synagogue
Castle
Castle

Castle

The Kazimierz castle was founded in cruda radice (i.e. on previously undeveloped site) at the beginning of the second half of the 14th century. The original castle was made of stone walls reaching 7m in height, with a quadrangular tower in the corner. The walls surrounding a spacious, irregularly shaped courtyard, are closed on the southern side by a onelevel residential building, the so-called Major House. The castle slowly expanded in the following centuries, especially its residential part (i.e. the above mentioned Major House). The Swedish Deluge, as well as the devastating fire in 1657, caused the destruction of the castle. From the 18th century onwards, the castle gradually stepped into decline. In 1809 the Austrians used powder to blow up the Western Tower in order to prevent it from collapse.

The look-out Tower

Stone, cylindrical building, commonly referred to as the tower. One of the oldest concrete defense constructions in Poland. Erected at the end of the 13th century of the local stone – lime stone. It was founded on a circular concept of 10 m in diameter. Its walls are up to 4 m thick in the lower sections and reach up to 20 m in height. Because of its typically defense character and the strategic location, it used to fulfill a function of a watch-out tower, protecting the Vistula crossing – important transport route, as well as the point where toll charges were collected.

Former hospital – shelter for the elderly and the disabled

The hospital was founded in the first half of the 16th century and modernized during the years 1626-1635 thanks to a donation made by Bartosz Celej. The beautiful mannerist gable which also dates back to those years was destroyed during World War II and restored later. Today, the building houses the Kazimierz Centre for Culture, Promotion, and Tourism.

Bath house – commonly referred to as the Old Bath House

A bath and disinsection institution was erected by the Central Special Commissioner's Office for Epidemic Control in 1921. This name was given to a bath house designed by one of the most renowned Polish architects – Jan Koszyc-Witkiewicz. The building has a harmonious exterior shell stemming from the old Polish palaces and can be included among the most beautiful sites in Kazimierz. Today, the building houses the Polish Filmmakers Association retreat as well as a restaurant.

Old Bath House
Old Bath House
Maly Rynek
Maly Rynek

Butcher's stalls

The current building comes from the beginning of the 19th century (renovated following WW II). Former (kosher) butcher's stalls existed here already in the 16th and 17th century. The building is located in the centre of the Small Marketplace, previously called the Market Square, where people from the town traded for centuries. It was situated in the very centre of the "district", whose residents were mostly Jewish.

St. Christopher and St. Nicolas Tenement Houses

St. Christopher and St. Nicolas Tenement Houses are among the most famous renaissance town houses in Poland. Their owners - Mikołaj and Krzysztof Przybyła brothers decorated the facades with images of their respective patron saints, hence the names. The tenant houses were erected in 1615 and they both have the same layout of facades: the first floor with three arcades and the upper floor with three windows. The facades are richly ornamented in stucco with Christian and mythological motifs, as well as animal and floral themes. The tenant houses are crowned with some of the most beautiful renaissance high attics in Poland.

Tenement houses
Tenement houses
Jewish cemetery
Jewish cemetery

Jewish cemetery

The first Jewish cemetery was established in Kazimierz Dolny in Lubelska street, presumably at the time when the Jewish commune was formed in the town. The cemetery was devastated by the Germans already at the beginning of World War II. The other cemetery, established in 1851 in Czerniawy Street, was destroyed in similar circumstances, with its tombstones used for road surfaces. In the 1980s, the tombstones were recovered from under the ground and turned into a monument referring to the Wailing Wall in Jerulasem. The monument encrusted with fragments of tombstones is split in the middle, which is to symbolize the tragic fate of the Polish and Kazimierz Jews.

Parish cemetery dedicated to St. John

A beautiful necropolis consecrated in 1869, situated on a hill slope. In 1924, the cemetery was expanded by its new part. A deep gorge separates the two parts, spanned by an arcade bridge designed by Karol Siciński. The cemetery is the place of rest of many personages significant for the town, such as: Tadeusz Feliks Tyszkiewicz, Tadeusz Ulanowski, rev. Andrzej Kamiński, the Berens family, Antoni Michalak, Maria and Jerzy Kuncewiczowie, Karol Siciński, Cezary Sarzyński or Józef Miłosz.

Town wells

There are four wells in Kazimierz, the best known of which is the one situated in the very middle of the market square. It has a tradition lasting more than 100 years and used to be a town spring. It took its final shape in 1913. An outstanding Polish architect, Jan Koszyc-Witkiewicz, the "author" of the Kazimierz Bath House, designed its wooden casing and the roofing with the characteristic wooden ornament on the roof ridge. Three other wells are in Krakowska Street, in Lubelska Street, and in the north-east corner of the market square.

The house of Maria and Jerzy Kuncewicz

The villa "Pod Wiewiórka" (The Squirrel's Villa), the seat of the house of Maria and Jerzy Kuncewicz, was erected in 1936. It was designed by Karol Siciński, an architect whose works shaped Kazimierz Dolny mostly in the post-war time. This monumental wooden villa of local limestone, with a shake roof, is ornamented in wood and surrounded by a large garden. The house belongs now to the Vistula Museum and provides venue for cultural events, especially those related to literature. The permanent exhibition consists of memorabilia of the life and work of Maria Kuncewiczowa, an accomplished Polish writer, and her husband Jerzy.

Kuncewicz house
Kuncewicz house
Celejowska house
Celejowska house

The Celej Tenant House

The Celej House belongs to the most valuable mannerist monuments in Poland. Erected in 1635, the Celej tenant house has a richly ornamented stucco elevation and a high roof parapet, considered one of the most beautiful in the country. The attic consists of three merlon-like parts with niches containing lifesize figures of John the Baptist, Christ the Redeemer, the Holy Virgin and St. Bartholomew. On the ground floor, the hallway vaults and two rooms can be found. Upstairs, there are four rooms with wooden ceilings. Today, the building houses one of the branches of the Vistula Museum – museum of the town history, a gallery of painting and graphics, as well as a room with a miniature model of the town as of 1910.

Grain granaries

Granaries are a special symbol of Kazimierz Dolny. At the beginning of the 17th century, there were around 60 granaries, but only 11 have been preserved until today. Those buildings were usually built of limestone. They would typically have two stories, very decorative gables designed after the parish church, sometimes with a front loggia. The oldest preserved granary is the Mikołaj Przybyła granary dating from 1651, which now houses the Museum of Nature. The newest one is the granary of the Kobiałka family in Krakowska Street. Hotels, restaurants and a youth hostel are located in the Kazimierz granaries.

The Hill of Three Crosses

First mentions of the Hill of Three Crosses come from the 16th century. Over the years, the crosses have been renovated or even reconstructed. Their symbolic meaning refers to commemorating the plagues in the beginning of the 18th century, as the inscriptions visible on the middle cross testify. The hill slopes are covered with xerothermic plants adopted for dry and hot environment and that is why the climb is only possible with signposted paths. The view from the top is breathtaking.

Hill of Three Crosses
Hill of Three Crosses
Loess ravine
Loess ravine

The old cottage in "Siedlisko Lubicz", Doły Street

The old cottage in "Siedlisko Lubicz", Doły Street, is one of the oldest huts in the Lublin region, dating back to the 18th century. It is a log house covered with a thatched roof. It underwent renovation during the years 1983-1988, was relocated within the surrounding land and placed on new foundations.

The Hill of Three Crosses in Parchatka

Over 200 years ago, thanks to Duchess Izabela Czartoryska, a retreat with a romantic garden was created in Parchatka village near Puławy. The three crosses made the surrounding landscape complete. Unfortunately, the original crosses have not been preserved. They were restored, however, at the initiative of the "Kazimierska Fara" Cultural Heritage Preservation Society, according to a design by professor Konrad KuczaKuczyński. It is one of the most interesting scenic viewpoints, overlooking the beautiful Vistula Valley.

Loess ravines

The loess ravines are one of the major attractions associated with Kazimierz Dolny. They have been created as a result of the loess being highly susceptible to soil erosion by water. Their density in the region exceeds 10km per 1 square km, which is one of the highest density rates of erosion gullies in Europe. The best known ravines are the Root Ravine, Plebanka, Małachowskiego and Norowy Dół.

The Bochotnica castle and Jan Oleśnicki's Chapel

This medieval, gothic castle was erected during the reign of King Casmir III the Great and used to be a defensive fortress. According to a local romantic legend, the fortress was to provide shelter to Esterka, the Jewish mistress of the King Casmir the Great. The castle is in ruin now, with solely remnants of its walls partially preserved. 200 m from the castle, in the direction of Kazimierz, remains of Jan Oleśnicki's tomb chapel can be found. The building is a very early example of mausoleum built for a secular person and the oldest one in the Lublin region.

Męćmierz

Męćmierz is a medieval village whose inhabitants used to work as fishers and lightermen. Up until now it is a living open-air museum. Unique wooden architecture, wooden or wicker fences add a unique atmosphere to the place. Some of the houses and barns are still covered with thatched roofs. In the very central place there is a shingle-covered well, where water can be pumped. A historical post mill draws our attention, as well as a rustic log cottage fastened together at the corners in a "fishtail" manner. It was moved here from Młynki village. A beautiful view over the Vistula valley and the nature reserve of Cow Island (Krowia Wyspa) can be admired from the scenic point on Albrechtówka Hill.

Wojciechów

Wojciechów is situated west of Lublin, a couple of kilometers away from Nałęczów. The place is famous for the annual blacksmithing workshops held here, as well as meetings of blacksmiths from the whole of Poland. In the very centre of Wojciechów there is the Arian Tower from the 16th century, which houses the Museum of Blacksmithing and the Museum of the region. A mini open-air museum "Wojciechowsko Zagroda" can also be visited here.

Nałęczów

The only health resort in Poland exclusively for circulatory disorders. Park Zdrojowy with a pond and the island of love is located in the centre of Nałęczów. The 18-century Małachowski Palace can be found in the park, as well as the historical sanatoriums, among other the Old Baths. Healing properties of the Nałęczów waters are known in the whole of Poland, all of which can be tasted in the Dom Zdrojowy. Numerous historical, wooden and brick villas add charm to the place which used to be visited by Polish prominent writers and poets, such as Sienkiewicz, B. Prus, S. Źeromski, S. Witkiewicz, J. Lechoń, Ew. Szelburg-Zarembina, K. Iłłakowiczówna, to mention but a few.

Janowiec

A village situated on the other bank of the Vistula river. In 1537, it was located on the grounds of the village of Serokomla and developed especially well in the times of the Republic of Nobles. Its rapid development was possible thanks to one of the largest Polish defense castles, the Vistula crossing and the Janowiec parish with the beautiful St. Stanislaus and St. Margaret Church. A church-hospital, synaguogue, town hall and a brick brewery building could also be found in this little town. The main landmark of Janowiec is the castle dating back to the beginnings of the 16th century, former seat of Polish noble families of Firlej, Tarłowie and Lubomirscy. It was inhabited until the end of the 18th century. Over the following two centuries it gradually went into decline. In 1975 it was acquired by the present Vistula Museum with one of its branches established here. In the area surrounding the castle a manor house from Moniaki can be found, dating back to the second half of the 18th century (exposition of interiors), a granary from Podlodów (ethnographic exhibition), a barn from Wylagi, a carriage house with quincha from Kurów, as well as a house from Puławy (19th / first half of the 20th century).

Puławy

According to historical sources, it was a fishers village in the end of the 15th century, and crossing point on the Vistula River. From 1731 Puławy remained in the hands of the Czartoryski family for the next 100 years. At the turn of the 18th and the 19th centuries, a cultural and political centre was created here, referred to as "Polish Athens" which was able to compete with the capital. That was possible thanks to Duchess Izabela Czartoryska, the founder of the first museum in Poland. Puławy is full of historical sites, most of which are located in the palace and park complex. The most important landmarks are the Czartoryski Palace, the Temple of the Sybil - built during the years 1798-1801, modeled after the antique „Temple of Vesta" at Tivoli, Italy - as well as the Gothic House from 1809.


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