Travel Love Poland Magazine - December 2019

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DECEMBER – FEBRUARY 2020 | VOL 1 | ISSUE 10 ISSN 2515-8503


through the lens

Winter charm When there are clouds in Orawsko-Nowotarska Valley between Babia Góra and the Tatra Mountains, standing above the clouds, we feel as if the Tatra Mountains were an island on the sea. At dawn, it looks very beautiful. Ł ukasz Sowi ń ski


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from the editor

Dear Readers, Winter is probably the most beautiful in the Polish mountains. Hence, on this occasion, we invite you for several expeditions to the mountainous corners of Poland. First, we will visit the Bieszczady Mountains and talk to probably the most famous forester in Poland – Kazimierz Nóżka. Our journeys would not be complete without the Tatra Mountains – this time in a slightly extreme version – namely climbing. Stanislaw Magiera will tell about it. As you probably know, we do not want to focus only on the best-known corners of Poland, therefore we also invite you to the slightly mysterious Low Beskids and Gorce where we will be guided around by Krystian Kiwacz. And if you want to learn a bit more about our beautiful cover – read the story of Łukasz Sowiński, already familiar to you, about Babia Góra. We also invite you to the mysterious and beautiful Sowie Mountains, courtesy of Telewizja Sudecka and to get to know Krynica-Zdrój as part of our cooperation with the Meet the Beskid Sadecki Project. The pictures were prepared for us by Konrad Rogoziński. The whole of the Mountain expeditions will be summed up in a slightly less typical way by Katarzyna Skóra, taking you into the world of folk beliefs from the Low Beskids region. It will be a chilling tale – not just because of the winter temperature. I recommend it. As usual, the magazine cannot miss at least short visits to beautiful Polish cities. This time we will come over to Gdańsk for a moment to visit Artus Court and knock around to Wrocław again – this time Anna Adamska will talk about the famous lighthouse keeper and preparations for the Christmas Market. One of our biggest passions is Polish tradition. So, let's get to know in detail the work on the preparation of the traditional Kraków nativity scene. Jakub Zawadziński will tell us about it. And then, feel free to visit the Żywiec Beskids to experience and learn the Christmas and New Year traditions of Żywiec Forefathers' Eve. This phenomenon is unique, even on a national scale. Because December is the Christmas period, let's carol with us and get to know the traditions connected with the Carolers. Our Christmas section complements the gallery of works by Kamila Rosińska, showing the magic of Christmas in beautiful staging. There will also be something for children, you can read with them the legend of Sir Twardowski. I still remember it from my childhood. Beautiful. Big thanks to the authors of the photos for their cooperation. artur tomasz tureczek Happy Christmas to all of You. Editor-in-Chief Travel.LovePoland

Contributors to this issue: Anna Adamska, Ania Olesińska, Kamila Rosińska, Katarzyna Skóra, Bernadett Urbanovics, Max Danilevsky, Daniel Franek, Bartłomiej Jurecki, Krystian Kiwacz, Stanisław Magiera, Kazimierz Nóżka, Adam Pachura (Telewizja Sudecka), Przemysław Sękowski, Łukasz Sowiński, Konrad Rogoziński, Jakub Zawadziński. Tatra Mountains photos thanks to: Rafał Raczyński, Leszek Kłyś, Paweł Pośpiech, Tomasz Wróblewski, Grzegorz Zielski. Happy Christmas to all of you. As always a big thanks to Kasia Śpiewankiewicz graphic editor for the support. Thank You. If you would like to support or cooperate with our magazine please contact us via:

TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND online magazine published by love Poland ltd Registered office address: 178 Mitcham Road, London, England, SW17 9NJ Company number 10956488 Company registered in England and Wales. British Library ISSN 2515-8503 Copyrights by love Poland ltd and/ or authors of photographs and texts as indicated. All photographs and texts are published under the exclusive permission granted to travel.lovePoland Magazine by their authors. Please do not copy or publish without authorisation. WWW.LOVEPOLAND.ORG


T R A V E L . L O V E P O L A N D



CONTENTS Bieszczady: Kazimierz Nóżka 0 5

Making Christmas Crib: Jakub Zawadziński 1 2

Beskid Niski and Gorce: Krystian Kiwacz 3 0

Babia Góra: Łukasz Sowiński 7 2

Żywiec Forefathers' Eve: Daniel Franek 9 4

20 26 50 52 58 66 84 107 111 113 123 125

Artus Court: Gdańsk Midnight lantern Wrocław: Anna Adamska Vampyres of Beskid Niski: Katarzyna Skóra To the top of the Tatra: Stanisław Magiera Tokarnia: Przemysław Sękowski Krynica-Zdrój: Konrad Rogoziński The Owl Mountains: Telewizja Sudecka Carol Singers A. Olesińska, Ł. Sowiński Saint Nicholas and Christmas gifts Art Gallery for Christmas: Kamila Rosińska The legend of Sir Twardowski (for kids) Sing with us

photo on the front cover: Babia Góra: Łukasz Sowiński

narrated by Kazimierz Nóżka

Brown bear / Ursus arctos. Bieszczady Mountains. By Szymon Bartosz,



DOES THE FOREST HAVE A SOUL? Interview with Kazimierz Nóżka, a forester from the Bieszczady Mountains.

Are you sure you want to leave everything and head out to the Bieszczady? – such a question can be found on the cover of the book by Kazimierz Nóżka, Marcin Scelina and Maciej Kozłowski entitled 'Bieszczady'. For someone who may not know the history of Bieszczady very well, and especially for those who come to this corner of Poland from far away, this question may seem a bit surprising. Not everyone is aware that this part of Poland, somewhat wild and sometimes even forgotten, was a place of "escape" for many of those who wanted to change their lives, run away from civilization and everyday hustle. It was also a place not always associated with romantic escapes. Bieszczady might provide a shelter not only for those who wanted to commune with nature but also those who would prefer the world forget about them, as their lives were not always a reason to be proud of. On the occasion of the promotion of 'Bieszczady' book, we invite you, together with Kazimierz Nóżka, a forester in the forestry district of Polanki in the Bieszczady Mountains, for a small trip to the Bieszczady forests, nooks and crannies.

TLP: I would like to start our conversation with a fairly general question, which I hope will be a good introduction to further conversation – namely: Does the forest have a soul? What is this soul like? What does your contact with it look like?

Kazimierz Nóżka, a forester from Polanki in Podkarpackie voivodeship.


KN: The forest is a powerful, dynamic organism full of various interesting elements. From microscopic creatures to dignified bison or dangerous bears... from plants invisible to the naked eye, to magnificent firs, beech trees and pines... the forest consists of cliffs, ravines and streams, the forest includes also rocks and mossy trunks of old trees. The forest means also people working in it and using it in different ways. A forest without a soul does not exist as, after all, everything that has the germ of life has a soul. The soul with the gifts we have from the forest permeates our lives... everything that comes from wood, everything that has forest flavours and aromas, everything nice that we associate with the forest has such a kind of soul. If you have such a constant contact with the forest as I have had for decades, then this soul of the forest nay be found in the heart of a man, it is always at the fingertips. You just have to move slower while walking in the forest and allow yourself for a moment of delight with everything that surrounds you there and you will hear the quiet sighs of the forest soul. (smile)

TLP: You have been connected with Bieszczady for many years (probably 40?) Do you remember how you got there? I don't think it was that difficult, as you come from the this region. What was your way to stay in the solitude of the Bieszczady? And what did your path to forestry look like? KN: I didn't get to Bieszczady... I was born in Bieszczady. Here, in the land of I took my first awkward steps. Here I spent my happy childhood under the watchful eye of a caring mother and older siblings. Dad was more often in the woods than at home... it was on the shoulders of my mother and older brothers to run a fairly large farm in these difficult mountain conditions. My future was shaped in such conditions. Without any remarkable walks through the woods with Dad the forester, without great delight the wild nature that surrounded us from everywhere. Work on the farm and learning marked my everyday routine of the primary school period. And then my father wanted me to become a forester. His wish came true and it is something for what I am grateful. For 40 years I have been a forester in the most wonderful region of the world... here, where the paths of bears and bison, deer and wolves, roes and lynx cross. Here, in those forests, where you can smell bear's garlic in spring, where you can taste the fruits of wild cherries in summer, where you may lack proper words

in autumn to describe the colours of the surrounding hills, where dignified firs dress up in snow hats in the winter... here I work, here other people work hard, earning money to support their families, the firewood and the wood for many other necessary purposes come from here. Here is my place... here is my little homeland. TLP: What is 'Bieszczady' book like? The title itself (as well as the subtitle: "before you go to the Bieszczady Mountains") may somewhat suggest that this is an introduction, a guide to the things to do and how to prepare for the Bieszczady expedition. However, it is probably not a travel guide, is it? You write: We are taking you to the real Bieszczady. Both to those that are the object of our dreams of a green enclave and to a place that we had no idea about." So what is this book, both for you and for the potential reader? KN: The book "Before you go to the Bieszczady Mountains" is not another tourist guide around the Bieszczady land. It is rather the story of two ordinary foresters, inscribed in the space-time of Bieszczady, from the 1960s to the present. TLP: You are a forester and I would like you to tell about Bieszczady from this perspective. What is the meaning of nature, the existence of nature reserves, the significance of human care in this respect. Does the forest need a man to exist? What special things do the Bieszczady forests, vast pastures, 'sluggish domes of mountain peaks' have to offer to those seeking contact with nature? KN: Of course, the forest does not need a man to exist and last forever. It is a man who needs the forest to be able to use a renewable raw material – wood. It is important to take advantage of this good which is the forest with the greatest prudence; the foresters who are called to do so should act responsibly and in accordance with the state of forestry art! We can and we have to protect forests. There are various forms of this protection: national parks, nature reserves are the most important forms... but every forester in the forestry district he administers has the ability to affect the protection of interesting areas by, for example, selecting xylobiont refuges or protecting zones for valuable species. The Bieszczady forests like no other provide exceptional experiences to those who are looking for close contact with nature... just enter the space of beech forests in spring, when beeches get dressed in delicate green... it is enough to go crazy with happiness (smile). TLP: We talk about the Bieszczady Mountains during the quite specific season of the year, which is winter. It may seem that for the life of the forest and its inhabitants it is a dormant period and nothing special can be observed then.

Bears are actually sleeping. However, the winter forest is probably not completely "empty" and "dormant?" Where in your district shall we go to in winter to encounter traces of nature's life in its most interesting instances, also for the tourist? KN: Winter... in nature it is time of latency. Deciduous trees without leaves, larches devoid of their delicate needles... everything is grey until the snow falls. The white of the snow changes the face of the forest... the dark crowns of firs contrast strongly with the white of the beech slopes... in the interior of over 100 year old firs and beeches one may encounter bears' lairs... the packs of wolves track deer swarms to hunt effectively at the right moment... the lynx follows the roe deer steps, hoping to surprise them this time. Bison in winter herds eat evergreen blackberry leaves, you may hear foraging woodpeckers and black soot crows roaming the skies in search of leftovers from wolf feasts... on white cracks of frozen rivers and streams we will meet otters. And duckers during their morning meal... we can also meet, although nowadays it is pretty rare, a smoking retort which transforms wood into charcoal. TLP: Kazimierz, 'Bieszczady' is not your first book. Your first book entitled "The bear from Baligród and other stories of Kazimierz Nóżka" has brought you some recognizability. You've probably seen all the Bieszczady bears, what's more, you've photographed them all. I only had the opportunity to meet them twice. Both occasions were in the Tatras, and on the second one, in the Roztoka Valley, I had to evacuate by escaping to the shelter. What are your encounters with bears? Is it a different experience for someone who knows them well enough? KN: As a matter of fact, I had to work in forestry, where there are quite a lot of these bears. So I could do nothing but learn to live with them. We all know very well that they are very dangerous animals. You ought to have knowledge of how to behave in such an area where you are likely to meet a bear, eyeball to eyeball. I think that all these several years of sharing this forest, we understand each other perfectly. I know how to get out of their way, where they feed most often, where they rest, etc. Of course, this is my confidential information; it is not publicly available to all the people visiting the area. We warn people not to venture into intimate forest refuges, to stay close to trails and roads for their safety. A lot of situations and different experiences with bears in the background were described in the book "The Bear from Baligród and other stories of Kazimierz Nóżka" which I recommend (smile again). 07 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

on photo: Lynx cub

TLP: Finally, I would like to ask for auto advertisement of your Facebook page: “Nadleśnictwo Baligród”[Baligród Forest District]. You and Mr. Marcin Scelina have probably become the most recognizable foresters in Poland thanks to, among others, the Baligród Forest District website. From the book 'Bieszczady' I know that you have never taken this project very seriously (maybe I should add: from a 'marketing' point of view), but the fact is that you devote much of your time to posting information, photos and videos on this profile. What does this form of communication mean for you? What message do you want to send to the recipients? KN: The Baligród Forest District page on Facebook is already several years old. This is the original idea of Marcin Scelina, an outstanding botanist. He once asked me to cooperate with him, and that's how we've been running it for six years. A lot of fans, now it is about 150 thousand followers – observe us constantly. We must admit that for us this is a large audience. We try to be authentic in conveying our content, we bypass the political threads and show what we have every day – our work, we try to smuggle a lot of knowledge about natural topics... this site has a human face... or rather faces and I think it gives it the popularity because the fans see that they deal, in fact, with real people, not with something hidden behind a nice picture.


on photo: Red deer (Cervus elaphus). Red stags attacked by wisents. Bieszczady Mountains. By Szymon Bartosz



Bieszczady National Park info: Bieszczady National Park visit:


In accordance with Polish legislation, the highest form of nature conservation is that of a natural park. This protects nature’'s resources and the processes of large areas representing outstanding features of nature where it is relatively intact. Among the Polish mountain national parks, the Bieszczady National Park is the only one which protects the nature of the Eastern Carpathians. In the rating of the Polish national parks (Denisiuk et al. 1991), the Bieszczady National Park has an extremely high score and ranks third only to the Tatra National Park and the Pieniny National Park. It is the outstanding natural attractions which placed the Bieszczady National Park in a group of several Polish parks well-known outside Poland and is listed the world over as among the most interesting national parks in Europe. This status of international tourist attraction stems most of all from the presence of natural ecosystems of the Carpathian primeval forest with sizeable populations of large herbivorous and carnivorous mammals as well as birds-of-prey. Another unique feature is the subalpine meadow zone with interesting East-Carpathian plants and sites of occurrence of rare alpine invertebrate species. These valuable attractions of the Bieszczady park and the two landscape parks surrounding it decided that the International Reserve of Biosphere “Eastern Carpathians” should be established in the Bieszczady mountains. 10 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

Bieszczady National Park is one of the country's largest national parks. It encompasses an area of nearly 300 square kilometres in the south-eastern region of Podkarpackie Voivodeship. In 1992, the BNP (Bieszczady National Park) became a part of the "East Carpathian" International Biosphere Reserve, the first UNESCO reserve to be located in three countries. The Polish portion of this reserve is complemented by sections in Ukraine and Slovakia. The park contains the highest sections of the Polish fragment of the East Carpathians, together with their largest attraction: unique mountain pastures located above the tree line. The highest peak in the Polish part of the Bieszczady range is Tarnica, located at 1346 m.a.s.l. The park's riches include the large predators that inhabit it, including wolves and lynxes. Bears can also be spotted here, and according to WWF statistics around 80 of them live in the Bieszczady range. Another of the park's attractions is its growing herd of bison, at present numbering around 280 members. This is the second-largest collection of wild bison in Poland and thus in the world. A large population of deer and stags live here as well, as do over 140 species of birds. The park also hosts a Hucul horse farm. A unique feature of the BNP (Bieszczady National Park) national park are the numerous traces of settlements from before the Second World War.

Some rules for visiting the Bieszczady National Park for educational and touristic purposes:

“The expansive, gentle and still wild mountains provide shelter to bears, wolves and bison. The beautiful landscapes and deep forest" mor e details at :

Grey wolf (Canis lupus) in the river. Bieszczady Mountains. PolandBy Szymon Bartosz

In the area of the Bieszczady National Park, there is a network of marked hiking trails, natural and historical-nature paths and walking paths that are open to the public. Due to the safety of visitors and nature protection, walking along the trails in the area of the National Park is allowed only from dawn till dusk. Admission to tourist trails and to the area of nature paths, between April 13 and November 17, is payable and tickets can be purchased in information and cash points. The amount of fees is specified in the price list. The ticket is valid for the whole day. It is forbidden to take dogs to tourist trails and nature trails, with the exception of sections running along public roads. People with disabilities have the right to move along the trails and paths along with a specially marked assistance dog. Horseback tourism is permitted on specially marked trails for horse riding.

Cycling in the park is allowed on public roads and (after purchasing the admission fee on the trail) on properly marked routes in the valley of the upper San. Skiing is allowed on marked sections of hiking trails and on: walking routes around Wetlina; walking routes in Wołosate (after their launch), walking routes in the Tarnawa protection area (after their launch). Camping is allowed in the following designated places: Campsite in Bereżki, Camping Górna Wetlinka. For the use of the campsite, fees are charged, the amount of which is determined in the price list. Campfires are only allowed in places designated and adequately prepared by the BNP. Organizing tourist events, including rallies, in the area of the park is allowed only with the consent of the park director and on the terms agreed prior to the organization of the event. Due to the safety of the tourists, in the winter season, it is recommended to report the planned route at the GOPR rescue stations (Mountain Rescue Team). In the period from January 1 to April 13 and from November 17 to December 31, no admission fees for mountain trails and nature trails are charged. The employees of the Park Service and Park Guard officers are entitled to control persons in terms of following the regulations in force in the Park, including the control of admission fees and to impose fines. In the area of the Bieszczady National Park it is prohibited to: make loud noise; capturing or killing wild animals, collecting or destroying eggs, juveniles and animal developmental forms, disturbing vertebrate animals, collecting antlers, destroying burrows, nests, lairs and other animal shelters and their breeding places; catching fish and other aquatic organisms; destroying or deliberately damaging plants and fungi as well as harvesting wild plants and fungi or their parts; use, destruction, deliberate damage, pollution and alteration of natural objects, areas and resources, creations and elements of nature. 11 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

Photo by: Jakub Zawadziński

MAKING CHRISTMAS CRIB by: Jakub Zawadziński Photos by: Jakub Zawadziński and Max Danilevsky Facebook: Max Danilevsky Photography & Movies Instagram: Max Danilevsky,

The theme of the Krakow Crib (nativity scenes) was already present in our magazine. However, we didn't have the opportunity to talk to someone who actually makes, or rather creates them. We invite you to read the interview with Jakub Zawadziński. A creator and enthusiast of Kraków nativity scenes.


Jakub, you are still a young man, but as far as I know you have been dealing with cribs for a long time. Do you remember when your first crib was created and what was the stimulus for you to create it? A tradition, a kind of passion for the culture of Kraków? JZ: The topic of Kraków cribs has been present in my life and interests ever since I can remember. Although I come from a long line of Krakovians, I do not come from a family with crib traditions such those of my friend's Andrzejek Malik, who represents already the 5th generation of the Krakow Cribs' creators in his family.

“the profession is passed from father to son”

“Today's Nativity Scene is the result of a twohundredyear evolution of tradition”



This profession is passed from father to son; on the other hand, some of old and new masters were and they often still are self-taught, just like me. At the age of 7 I thought that the cribs were built by some engineers and professors in the comfort of some specialized laboratories (laughs). It wasn't until around 2008 that I received a wonderful book by Wiesław Barczewski (old crib master) with practical technical advice on how to make a crib from the beginning to the end, so after reading it I quickly built the first crib "prototype", 8-10 cm in size, a very simple construction that, unfortunately, due to my stupidity, was trampled by my classmates during a school break after I brought the raw construction to show at our art lesson. It was one of the traumatic memories of my childhood (laughs) so it wasn't until 2010 that I dared to build the same structure again and at the age of 14 I put up my first crib, it was probably at the 68th Krakow cribs competition. In the children's category I received a distinction for it, which made me even more passionate.

How did it start? As far as I could go back in my memory, my first earliest memories of my adventure with the cribs begin even before going to primary school, when as a few-year-old I was taken by my granddad to the crib exhibition. Once, I got an album from him with pictures of the cribs, I remember how I put the tracing paper on it and drew the shapes of the cribs from them, thinking that in this way I could get the effect as in the exhibition and photos from the album. The next very nice memory for me is the one connected with the event from my primary school, when during breakfast breaks between the lessons, I walked between my friends, collecting papers from aluminium and golden foil (an important material for building cribs), left after they unwrapped their candies, "because I would build a crib". Unfortunately, for a long time I did not know how to take up this handicraft, there are no schools anywhere to learn it.

TLP: From the layman's perspective, it would seem that nativity scenes and all kinds of handicrafts are rather a job for older, experienced artists. But it is probably not true, is it? Is the handicraft of nativity scenes still alive and does it have successors? JZ: In my opinion, it is enough to come to the Adam Mickiewicz monument on the first Thursday of December to find the answer (smile); I think I will answer this question in two ways – the tradition of creating Nativity Scenes is still alive and it is doing relatively well. There are about 40 creators of cribs who regularly, like me, create cribs for the competitions and to the private orders (not counting those who do not create cribs every year, or those who compete only occasionally).

Photo by: Jakub Zawadziński


Generally, most of the participants of the competition and most of creators are children and young people, which makes me very happy because I see lots of these young people every year with new works. However, let's look at it from a different angle – the number of cribs submitted in the competition over the last 80 years, since the beginning of the competition, ranged between 100 and 200, with the majority being refined works prepared mostly by adult masters who had been into the profession for at least several years. 13 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

TLP: We probably should have started our conversation from this question, but now it is probably a good moment as well – could you tell us what the Kraków Nativity Scene actually is? How would you describe it? What materials are cribs made of, what should they contain, what characteristic elements should a traditional Kraków crib have? And finally, are you especially proud of any of your works? What kind of crib was it? JZ: The Kraków Nativity Scene or Kraków Crib is a wonderful tradition dating back to the early nineteenth century, thanks to which you have the irresistible impression that the Baby Jesus was not born in the shabby Bethlehem Grotto, but somewhere under St. Mary's Church, among the Wawel towers and market houses where Lajkonik with all the city residents, angels, musicians, kings, etc. may worship him. This rather 'crazy' idea of such an unusual housing of the Christmas scene was born in the minds of craftsmen and builders from villages near Kraków, today's districts of Zwierzyniec or Krowodrza, bricklayers, carpenters, roofers, who, in the winter period, used to have less construction work year by year which caused their lower earnings during that period. In order to earn some extra money, lots of them, according to the Old Polish tradition, began to walk with groups of their journeymen with carols to rich bourgeois houses, staging the nativity performances in the cribs called Bethlehem creches, i.e. typical wooden sheds that we can see today in churches at Christmas. However, to gain more customers and beat numerous competitors, some began to build not ordinary wooden Christmas cribs, like the one in Bethlehem, but create them in the form of noble palaces, the architecture of which included the well-known monuments of Kraków like St. Mary's Church, Sigismund's chapel, etc., making the first primitive Kraków cribs which since them have begun to serve as a stage for Nativity plays in the form of a puppet theatre. Over the years, increasing competition between various groups of carollers and cribbers brought ever greater growth and evolution of the forms of the first Kraków cribs (in those days


they usually reached 1.5 to 3 meters in height), until Michał Ezenekier built the first fully defined and evolved Cracow Nativity Scene, today known as "Mother Nativity Scene", which, to this day, sets the traditional layout and schedule of the traditional Kraków Nativity Scene. It is a 3-meter high, twostorey building, symmetrical, with three towers, the middle with the tank and the star (supposedly inspired by the Sigismund's Chapel), while two side towers are the copies of the higher tower of St. Mary's Church, in Polish called 'Hejnalica'. The two floors have also their own names: the ground floor is the 'profanum', i.e. a place with a stage in the middle for playing nativity play with puppets, while the upper floor is the 'Sacrum' where the actual Christmas scene is located, right in the centre of the crib. I would like to mention that the basic and obvious condition for the Nativity Scene to be a Kraków Nativity Scene (of course, except for architecture) is a birth / adoration scene for the Baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph as the central element of it; without it there is simply no nativity scene. Returning to the tradition of Nativity and carol singing with great Kraków cribs. Well, the tradition was ended severely by World War I, after which the tradition got to the edge of decline and oblivion; the cribs stunted to small forms. They were made cheaply and unattractively as gifts for Christmas. In order to save the tradition, the later outstanding director of the Historical Museum of Kraków, Dr. Jerzy Dobrzycki, a great Kraków citizen, a lover of Kraków's history and traditions, organised in 1937 the first competition for the most beautiful Kraków crib. To his joy, over 80 people entered the competition with beautifully decorated cribs, no longer in the form of 3-meter theatres but their beautifully decorated smaller counterparts. The competition, interrupted by World War II, revived immediately after it, in 1945. After the war, the tradition of building cribs revived and has been alive till now, which may be evidenced by the last year's distinction with a unique and honourable entry on the UNESCO list of the intangible heritage of humanity. Today's Nativity Scene is the result of a twohundred-year evolution of tradition, it is a visually, technically and architecturally complex minimum three-tower and storey building, necessarily symmetrical, in the form of a castlepalace, composed only of historic Kraków buildings. There are no monuments from other cities, e.g. from Warsaw (Give my love to Warsaw); the crib is to be meticulously decorated, you can even say that it is encrusted like works of goldsmith's or jewellery art.

Photo by: Max Danilevsky Photography & Movies

When I was born in the mid-90s, in the total number of 180 cribs submitted to the competition, about 80 works were the cribs of grandmasters and masters as well as other great artists. They were beautifully refined architecture constructions, rich in details and made by adults. Unfortunately, since the end of the 90s and the beginning of 2000, about 20 of the most outstanding creators of nativity scenes who were already elderly people, like Mr. Paczyński, Sochacki, Dłużniewski, Głuch, Więcek, Borucki, Michalczyk, died, which was a very severe loss. Death of each of those outstanding masters whose works I admired from an early age is a great loss. Fortunately, in a few cases, their children and grandchildren took over the heirloom – in summary, the tradition keeps up well, but unfortunately more masters die than appear, so the only chance in the youth who, fortunately, eagerly create cribs, which gives confidence and hope that our tradition will be fine. I also hope that thanks to the entry onto the UNESCO list of the intangible heritage of humanity, we will soon have several new masters of this art.

Photos by: Max Danilevsky Photography & Movies

Of course, instead of real gold, pearls or diamonds, the material used here is 'staniol', i.e. coloured aluminium tinfoil, bead balls, coloured papers and tissue paper. The supporting structure, invisible to the viewer, is made of wood, plywood, cardboard, slats and paper nailed and glued with strong glues. For decorations, I personally do not use coloured plastics and haberdashery products that have become readily available in recent years. I stick to the tradition of making items myself with tinfoil. Today's cribs instead of the puppet theatre at the bottom, have figurines, which are set in motion mechanically, using electric motors. Colourful 'stained glass' made of tissue paper, formerly lit by candles, today is typically illuminated by bulbs and LEDs. In addition, apart from the architecture of Kraków and the multitude of decorative elements and architectural styles, there must be figurines in them, that is, as I mentioned above, in the central properly arranged part of the crib, you can say 'on the pedestal', there must be the Holy Family, and around it there should be figures from Kraków legends and traditions, i.e. Kościuszko, Polish kings, the Pope, etc. Nativity scenes are made in different sizes, from miniatures, housed in a nut shell, to several meters high. The largest in the world was built in 2010 by the Markowski family; their record still remains valid, this crib is exactly 5 meters and 1 cm high. Personally, I have always created miniature cribs and I have been continuing this for several years. On average, I make cribs between 12 cm and 30 cm high. I remember especially well and I like the most the smallest crib I made for the competition.

It was about 6 cm high and I made it in addition to the main crib, that was 25 cm high. It aroused considerable interest of the media and viewers because it was located on a teaspoon. I have a lot of similar, unusual ideas to fit a small crib on or in an object / item of everyday use, and in the coming years I will definitely do them as an addition to the main competition cribs. In addition to traditional-looking cribs, I remember the successful Wawel crib which was composed of elements of the royal castle. For example, this year I am making a small nativity scene with architectural elements taken only from the main Market Square. There was also a miniature nativity scene, very simple in decoration, but kept by a figurine of a Krakow resident in traditional outfit. Although I have always made small and miniature cribs, I plan to build a large crib, about 1.5 m high, for one of the next competitions. TLP: How does the creation process look like? How much time does it take? How do you plan new projects? What is the most difficult and what gives you the biggest satisfaction? Do you draw the plans, detailing each element, or do you create your cribs spontaneously? JZ: We can say that I create the nativity scene in a planned way, but there is also an element of spontaneity. I know what the shape will look like, but I don't know what the final effect, with all the details, will be. While working according to a previously planned design, I think about every detail and element. 15 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

Photo by: Max Danilevsky Photography & Movies

Photo by: Jakub Zawadziński

Starting, like in any other technical, artistic and creative project, first there must be an idea of what I will do in a given year. I think about it in my free time. I need to know what elements of Kraków I would like to include in a given project, how big crib I will create and how much time I have for it. Sometimes, I cannot make up anything for a long time, and sometimes just a moment is enough for an idea to come to my mind, sometimes even in the middle of the night or while I am cycling. Then, I sketch various ideas, considering and arranging the crib that is the best looking, the most proportional and the most appealing in terms of composition. Once I know that I will implement the idea and I have a general sketch of the crib with all details, I transfer it to paper in a 1:1 scale as a purely technical sketch, according to which I draw by hand and cut out the grids of geometric figures that make up the structure. In small cribs the structure is made of bristol board and reinforced with thicker cardboard, in large cribs it is reinforced with wooden slats and plywood. Every major element I make in stages, so that I can get to the places that are now available and then as they are put together will not be available. Such work lasts for about 3-4 months. When I make a miniature or small scene, I usually start at the end of August. It will take a whole year to create a large crib. So, you have to start building it in January. My favourite stages in the construction of the crib are the stages of decorating all details, stained glass, doors, roofs, etc., creating figurines and small details using specialized tools with sharp thin endings, You can get them in cosmetics stores for ladies (laughs). I like


Photo by: Max Danilevsky Photography & Movies

this 'lacy' job the most. And in opposition to what I said, the most disliked moments for me are those associated with repetition in creating numerous decorative elements for one decoration. In addition, I do not like technical aspects at the beginning of work, e.g. folding lumps, etc., making twists or rolls of coloured foil to create all the decorations (then, my skin on the fingers is terribly damaged) – but somehow, I have to stand it. However, after finishing work, usually a few days and sometimes just a few hours before the competition, at night, the biggest prize of all these "awards" is the satisfaction that the crib is already finished and ready to be shown. TLP: Is making cribs an important element of your life? As a Kraków resident, do you feel particularly connected with the city during the presentation of the effects of your work? JZ: Personally, the Kraków Crib is the quintessence of all of Kraków – its centuries-old monuments of architecture and art, numerous traditions, and the entire cultural and intellectual heritage. It is a realisation of my inner world of dreams and fairy tales in which I live myself. Longing for a better and more beautiful world. It's just my uninterrupted, private fairy tale to which I can always escape from reality, stress and problems. It gives me joy and satisfaction, so much needed in everyday life. One can say that creating cribs and Kraków are my lifestyle, my way of life – Kraków is my life. I can probably say that I live somehow from Competition to Competition.



When building cribs, I put my heart and a part of my soul into them. I can say (this should be understood for the lovers of modern literature) that cribs are like positive horcruxes from Harry Potter, in opposition to Voldemort's horcruxes. I put a small part of myself and my soul into each of them, a part of what is inside of me. This particle travels then with them into the world, to the viewers. I can't imagine living outside Kraków without creating cribs. You can always leave, even for a long time – but this is my place, my home, my little piece to which I can always come back. I was born here, I live here and this is where I will die. TLP: Tell us, what are the rules for submitting cribs to a competition? Can anyone take part in it? Will we meet you this year at the Market Square? JZ: The Nativity Scene competition is very simple. First of all, it can be entered by anyone from Kraków and from outside Kraków, and from any other country, at any age. To submit a crib to the Competition, you just have to come with it in the morning (until noon) at the Adam Mickiewicz monument in the Market Square, which from the beginning of the competition is a traditional place for presenting the competition works for the current year. Then, the jury enrols candidates for the competition on the list and gives each crib a competition number. The competition has always been held exactly on the first Thursday of December, so this year it was December 5.


The viewers gather near the monument, to see new works of artists, and the cribs compete with each other and with the St. Mary's Church for the title of the most beautiful tower. There are a lot of artists, viewers, tourists and journalists. Nativity scenes are rated in three categories, the first and proper one is the category of adults, so-called "seniors" for participants over 18 years of age, the second is the youth category for people between 14 and 18 years old, and the third is the category of heirs up to 14 years old. At 12 o'clock the cribs' applications for the competition are closed and to the sounds of St. Mary's Basilica hourly buglecall, a colourful retinue of crib creators with their works sets off from under the monument and heads to the nearby Krzysztofory Palace, the main seat of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków – the protector of tradition and the organizer of the competition from almost the beginning. The chanting procession is led by Kraków residents in traditional costumes, holding a Bethlehem star. Then, the cribs stay in the prepared exhibition halls of the post – competition exhibition. Then, the deliberations of the Jury, consisting of Kraków's famous conservators and art historians, artists, ethnologists and ethnographers, directors of the historical and ethnographic museums and painters begin; they evaluate anonymous nativity scenes by scoring them, giving to each from 1 to 10 points in individual categories. The assessment includes: reference to tradition, decorativeness, colours, dolls, architecture, innovation, moving elements, general aesthetic impression. In addition, the cribs are rated in four different size categories, i.e. large cribs over 120 cm, medium cribs 120 to 70 cm, small cribs 70 to 15 cm and miniature cribs below 15 cm. Jury's deliberations usually last until late in the evening and the results of the competition are announced solemnly on Sunday. The day of Nativity Scenes Competition is such an annual holiday for all of their creators, for me personally more important than birthday, one of the most important days of the year, if not the most important. I can't imagine not making a crib and not taking part in the competition. And if I made it and was for example sick on that day, so I wouldn't come to the Monument to the competition, I would feel extremely sad. So, as long as my health allows, I will be at 'Adam' with the new Nativity Scene on the first Thursday of December. I will also promote this tradition everywhere I can, using every opportunity. I also encourage everyone to take part and see this extraordinary event, which is the crib competition in Krakow, live, with your own eyes.

Photos: Jakub Zawadziński


cribs and Kraków are my lifestyle “the Kraków Crib is the quintessence of all of Krakow – its centuries-old monuments of architecture and art, numerous traditions, and the entire cultural and intellectual heritage.” - Jakub Zawadziński

Photos: Jakub Zawadziński


Making Christmas Crib

Photos: Jakub Zawadziński


ARTUS COURT GDAŃSK the most splendid parlour of old Gdańsk


opening time

winter time: Mon-closed, Tue 10am–1pm (free entry) Wed 10 am-4pm, Thu 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am–4pm, Sun 11am–4pm. Tickets: 10 PLN (full price) 5 PLN (reduced price). Family up to 8: 20 PLN

Artus Court, the most splendid parlour of old Gdańsk and boasting one of the most beautiful interiors in Europe indicates its association with the Arthurian legend in its name. Its patron, King Arthur is a mythical figure, not only a prominent character in Anglo-Saxon culture, but of the entire tradition of medieval European chivalry. Among the personages portrayed as sculptures on the façade there are two Romans: Scipio the African, the commander – conqueror of Carthaginians and Camillus – the saviour of Rome during the Gallic wars. The other two sculptures are Themistocles the Greek, the commander of the Athenian army in the Persian war and Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish king who liberated Judea from the Seleucid rule. The two medallions on each side of the court’s portal portray the Swedish (and Polish) king Sigismund Vasa III and his son Vladyslav, the subsequent king of Poland and titular king of Sweden. However, for a long time it was generally believed that the medallions portrayed the emperor Charles V Habsburg and his son Juan d'Austria.

One of the mercantile associations situated in Artus Court at the peak of its prosperity was called The Dutch Bench.The interior design of the court is full of cultural references to ancient and medieval legends and myths. Next to the main entrance there are medallions portraying the protestant reformer Martin Luther and his wife Katharina von Bora. One of the model ships hanging at the canopy of the court represents a felucca, a sailing boat typical of the Mediterranean Sea, here shown as a Turkish galley. Among the characters depicted on the tiles of the great tiled stove (the king of stoves – located in the north-eastern corner of the court’s hall) are probably members of the mid-16th century political elite, Charles V Habsburg being one of them.In the middle of the hall there once stood a statue of the king August III, Prince-elector of Saxony, which was funded by the townspeople grateful to him for the (somewhat forceful, though) introduction of long needed political and financial reforms in Gdansk. The statue was lost in the 1940s.

Address: Długi Targ 43-44, 80-831 Gdańsk


History and tourism

The Artus Court, formerly also Junkerhof, (Polish: Dwór Artusa, German: Artushof) is a historic building in the centre of Gdańsk at Długi Targ 44, which used to be the meeting place of merchants and a centre of social life. Today it is a point of interest of numerous visitors and a branch of the Gdańsk History Museum. The name was taken from the very popular medieval legend of King Arthur – a symbol of chivalry and gallantry. First in England, then in other European countries, his name was given to the houses where knights and aristocrats used to meet. In Poland Artus courts were founded and visited by bourgeoisie. There were several courts in Rzeczpospolita but the one in Gdańsk was by far the most famous. [citation needed] In the early 14th century Artus Courts existed in the Hanseatic towns of Elbing (Elbląg), Riga and Stralsund and similar courts like the House of the Blackheads at Riga and Tallinn. It was home to six fraternities which took their names from benches (Banken), the Reinhold's, St. Christopher's or Lübecker, Marienburger, Biblical Magi's, Councillors' and the Dutch bench. These Confraternities were usually organized according to the merchant's or shipowner's trade relations, e.g. with Lübeck, the Netherlands or Poland and gathered the local elite - members of aristocracy and wealthy bourgeoisie. Already in 1492 merchants from England were allowed to appear at the Court. The entrance was banned for craftsmen, stall-keepers and hired workers. Wealthy merchants and visitors from abroad gathered here in the evenings. They paid for beverages in advance: 3 Schillings in the 17th century. Initially, at least in theory, talking about dealings was forbidden in the Court as the yard in front of it was designated for such purposes. Different performances took place in the evenings musicians, singers, rope-dancers and jugglers came to amuse the visitors. Although they were officially banned, gambling, dice and card games as well as various bets were very popular. Normally only beverages and small snacks were served, but sometimes big feasts, which lasted even for a couple of days, were organized there. Especially at the end of the 17th century the feasts organized with great splendour began to turn into all-night drinking bouts. More and more complaints about the customs in the Court were made. However, not only social meetings took place in the Court. In the 17th century librarians presenting books printed in Danzig appeared there, as well as painters with their art; the banning order for other tradesmen did not apply to them.The heyday of the Artus Court falls into 16th and 17th century, but its history is much longer. The name of the building "curia regis Artus" (The Court of King Artus), which was built in the years 1348-1350, appeared for the first time in 1357 in the municipal note about the land rental from 1350. Another building was probably built in 1379. Its traces 22 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

were probably found during the archeological excavations in 1991. This building of the Court burnt down in 1476. It was reconstructed few years later, and in 1552 a new façade was constructed which was once more rebuilt in 1617 by Abraham van den Blocke in the style of Dutch Mannerism. The building was adorned with statues of antique heroes (Scipio Africanus, Themistocles, Marcus Furius Camillus and Judas Maccabeus), allegories of strength and justice above and the statue of Fortuna on the gable. Medallions with busts of King of Poland Sigismund III Vasa and his son Władysław IV Vasa, who was a prince at that time, were placed on each side of the portal. Throughout the Lutheran Reformation the Reinhold's bench organized an anti-Catholic carnival play in 1522, which was staged inside the court. The interior is one big Gothic hall. Since 1531 it has been completely redecorated – the walls have been covered with wainscot and friezes of mythological and historical character. The richly ornamented furniture and numerous paintings add to the splendour of the hall. The most famous ones are, among others, the works by anonymous artists from the late 15th century – Siege of Marienburg, The Ship of the Church, Orpheus among animals by Hans Vredeman de Vries from 1596 and Last Judgment by Anton Möller. The last painting caused much controversy, as the artist has used the scenery of the city and depicted some significant figures of the period as allegorical characters, such as Pride or Faithlessness. The hall was decorated not only with paintings but also tapestries, ship models, armours, coats of arms, or a cage with exotic birds. The other interesting decoration is the 11-metre high furnace made by Georg Stelzner between 15451546. It is covered with 520 tiles depicting the greatest European leaders, both the Protestants – supporters of the Schmalkaldic League, and the Catholics, among which are portraits of Isabella of Portugal and Charles V.The Artus Court was designed as an exclusive meeting venue for the local elite. Only in 1742, at the request of the town's mercantile companies, the Council agreed to change the Court into the town's stock exchange and the city lost its most famous inn. Artus Court was seriously damaged during the East Pomeranian Offensive of the Red Army in 1945, but it was rebuilt after the war. A vast part of the equipment, including the furnace, were reconstructed with the use of materials hidden from the city before the front moved into Gdańsk. The building was entered into the register of monuments on 25 February 1967. On the front wall of the Court there is a memorial board from 1965 commemorating the 20th anniversary of placing the Polish flag on the Artus Court by the soldiers of the 1st Armoured Brigade. Currently the interior of the Artus Court is open for visitors – there is also the department of the Gdańsk History Museum.

Historic Artus Court


Artus Court Gdańsk photo: Mariusz Ciszewski,

Lighthouse Keeper on Cathedral Island by Wrocław Official

LOOKING FOR THE LAMPLIGHTER AND CHRISTMAS IN WROCŁAW Seeking for a unique and creativity-enhancing atmosphere


There can surely be no more romantic occupation than that of the official Lamplighter of Wrocław! Wrocław is one of only two cities in Europe that still uses Gas lanterns, with the first being lit in the city in 1846. Thankfully on Ostrów Tumski, Wrocław’ s Cathedral Island, the tradition is still carried on to this day and December in Wrocław gives visitors a unique opportunity to meet the notorious Lamplighter. Visitors to the Cathedral Island have chance to see the famous Lamplighter and discover the oldest part of the city during Meet My City’'s Looking for the Lamplighter’ tour. Guests can see the Lamplighter wearing traditional uniform whilst turning on the 108 gas lanterns located on the Island and witness where the history of Wrocław started over 1100 years ago. The Islands of Wrocław offer many examples of beautiful Gothic and Baroque architecture and the Cathedral of John the Baptist, Church of the Holy Cross and St. Giles and St. Martin are all visited on this special tour. Insightful information about Wrocław history and legends of the islands, including the adventures of Casanova's visit to Wroclaw, the legend of the Dumpling Gate and many others make this tour the

Lighthouse Keeper on Cathedral Island public domain by Wrocław Official

perfect way to spend a romantic winter's evening.

WROCŁAW CHRISTMAS MARKET AND CONSPIRATORS Wrocław boasts one of Poland's finest and largest Christmas markets, stretching across Solny Square and most of Wrocław’'s Market Square Running from 22nd November to 31th December 2019, the market creates a wonderful festive atmosphere with attractions and features for all the family. The market boasts a huge selection of shops, amusement rides, live performances, mulled wine dispensaries and of course the Fairy Tale Forest, where animatronic fairy tale characters recount stories to excited children. A perfect way to explore the unique atmosphere of the Christmas Market and taste some famous Polish dumplings at the same time would be on a licensed guided tour. Wrocław tour company Meet My City offer a 2-hour tour in English or Polish, with an informative and friendly guide who will reveal the history of the city and the Christmas market.

This is a very special edition of Meet My City’'s City Tour, during which they also offer guests the chance to discover a very distinctive and unique location from communist times. Hidden within one of Wrocław's most celebrated restaurants, they visit the Secret Conspirators Room to taste delicious traditional Polish food, warm up with a hot drink and learn more about Wrocław, the ‘Fortress of Solidarity’. The tour centres around the Main Market Square and explains the history of the picturesque tenement buildings, Wrocław legends and little-known facts. Guests also get the chance to meet the famous dwarfs and learn why there are so many of them in the city. So why not treat yourself to a day at the Market and take care of your Christmas shopping away from the hectic & overcrowded shopping centres? Meet My City tours are limited to a maximum of ten guests, so early on-line booking is definitely recommended at


Christmas Market public domain by Wrocław Official



a trip to the forgotten land

narrated and photos: Krystian Kiwacz



By many, it is referred to as the wildest Polish mountain chain; it extends over the territory of two countries, Poland and Slovakia. From the east, it borders with the Bieszczady Mountains, reaching as far as the Sądecka Valley in the west. In the north it meets the Central Beskidian Piedmont, and in the south it passes into the Ondavská Highlands. The highest peak of its Polish part is Lackowa (997 m), while in Slovakia it is Busov (1002 m). In the Low Beskids there is the largest depression in the arch of the Carpathians – the Dukielska Pass (500 m above sea level). The most important rivers of the region include: Osława, Wisłok, Jasionka, Wisłoka, Ropa and Biały Dunajec. There are three man-made water reservoirs here: on the Wisłok in Sieniawa, on the Ropa in Klimkówka, and on the Wisłoka in Krępna. Significant areas of the Low Beskids are protected within the Magura National Park and the Jaślin Landscape Park. The Low Beskids mountains are built of sedimentary rocks known as the Carpathian flysch. Here, you can meet the outcrops of Magura sandstone, which took fanciful forms. The best known are Kornuty on Magura Wątkowska and the Devil's Stone on Folusz. 238 caves and rock shelters were discovered throughout the Low Beskids. Among its hills, you can also find two landslide lakes: under Maślana Góra and under Cergowa. About 70% of the area of the Low Beskids are covered with forests. The foothills vegetation level consists of the remains of the original oakhornbeam stands, alder and wicker thickets in the river valleys. On the other hand, the lower mountain zone is covered with fir, beech and pine forests. Due to the small population and large forest cover of the area, there are numerous deer, roe deer, wild boars, hares as well as predators such as bears, lynxes, wildcats, wolves, martens and foxes. Of the 140 species of birds living in this area, the following should be mentioned: the lesser spotted eagle, the golden eagle, the common buzzard, the hawfinch, the eagle owl, the Ural owl and the black stork.

Lower Beskid, Beskid Sądecki and Gorce WORDS BY


Krystian Kiwacz

Krystian Kiwacz | Facebook: Krystian Kiwacz Fotografia

Krystian Kiwacz: Born in Gorlice, from childhood wandering around the Low Beskids, the Tatra Mountains and the Bieszczady. Initially as a participant in rallies and trips organized by PTTK Gorlice, later during individual trips. After a several-year break, he returned to the mountains with a camera to show their beauty. He particularly likes the Low Beskids region with its mountains that he admires the most. In his photographs he wants to show the beauty of these underestimated and mysterious mountains and encourage tourists to visit Gorlice land. On a daily basis, he works as an accountant in the energy industry. Photography is his hobby and a way to spend his free time.

TLP: The Low Beskids Mountains. Krystian, most of your photos depict mountain landscapes and the life associated with the mountains. These are mainly the Carpathians and the Gorlice area (by the way I would like to return to Gorlice one more time at a different time of the year). Therefore, I would like you to take us to one of the most mysterious and abandoned regions of Poland (at least in my opinion), namely the Low Beskids. It is also your place of birth. It was not always the case that the area seemed deserted. The area around Gorlice, on the edge of the Low Beskids and the Ciężkowickie Foothils is the cradle of the global oil industry. Here, in 1852 the world's first oil mine was founded (other sources state that the oldest was the mine in Bóbrka while the first oil well was built in Siary) and 2 years later the first street oil lamp was lit in Gorlice. The Low Beskids were teeming with life. KK: Gorlice land is the cradle of the oil industry in the world. Crude oil was found here in the Middle Ages. This is demonstrated by, among others, the names of places, rivers and streams. The oil was used to treat wounds and ulcers, colds and tuberculosis, and it was believed to work as a medicine for sheep fluke and horse lump. It was also used to soften hides and lubricate the axles of carts and mills. 32 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

Oil from shallow deposits was initially collected by "maziarze" – which was the name of a profession derived from a Polish word "maź", which means slime or slurry. The world's first oil well with a depth of 11.4 m was built in 1852 in the "Empty Forest" on the border of Siary and Sękowa. There were about a thousand of such shafts in Gorlice. Most of them were established in Siary, Sękowa, Libusza, Lipinki and Kryg. The first oil mines began to appear. Gorlice became the main centre of the petroleum industry in Poland, the seat of organizations associated with this branch of industry. Entrepreneurs, investors and qualified workers came to Gorlice from various parts of Poland and from all over the world. In 1854, at the intersection of Kościuszki and Węgierska Streets in Gorlice, the world's first street oil lamp was ignited as a result of the work of Ignacy Łukasiewicz. In 1883, the largest crude oil processing plant was established in Glinik Mariampolski, today's Gorlice district, as a distillery separating lighting kerosene from oil. The founder of the refinery was, with the financial support of the Austrian banker John Bergheim, a Canadian engineer William Henry Mac Garvey, who came to Galicia at the invitation of the explorer of rich oil deposits – Stanisław Szczepanowski.

The Oil Refinery for decades was a thriving company, employing several hundred employees. Unfortunately, in 2005 the court declared bankruptcy of the company. TLP: The word "Low" in the name of the Low Beskids mountains might discourage some tourists to visit the area or even deter them (if, for example, they like high mountains). But fortunately, this name does not have to mean and actually it does not mean that there is nothing interesting here. Like all other mountains, the Low Beskids have their advantages. What is their biggest attraction, according to you? Nostalgic landscapes, traces of abandoned villages, mountain ranges, views – e.g. the one from the top of Barani? KK: The Low Beskids are one of the wildest regions in Poland. We will not find here commercial attractions, famous all over Poland, attracting crowds of people. Instead, we can find here peace and quiet, "disturbed" only by the sound of domestic and forest animals, birds singing, the sound of the wind, jingling of the bells hanging on the necks of sheep or the sound of horses running in the meadows. Beautiful wooden chapels and Orthodox churches are the real gem of this area. Several of them, such as those in Sękowa, Owczary or Kwiatoń, were inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. These facilities are open to visitors. In their interiors, visitors can admire beautiful polychromes, iconostasis, listen to interesting stories told by local guides. Located in picturesque places, they are an indispensable element of the Beskid landscape. The peaks of the Low Beskids, once grassy, are now overgrown with dense forests. It does not mean, however, that there are no interesting viewpoints here. There is no longer an observation tower on Barani, it was pulled down at the beginning of 2019 due to its poor technical condition threatening the health and life of tourists, but in its place the lookout towers on Cergowa, on Ferdel nad Wapienne were constructed. Interesting views, including the panoramas of the Tatra Mountains, are also offered by a metal tower in Jaworze near Grybów, on the border of the Low Beskids and the Beskid Sądecki. In addition, interesting viewpoints are located on Grzywacka Mountain, Tokarnia, Wysokie which is a mount in the very heart of the Magura National Park, on Jasionka, Krzywe or Oderne. TLP: As someone rightly stated, the most impressive thing about these mountains are the valleys. Most of the wealth of the Low Beskids lies in its valleys. There are even those for whom the Low Beskids are just valleys with all the richness of the Lemko culture, both the tragic one associated with displacement, which resulted in abandoned villages,

vergrowing cemeteries, as well as the part we can admire today and revive – living "Lemko tradition" and its folklore or folk tradition. Do you agree with this opinion (also as a photographer and a resident of these areas)? KK: I fully agree with this statement. Traveling through the valleys of the Low Beskids, we may witness a living history. At every step we meet both the traces of abandoned villages, the signs of bloody events in the Gorlice land which are war cemeteries as well as the traces of culture and religion of the population living here, i.e. wooden Catholic and Orthodox churches, roadside crosses and chapels. It is hard to imagine, but decades ago, the surrounding villages were teeming with life. A great example is Nieznajowa, a village that no longer exists, formerly located in the Wisłoka Valley on the outskirts of the Magura National Park. Once there were very popular cattle markets and four annual fairs in the village. There were also two large mills, a police station, a school, a shop, an inn, two churches and a post office. The village was displaced in 1945. Today, there is only a cottage and a summer house, and the once bustling life is evidenced by the symbolic door standing there with the history of the place, a cemetery, stone crosses and foundations of houses or overgrown cellars hidden in tall grass. Symbolic doors as artistic forms commemorate also other abandoned villages, i.e. Czarne, Radocin, Lipna and Długie. TLP: The former cultural richness of the Low Beskids is largely shaped by the Ruthenian population living here for centuries, called Lemkos since the 19th century, despite the fact that as part of the campaign they were displaced from here (later some of them returned to these areas). After displacement, nature slowly began to "rule" in abandoned fields and in Lemko villages. Later, Beskid was slowly inhabited by new settlers, but some villages were still uninhabited to this day. What is the current life in these areas like? Did it revive after turmoil of war (also in cultural sense)? What do the interpersonal, social relations look like here? Are the old traditions and customs of the region respected and cultivated? KK: Despite the fact that the inhabitants have not returned to several villages, you cannot see neglected, fallow fields or meadows in the Low Beskids. In Czarne, there has been a shepherd lodge for several years, that annually, for several months becomes a home for shepherds and their attendants from Podhale who graze sheep in the surrounding deserted villages. They are an inseparable element of the landscape of this part of the Low Beskids. 33 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

Cattle is bred all over the remaining inhabited area. On the other hand, herds of horses run in the meadows of Regietowo Wyżne or Izby. The large number of these animals means that the meadows are mowed in summer and the hay / silage collected then become the animal's feed on winter days. People of different denominations try to live in harmony with each other. Proof of this may be the road signs with the names of different places written in both Polish and Ruthenian. The cultural heritage of Lemkos is still cultivated today. There are many Lemkos associations in Poland, including The Lemkos Association based in Legnica or the "Ruska Bursa" Association from Gorlice. The main goals of their activity include: integration of the Lemko population, propagation, popularization and development of Lemko education, culture, art and language, popularization of the Lemko history, knowledge about the life and activity of Lemkos outside of Poland as well as care for the monuments of Lemko culture and memorial sites in Poland . The most famous events include “Łemkowskie Watry” (e.g. in Michałów in exile or in Zdynia in the Low Beskids), “Lemko kermesze” (in numerous villages of the Lemko Land) or the International Folklore Festival "Świat pod Kyczera" organized by the Lemko Song and Dance Ensemble "Kyczera". In addition, the Lemkos have their own radio station, the radio broadcasts from transmitters in Gorlice (106.6 MHz) and in Polkowice (103.8 MHz) and via the internet at, which is also the largest information portal of Lemkos in the world. TLP: Apparently one of the most interesting tourist solutions in the Low Beskids are thematic routes. They are not marked in a traditional way, but through information boards next to given objects or signposts directing tourists to those locations One of the most interesting of them is probably the wooden architecture trail. What other routes would you recommend? For hiking, learning about traditions, communing with nature or history? KK: Being in the vicinity of the Low Beskids, it is worth visiting a few of the facilities located on the Carpathian-Galician Oil Trail to learn about the rich history of the oil industry. The most interesting of such objects would include the Museum of Oil and Gas Industry of Ignacy Łukasiewicz in Bóbrka, Maziarska Farm Open-Air Museum in Łoś, Open-Air Oil Industry Museum "Magdalena" at Lipowa Street in Gorlice and Regional Museum PTTK in Gorlice. Another interesting proposition is a fragment of the Trail of the World War I Eastern Front that runs through the Low Beskids and the Foothills. These are mainly war cemeteries that testify to the bloody events that took place in the Gorlice region. 34 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

On May 2-5, 1915, German and Austrian-Hungarian armies broke the Russian front near Gorlice. It is estimated that nearly two hundred thousand soldiers were killed or injured in the fighting. The battle left permanent marks on the Gorlice land in the form of a necropolis, where the soldiers of both warring parties were buried together. It's worth visiting at least the war cemetery No. 60 on the Małastowska Pass and war cemetery No. 51 on Rotunda near Regietowo. Magura National Park offers five nature paths: Kiczera Nature Trail, Hałbów – Kamień Nature Trail, Folusz Nature Trail, Świerzowa Ruska Cultural Nature Trail, Olchowiec Nature and Historic Path. We recommend educational paths: "Magura Małastowska" in Małastów, 2 km long, presenting the issues of species diversity of mountain forests, forest nursery production, forest breeding and topics with the history of Gorlice Land and the 21 km long "Radocin" trail, starting at hotel in Radocin, presenting the historical richness of the Gorlice area and many natural curiosities (landslide, beaver lodges, remains of the Carpathian Forest, beautiful panoramas of the Low Beskids). The Low Beskids have also interesting horse and bicycle routes and a rich network of tourist routes that allow you to traverse the wild Beskids in silence and in harmony with nature. TLP: And referring to the previous question. What can be classified as so-called Top in the Low Beskids. A wonderful spring in Nowica, Rychwałd roadside crosses, World War I Cemeteries? Or something else? Who would find the area the most appealing? KK: The main attractions of the Low Beskids are certainly churches and chapels along the Wooden Architecture trail, Magura National Park and its rich flora and fauna (it is also worth visiting the Educational Center with the Museum located at the MPN headquarters in Krempna), abandoned villages (Nieznajowa, Czarne, Radocyna, Długie) as well as small but peaceful spa towns, e.g. Wysowa Zdrój, IwoniczZdrój, Rymanów Zdrój, and Wapienne). Of course, it is worth going to the highest peak of the Polish part of the Low Beskids – Lackowa and also visiting the Hucul Horse Stud in Regietów. On hot summer days, you can look for refreshment at beautiful Klimkowskie Lake. We might enjoy the results of continuous development of high quality accommodation facilities and catering base. The Low Beskids are a place for people who want to rest in peace and quiet from everyday hustle. The region also provides many attractions, so it's impossible to get bored here. It is enough to come here once to fall in love with the beauty, culture and history of this mysterious land.

Ropica Górna: a village in the administrative district of Gmina Sękowa, within Gorlice County. On photo: Wooden Greek Catholic church.

TLP: This question should be perhaps the first, namely, our conversation takes place in winter, and we present such photos. Is this time of a year an obstacle while considering the visit to the Low Beskids? Is it equally attractive to tourists in winter and other times of the year? Do you like winter in the Low Beskids? KK: Winter time does not make a problem while visiting the Low Beskids. Yes, it may be a little harder to reach abandoned villages like Nieznajowa, but this is still possible. The Low Beskids are a great place to practice crosscountry or trail skiing. As a rule, gentle slopes facilitate safe movement on skis. Association for the Development of Sołectwo Krzywa prepared a project for tourists called "Snowy routes through forests", establishing an 80 km network of cross-country skiing trails covering, among others, abandoned villages.

Winter horse sleigh rides organized by stud farms in Regietów, Ropki and Izby are very popular. Personally, I really like winter in the Low Beskids. Ever since I took up cross-country skiing, my appetite for winter trips has increased even more. I don't mind a few degrees of frost. I am looking forward to the first snowfalls that change the Beskid forests into a fairy-tale land. I recommend going to the summit of Maura Małastowska in winter and also to war cemetery No. 51 on Rotunda, which looks beautiful after fresh snowfall. Last winter I went with my friend to the top of the Rotunda at night. Snowcovered shingles against the background of the starry sky looked amazing. The Low Beskids, however, like any mountains, require common sense and prudence when planning hiking or skiing trips. In the higher parts, you may encounter a significant amount of snow and this would require good physical preparation from the tourist. Hence, you should never underestimate the trails of the Low Beskids in the winter.

The main attractions of the Low Beskids are certainly churches and chapels along the Wooden Architecture trail

“ The Low Beskids are also a great place to practice crosscountry or trail skiing.” 35 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

TLP: Krystian, in this conversation we focused on the Low Beskids (and as a matter of fact, we had a good reason for that). However, I would not like to ignore other of your winter photos from the Polish mountains. I know that one of the mountain chains most frequently visited by you is Beskid Sądecki with the range of Gorce. These are another slightly smaller 'mountain ranges'. What makes them so appealing? Apparently, you were also in the mountains during a beautiful phenomenon called 'Super moon' or 'super full'. Please, tell me a bit about the experience of communing with nature during the phenomenon of the full moon. Does it have a different dimension in the natural surroundings of nature, outside of urban clusters? What does it mean for a photographer or for someone who can experience it? KK: Every landscape photographer wants to have magnificent panoramas in his portfolio. Beskid Sądecki and Gorce, compared to the Low Beskids, have excellent viewpoints, covering both picturesque valleys and Tatra peaks. The most beautiful panoramas stretch from Jaworzyna Krynicka, the observation tower on Koziarz and the trail from the Obidza Pass to Radziejowa - the highest peak of the Beskid Sądecki. In Gorce, unforgettable views are provided by lookout towers in Lubań, Gorec and Magurka. A real attraction in winter are specially prepared cross-country skiing routes in the area of Turbacz, the highest peak of Gorce. One of my unforgettable photographic experiences was the ascent to the peak of Lubań in November 2016. I made an appointment at one o'clock at

night in Grywałd with a friend photographer from Kraków. Together, we climbed to the top. There would be nothing extraordinary in it (maybe except the unusual time of wandering) if it had not been the time of super fullness, a beautiful phenomenon during which we can see a huge and extremely spectacular moon. According to scientists, the full moon on the night of November 14-15, 2016 was not only the largest full moon in 2016, but also the most spectacular since 1948. Another such spectacular phenomenon will be visible only in 2034. The Moon we could observe was 14 percent larger than usual and by one third brighter. The severe frost reaching above -20°C did not prevent us from spending more than five hours on the tower. The high brightness of the moon made me feel like if I was standing on the tower during the day. The fact that it was the middle of the night was only evidenced by the lights from street lamps of nearby towns visible in the valleys. Despite the night, there was a beautiful panorama. The charm of this place was emphasized by fabulously snowy trees. Fresh white snowy powder covering the ground additionally brightened the whole area. Certainly being in natural surroundings, in such wonderful conditions, was worth a sleepless night. After this unique mountain trip, I have not only magnificent photographs left but wonderful memories and impressions as well. A beautiful sunrise admired from the observation tower complemented this unique night at the top. I will definitely come back in winter both to Beskid Sądecki and Gorce. I still have unfulfilled winter photographic and tourist plans. However, my beloved Low Beskids have priority.

Banica, photo by Krystian Kiwacz 36 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND


Magura, Austrian War Cemetery No.60

Magura war cemetery contains the graves of 174 Austro Hungarian soldiers who fell in the First World War.


Rotunda  Beskid Niski Krystian Kiwacz An atmospheric place marked by the history of World War I. The Regietowa approach takes 30 minutes to 1 hr and it is a pleasant route, at times tighter uphill. A beautifully restored, tiny cemetery.


Gorce. The park is located within the Małopolska Voivodeship in southern Poland, and contains the Gorce mountain range with its highest massif, Turbacz (1310 m.a.s.l.). The range is dominated by about a dozen gentle peaks including Turbacz in the centre, and – facing east: Jaworzyna Kamienicka (1288 m), Kiczora (1282 m), Kudłoń (1276 m), Przysłop, Czoło and Gorc Kamienicki. A five-minute walk from that its peak is to a splendid mountain hut offering a stunning view of the Tatras and Pieniny mountains. The Gorce Mountains are a popular tourist area, with forty well-marked trails for hiking trips two-to-four hours long, split into different levels of difficulty with the maximum distance of 17km (Raba Niżna-Turbacz Trail, which is twice the average length). Notably, the colors of trail blazes (signs for hikers and skiers alike) do not imply levels of difficulty, but rather primary and secondary trails with different length and orientation, for example: the red and blue colors signify trails in east-west and north-south directions, while shortest loops generally use yellow blazes.



A characteristic element of the Gorce landscape comes in the form of its glades, which provide breathtaking panoramic views of the Tatras, Pieniny, Island Beskids and Beskid Sądecki ranges. These glades came about in the Middle Ages due to extensive forest burnings, replaced with pastures for grazing sheep. There are a number of smaller caves in the Gorce, carved out in sedimentary rock and its conglomerates which form the Carpathian Flysch Belt. High annual rainfall is caused by the air forced up by the mountains and accumulating into clouds. Rain water flows fast in all directions due to dense ground and ground-cover; feeding the Raba river on the north-west side of the Gorce, and the Dunajec on the south-east side.



Lunań, 1225 metres. In Lubań, the summers are comfortable and partly cloudy and the winters are very cold, dry, windy, and mostly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from -3°C to +23°C and is rarely below -11°C or above +29°C. Based on the tourism score, the best time of year to visit Lubań for warm-weather activities is from late June to late August. Many will also climb in October or during the winter season.



Łackowa. The original name came from Lemko and was: Łackowa (Wackowa). It the the highest peak in Beskid Niski – 997 m. It could be easily spotted from villages of Izby oraz Bieliczna. The western Red Road is one of the most narrow one in Polish mountains – especially last 300 m.


a view on the highest peak in Beskid Niski- Lackowa Photo by Krystian Kiwacz


To the left and to the right: A view from Lubań peak. One of the highest and most popular peaks in Gorce Mountains. It has 2 summits: Western reaches 1211 m and provides an outstanding panorama of the region. Eastern reaches 1225 m and is covered by dark, dense forests. Lubań is an important place in the local folklore, the legends tell about the wizard fights on the top of the mountain.




a view on Lubań Photo by Krystian Kiwacz


Till now, Katarzyna lived almost all her life in the Low Beskids. She is particularly interested in everyday life in the former Lemko region. The imagination plays an important role in her life, helping to feel the atmosphere of the visited places. She is into handicrafts, and specifically crocheting. Working on various projects allows you to relax, in a sense it has become a way of life. She is also passionate about photography. She tries to capture in her frames inanimate nature, landscapes and the transience, in the broad sense of the word. Weekly photo trips have already become a tradition.

How they fought with vampires in the Lemko Land

Although it is hard to believe, even after World War II in the Carpathians it was believed that the dead could turn into ghosts. Especially in the Low Beskids and the Bieszczady Mountains there was a belief that some people have two souls and two hearts. Since the demand for warding off evil powers responsible for many misfortunes, including the plague spreading in this area, was enormous, a group of "specialists" for vampires, ghosts and ghouls was created. These witchers were called "bacza"... What is a ghoul? The ghoul should be located somewhere on the border between supernatural phantoms and people. It is a creature (some think it is a ghost, others believe it is a walking dead), which, after its death, comes out of the grave and can make various malice – it frightens people, strangles cattle, etc. The second type includes people who cannot part with their abandoned families, so they come back to their homes at night and help with work on the farm, chop wood, thresh grain. There are also stories about wraiths who visited their living wives and had normal marital relations with them. It was believed that a person conceived from intercourse during menstruation could become a ghoul after death. The future wraith or ghoul could be recognized in his lifetime as he had a remarkably red face and dark brow formation. After death, the body of the delinquent was supposed to show outstanding elasticity, such bodies would not stiffen and the blush on their faces would seem to remain. Two souls, two hearts The wraith has two hearts, one righteous – from the human and the other unfair, coming from the devil. It is similarly with its souls. One was baptized and, after the body's death, went quietly to the afterlife. The other, not baptized, remained in the corpse and caused the dead to leave the grave. It was said that when such a person dies, "there is no peace after death" for him. Living with a ghoul Women who died in childbirth often became ghouls. It is obvious that it is difficult for the mother to leave the new-born child, so at night they got up from the grave to feed and bathe their children. In one village, the deceased young mother would leave the grave. Her relatives placed a bowl of water and a linen cloth by the stove. Every morning the towel was wet and the child was thoroughly bathed.


How to neutralize a wraith? The witcher, or 'bacza', using his magical methods, searched for a grave in the cemetery, from which the dead could potentially leave. Then he dug up the grave. The coffin was excavated, the corpse was removed, and the dead man was turned his back up. The whole ritual was completed by the nailing of the body to the ground with an aspen peg or an iron tooth from a harrow. It was still necessary to cut off the head, put it between the legs, and cover the dead with prickly branches (e.g. blackthorn). The final measure preventing re-emerging from the grave was covering it with stones. The most suspected of becoming ghouls were suicides, people affected by various diseases, villains, people accused of witchcraft, etc. Their graves were unearthed in the first place; in the event of calamities that met the village, the first suspicion always fell on these people: Leszek Babej, Bacza from Kreckovec, Tymko Rydżyk – the Lemko witchers. Leszek Babej (Gyrda) is the most famous in the Lemkos region. Carefree, notoriously drunk. He lived in Blechnarka and was buried there, and his grave can be found at the local cemetery (by the way, it's interesting where in that grave rests his head). He systematically used to spend all his fees, received from his patients, for drinking. He used to say, "If I bought a calf for it, it would die, and if I brought it home, a fire would burn it, I'd better waste it on drinking." Although he did not enjoy much respect, people used to talk about his effectiveness and he had a large clientele. When he was in his sixties, he predicted that two months before his death he would lose his speech and would be seriously ill because all the suffering from which he used to save people, would fall on him. According to local stories, the prophecy came true as two months before his death, Gyrda lost his speech.Bacza from Kreckovec is a completely different type of a man. He came from a family dealing with this profession for years, which is why the term "bacza" became their family name. He was pious and wore a beard, which made him look really serious. The Bacza family were not only dealing with the disposal of ghouls. They also dealt with quackery and undoing charms. Some of them could even set the bones and heal. Tymko Rydżyk was the successor of Leszek Babej. It was believed that when a witcher passes on his skills to the successor, then he loses his power himself. At the same time, this profession, the skills passed from mouth to mouth, were kept the greatest secret. That is why to this day we do not know the magic spells, prayers or the contents of "whispering".

Suicide from Lackowa

Vampire from Zamkowa Street in Sanok

How the disposal of the ghoul looked like we know from the description by an eyewitness, late Tymko Okarma. As he remembered, the son of the owner of the local glassworks hanged himself. According to the customs, those who committed suicide were not buried at the local cemetery, but away from the village. Therefore, the unfortunate one was buried in Lackowa, in the place "where three borders came together", namely, at that time these were the Hungarian border, and the borders of the villages of Huta Wysowska and Bieliczna. After some time, disturbing news spread around the villages that the "young gentleman" walks in the woods and threatens women picking mushrooms. Therefore, the villagers brought a witcher from the Tatra Mountains (it was believed that the best ‘baczas’ come from those mysterious mountains and that generally this profession originates from this region a), an old man in his nineties, who, in the company of the inhabitants of the whole village, went to the burial place. First, about 3 cubic meters of stones were removed from the grave; they were originally put on the grave so that the dead could not leave it – but they did not work this time – and the corpse was excavated.Despite the fact that it was already two months after his death, his body did not even start decomposing. The witcher lit a bonfire, threw some herbs at it, then infused the corpse with their smoke, sprinkled it with holy water and then cut off the head with an axe and turned the body back to the grave. He put the blackthorn branches between his spread legs and laid his head on them. At the end he nailed the corpse to the ground with two long nails, one of which he hammered between the shoulder blades and the other into the loins. After subsequent incense and sprinkling with holy water, the grave was buried again. Wraiths in Jawornik near Komańcza. The best known and most widely described case of vampire burials are the ones from Jawornik. Oskar Kolberg, a well-known Polish ethnographer, wrote about local customs: 'Mountain people believe strongly in ghosts; and so in the village of Jawornik on Osławica there is not even one man buried in the cemetery who would not have a stud in his head, or a cut off head at his feet ". The ritual of vampire burials itself was in operation for at least several hundred years. The first known case of such a burial took place at the beginning of the 16th century, the last one is believed to have taken place in Jawornik after World War II, just before the displacement of the village.

An interesting case is a grave discovered in the 1980s in Sanok on Zamkowa Street. During the demolition of a historic house built in the vicinity of the Trinity Church a cemetery for several dozen graves was found. One burial caught the attention of archaeologists studying the case. The person buried in the grave was about 25 years old. It is difficult to determine the sex of this person because the bones of the skull indicate that it could be a man while the pelvic bones seem to belong to a woman. Archaeologists speculate that this man may have been a hermaphrodite (a person then has the bodily features of both a woman and a man). Probably because of that the deceased was not left alone after death. Prophylactically, someone dug him up, cut off his head and tucked it between his or her legs. In the same cemetery, the archaeologists found two more strange graves: the dead people were buried in them with coins in their mouths - which shows that they were also believed to have been somehow "suspicious". Shall we believe that? Fear of all kinds of evil powers is as old as the existence of the human species. Now, we can recognize many human defects or diseases. Earlier, before the war, if someone was a freak, for example, he had a big head or bulging eyes, it was said that it was a "freak", or that he or she was a foundling or a waif. A reader who has not met in his life such stories in his area nay find it difficult to understand how these beliefs have survived to this day. However, if you used to hear from the childhood at your family table, that your grandmother or greatgrandmother said that she had seen a ghost "with her own eyes" – it already changes things a little bit. Some will call faith in ghosts, ghouls or wraiths ordinary ignorance. However, I think that this is an element of the culture, to some extent integrating the community, which had to deal with the evil forces haunting the village together and on their own. I'm not saying that digging up the graves was good, but there was permission to do it, for the sake of the community; people were looking at it and nobody was exasperated at the time. I do not make anyone believe this, but please, treat this text as an element of history and culture, because it is a distant past, we will not change it, we can only read about it now, many years after these events. And this will not come back, I think...


Winter climbing in Tatra mountains by Stanisław Magiera

Photos: Stanisław Magiera, Rafał Raczyński, Leszek Kłyś, Paweł Pośpiech, Tomasz Wróblewski and Grzegorz Zielski.

Photo: Rafał Raczyński Gerlach 2655 m atsl, High Tatra

The Tatra and Podhale areas are very diverse and can be traversed in many different ways: of course on foot but also by bike, with walking poles (Nordic walking) or in another way, for skilful explorers – through high mountain climbing. Climbing requires excellent preparation as well as courage. Months, and frequently even years of practice, are an indispensable element before such an expedition. Lots of climbers, who have completed several climbing seasons in the rocks, sooner or later will ask themselves this question – how to start climbing in the Tatra mountains? The field of mountain climbing has not been present yet in our Magazine, so we decided to talk to Stanisław Magiera and ask him a few questions that, as we hope, will bring you closer to this topic, and perhaps encourage or inspire you to take further steps.

TLP: Stanisław, how did you find yourself in the mountains and how did you find the Tatras? Or maybe the Tatras found you?

SM: I was born and brought up in the region of Polish Spisz, in a picturesque corner of Poland at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. You can say that I spent all my childhood here, so I have had my enthusiasm for the mountains since I was a child. It is not true, however, that I have always wanted to explore or hike the mountains. Although I was delighted with the view of the mountains from the window, I could not fully appreciate it. Everything changed when I left my hometown. Studying and working in Krakow and later in Katowice locked me up in an urban, dirty world, away from nature. Talking with friends, I was often asked questions about interesting tourist routes, interesting places with breathtaking views and then I began to miss the mountains. Ten years after this event, I went with my friend on Rysy – it seems to me that the need for it 52 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

was growing all the time and I finally had to free it, climbing the highest peak in Poland in winter. And so it continues to this day... It has already been three years now – whenever I have time, I get in the car to visit the Tatras again. TLP: Climbing in the Tatras – why is it worth a try? Most people, after all, limit their mountain activities to hiking. What do the Tatras offer to the mountain climbers? Some people say it's a training ground for further expeditions, but is it only this?

SM: I will start with a very trivial statement – "The Tatras are unique". There is not a similar area in any part of Europe anymore, and what impresses everyone is its accessibility and multi-colour. During one summer day we are able to get to the top and leave it before dark. The magic that comes out of the rocks is indescribable, and you can feel it at any time of the year. In addition, the Tatras are built of solid granite – this allows for more precise, more stable and safer climbing. The rocks do not crumble, and we can feel real fun instead of being frustrated by the lack of freedom of movement. The Tatra Mountains also offer training for climbers who want to hit further areas – central Asia or South America. Winters in the mountains, although milder than a dozen years ago, are still severe and cold enough to allow the body to harden and get used to harsh weather conditions. The Tatra Mountains also offer training for climbers who want to hit further areas – central Asia or South America. Winters in the mountains, although milder than a dozen years ago, are still severe and cold enough to allow the body to harden and get used to harsh weather conditions.

relationships that have been built in such difficult mountain conditions provide the foundation to build further relationships with other people in ordinary, everyday life.

SM: I think that most people understand in general what it is. Mountaineering is climbing practiced in the high mountains, in Poland – in the Tatras (hence the Polish word for it – ‘taternictwo’). It allows me to log out of life, get closer to nature. It builds my selfdiscipline and perseverance. I once heard a statement that sport can build character and there is something in it. Seeing the ubiquitous adversities that I meet in the mountains, I get immune to what surrounds me, maybe I even somehow hardened, matured because of that. It contributed to the fact that I got to know myself. Once shy, withdrawn and willing to escape to a big city, I became someone of fresh, open mind and great self-confidence. Although it seems that mountain climbing is something lonely as there are only you and the rocks, this is not quite the right statement. During these few years I met many people. I motivated some of them to start this adventure with me, others preferred just to listen about it, and the rest inspired me to constantly develop myself. As you can see, it allowed me to build many relationships with people who love mountains like me, which is of great importance to me. Thanks to the adversities and difficulties that we encounter on mountain trails, the adventures shared and the moments of horror, we meet our best friends. Friendships made in the mountains remain for life. Common interests and shared passions bring people together very much. In difficult moments, when we rely on another person, we truly appreciate the presence of this person, we learn mutual respect for each other, and we gain huge trust. The friendships I have made in the mountains give me great satisfaction, motivation and great joy. People with whom I go on mountain expeditions give me a lot of energy to persist, and the

TLP: Where to start climbing adventure in the Tatras? Which routes in the Tatras are best for climbing Probably those around Morskie Oko?

view on Orla Perć from Świnica peak 2301, February 2018, photo: Stanisław Magiera

SM: The path to take your first climbing steps in the Tatras may seem difficult, especially in winter, then it is very extreme and you need to be prepared for it. But it is worth every effort, because it allows us to overcome our weaknesses and look at the world around us from a slightly different perspective. The easiest way is to learn from competent people. It is worth looking for experienced climbers in your area. Another way, in turn, can be practicing at a climbing wall, from which, in principle, a lot of people start. The best option for the beginnings of climbing adventure seems to be the Tatra ridges – they are suitable to go in every season of the year, which is extremely important. At the beginning, I recommend going to the mountains in summer – this time does not require the purchase of more equipment, weather conditions are usually safe for taking the route and there is no need to use advanced techniques to pass them. The most popular summer climbing routes are the trail in Świnica, Zamarła crag, Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka and Mnich in the area of Morskie Oko. The last peak I recommend for the beginning because of the easiness of finding the line. Getting lost can be very annoying and often dangerous when we get into difficulties that overwhelm us. In turn, winter climbing should start from the paths in the socalled winter laboratory in the cirque of Kocioł Gąsienicowy, where we can find easy ways to practice belaying in snowy, mixed and even icefall areas.

last camp before Świnica peak, February 2018, photo: Stanisław Magiera

Kurtyka's Lobby, 1800m atsl, High Tatras, March 2019 photo: Grzegorz Zielski

TLP: What is mountaineering? Is this a contact with the wall, the power of the mountains perceived in the perspective inaccessible to tourists?


to the left: the highest peak in Poland. Rysy 2499 m atsl. Independence Day. November 2019, photo: Tomasz Wróblewski Central photo: Panorama from the top of Rysy. Rysy 2499 m atsl, High Tatra, Poland/Slovakia; January 2018, photo: Tomasz Wróblewski to the right: On the way to Skrajny Granat along the yellow trail. Skrajny Granaty 2225 m atsl, High Tatra, Poland, January 2019, photo: Grzegorz Zielski For the more advanced, there are many interesting ways in Kościelec and Mięguszowiecki Bandzioch, but there are often crowded ones, and for the best climbers there are routes, often mixed, on Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. TLP: Which of your climbing routes did you remember best? Was it because of the difficulties or maybe the beauty of the views? Do you like winter climbing or do you prefer the summer season? SM: I remembered the first winter ascent of Mnich – an outstanding rock spire in the Polish High Tatras, located in the valley of the stream of Rybi Potok, near Morskie Oko. It is one of the most characteristic peaks in the Tatras and a very popular climbing object. It is best known for its 250m east wall, however, on the north-west wall there are a lot of easier climbing routes for beginners and intermediate climbers. Although the views were breathtaking, I will never forget this trip mainly due to weather conditions: temperature -20°C, wind stabbing my eyes, no sun. From that moment, I was less 54 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

enthusiastic about winter expeditions, but at the same time this season of the year gives me more adrenaline. That expedition excited me very strongly and at the same time taught me humbleness. I think I like diversity, I can find something fascinating in the Tatras at any time of the year. In the winter you can experience the harsh nature, and in the summer there is more leisure and fun. I think I like diversity. Something fascinating can be found in the Tatras. In the spring, summer or autumn, the mountains give a lot of unforgettable, breathtaking views. In winter, however, you can also experience the harshness of nature and wildlife more. It has its own meaning, but the Tatra always make me happy regardless of the season. Once I heard a quote, probably by Andrzej Zawada – a climber: "Because mountains only make sense if there is a man with his emotions and dreams and experiences". This quote probably explains what we should take to the mountains, which in my opinion is also very important in climbing so I think that being in the mountains, it is sometimes worth remembering it.

Winter in Tatra mountains

top: Sunrise on Kozi Wierch. The highest peak that is completely on the Polish side of Tatras at 2291 m atsl, January 2018, photo.: Stanisław Magiera central left photo: The Main Ridge approach Ganek. In the distance on the left: Gerlach. Ganek 2462 m atsl, High Tatra, Slovakia, photo: Rafał Raczyński central right photo: Direction: Orla Perć towards Kozia Przełęcz. Przełęcz Zawrat 2159 m atsl, High Tatra, Poland, 2018, April, photo: Leszek Kłyś bottom to the left: On the way to Zawratowa Turnia. Zawratowa Turnia approx. 2247m atsl, High Tatra, Poland, 2018, January, photo: Leszek Kłyś bottom central photo: icefall in Staroleśna Valley, High Tatra, Slovakia, 2018 March, photo: Andrzej Pęksyk bottom to the right photo: Gąsienicowa Valley with Świnica, Kościelec and Kozi Wierch peaks. In the background Gąsienicowa Valley, 1425 m atsl, High Tatra, Poland, 2018, March, photo: Stanisław Magiera


Wielicka Valley approx 2100 m atsl. High tatras, Slovakia February 2019 photo: Rafał Raczyński



The Kielce Countryside Museum – Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia was established in 1976, and began to operate from 1977. It implements the scientific assumptions of Professor Roman Reinfuss, an ethnographer and an expert on traditional folk culture. His intention was to restore a typical settlement system of villages from various subregions of the Kielce region: the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, the Kraków – Częstochowa Upland, the Sandomierz Upland and the Nida Basin.

for more info visit:

Photographs by Przemysław Sękowski

Selected objects: The manor house from Suchedniów was built at the beginning of the 19th century on a horseshoe plan. It was the property of Wincenty Tarczyński. Until the end of the 19th century, a post station operated in the building. The outer walls were built of larch beams boarded with planks, while the partition walls were made of fir wood. The manor was covered with a pediment roof, with a double layer of fir shingle. In front of the main entrance, there is a column porch with a bent awning. The windows are equipped with external shutters, mounted on the hinges of the blacksmith's handwork.

The interior was arranged in a manner typical middle-class noble family from the second half of the 19th century standard of living. The living room is the most representative room of the manor, official guests were received there. You can find there two sets of furniture in the style of Louis Philippe, a classicist dresser, a dish cabinet serving a decorative function and a bunting tapestry on the wall. The Czernikiewicz farm in Bodzentyn is an example of the specific architecture of small agricultural towns, so numerous in the past throughout the Kielce region. The farmstead consists of: a residential building, outbuildings and a coach house, which, together with the enclosing yard with a wooden fence, form a compact quadrilateral complex. The walls of all buildings were erected from fir wood, while the roofs are covered with shingles. The farm is the oldest and the only one of small-town farmstead known from the Kielce region, preserved in such a comprehensive condition. Its oldest elements (parts of a residential house and outbuildings, coach house and fence) come from 1809. The other three were added to the house later. Residential rooms come from 1870 and 1920. The exhibition recreates interiors inhabited by a middle-class, multigenerational family of a small-town farmer. The exhibition has been recreated on the basis of field research carried out in Bodzentyn and on archival materials. The first room, hall and all utility rooms are examples of interiors from the midnineteenth century. The second room represents the residential interior from the beginning of the twentieth century, and the third chamber from the interwar period. A Dutch windmill from Pacanów was built in 1913. Its founder and builder was Michał Zasucha. The windmill milled the grain until the mid-1950s. In 1976, the mill was purchased for the Kielce Countryside Museum, and in 1993 it was transferred to the open-air museum. The windmill is built on an octagonal plan, consists of three floors. It has a shingled roof with a rafter construction. It creates a movable "cap", which together with the wings – "propellers" – can be turned in the direction of the blowing wind using a massive wooden drawbar. The building was erected on eight oak foundations laid on a field stone wall base. The walls were built in a skeleton-transom structure, boarded and covered with a single layer of shingle. The windmill's drive and transmission mechanism is formed by two wings, a wing shaft, a transmission wheel, a vertical edge shaft, two horizontal edge wheels, a pair of spindles and a pair of coil wheels. The mill's working mechanism consists of millstones, wooden covers and charging hoppers. The cottage from Kobylniki was built in the first half of the 19th century. The wooden, single-bay log building is covered with a straw hip roof. Originally, the oak foundation of the building was placed not on the wall base, but on large field stones laid on the ground. The interior of the building has a chamber room – hall – chamber arrangement. The walls are made of half-beams. The cottage windows are double-leafed with footwall doors, and joist-type boarded ceiling. The room has a stone kitchen with a cover-lid, a bread oven and a heater. The exhibition arranged inside the cottage presents a fragment of a wedding rite related to unveiling and capping ceremony. It was a symbolic transition of a girl, from her maiden status to being a wife – the bride would sit on an inverted bowl, the wreath was removed from her head and a cap was put on, while cutting the braid. Sometimes during this rite, the groomsmen collected donations for the young couple. The equipment of the room where a fragment of the wedding reception is exhibited comes from the interwar period. 59 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

ETHNOGRAPHIC Park in Tokarnia




KRYNICA-ZDRÓJ „PEARL THE POLISH HEALTH-RESORTS” prepared as a part of the project: Discover Beskid Sądecki


PHOTO BY Konrad Rogoziński project: Odkryj Beskid Sądecki

Krynica-Zdrój, known as the „Pearl the Polish health-resorts” is one of the most important resort towns in Poland rich in unique beauty of nature, complex culture and fascinating traditions that has been stealing visitors’ hearts for over 220 years of its existence. Health resorts all over the world are places aimed not only at healing and recreation. These are the places full of social life, culture, where big shots and important politicians meet to establish preponderant decisions among surrounding wonders of nature. Krynica-Zdrój, also known as “Polish Davos” stands up to these standards as well, constituting the centerpiece of Małopolska region.

Krynica is a famous health resort of unusual climate as well as of therapeutic and touristic values. It owes its fame to its outstanding mineral waters thanks to which it started developing as a spa which status it holds even now, restoring health and energy to thousands of people. Those who decide to choose Krynica-Zdrój as the place of their leisure, healing, and entertainment will not regret it and will decide to come back here again. For the whole year, guests’ stays are brightened up by the Spa Orchestra, whereas in August, because of the Jan Kiepura Festival, the spa becomes the capital of operetta. Every year, many events of international importance as well as various political and scientific seminars are held. The most famous of them is the Economic Forum in Krynica.KrynicaZdrój is characterized not only by its healing climate, but also by its unique atmosphere and great inhabitants who, for many years of their experiences, have worked out a characteristic “cult of patients and holidaymakers”. They always welcome them with great joy and kindness. The spa has got a well-grounded social and touristic reputation, both in Poland and abroad. KrynicaZdrój was established in 1547 by Danko from Miastko and it was originally known as “Krzenycze”. In the later period, the development of the town was connected with the discovery of the medicinal properties of the local mineral springs in the 17th century. The nucleus of the spa was the so-called “Little House” built in 1794 which in 1804 started holding first bathhouses.


In 1807 Krynica-Zdrój was officially called a bath spa. The great era of Krynica-Zdrój as a spa was started in 1858 by the activity of Józef Dietl, a Jagiellonian University professor considered the forefather of Polish balneology. In that period, such spa facilities as the Old Mineral Baths, the Old Muddy Baths, the Spa House, the wooden Main Pump Room with the promenade, and various pensions were built. The development of the spa was influenced by building a railway leading to Muszyna in 1876. It was extended in 1911, thanks to which it reached Krynica. The area of Krynica-Zdrój is located in the eastern part of the geographical region called Beskid Sądecki, in the valley of a stream called the Kryniczanka. The “Pearl of all Health-Resorts” is surrounded by forested mountains: Parkowa, Krzyżowa, and Jasiennik. The culmination of the eastern part of Beskid Sądecki is Jaworzyna Krynicka (1114 m above the sea level), the highest point of Krynica-Zdrój municipality. Such mountain tops as Wierch nad Kamieniem (1084 m), Runek (1080 m), and Pusta Wielka (1061 m) are of similar height. The eastern part of Beskid Sądecki also encompasses hills of independent character, like Przysłop (944 m). Jaworzynka (899 m), Huzary (865 m), Szalone (832 m), and the mountain group of Zimne and Dubne between the Poprad and its tributaries: Muszynka and Smereczek, with the highest mountain top Kraczonik (934 m) over Leluchów.

Krynica Zdrój Get in!

From Kraków by a direct train (ca. 5h, 228 km) or direct public bus service (ca. 3h, 150 km) photos: Konrad Rogoziński project: Odkryj Beskid Sadecki


Get around Nikifor's Museum . A museum dedicated to naive art artist Nikifor Krynicki. Museum of Toys 'Bajka' ul. Piłsudskiego 2 Słotwinka mineral water spring (1815) pump-room in Park Słotwiński. Promenade. A beautiful spa promenade with such beautiful landmarks as Stary and Nowy Dom Zdrojowy, Stare and Nowe Łazienki Mineralne sanatoriums and big pump room. Józef and Jan pump room. A beautiful wooden building near Góra Parkowa Mountain Patria. A modernist sanatorium founded by famous Polish tenor – Jan Kiepura Góra Parkowa.

Tourist Information ul. Zdrojowa 4/2 tel. 18 472 55 88 e-mail:

Project PROMOTION Krynica-Zdrój Konrad Rogoziński Project Odkryj Beskid Sądecki

Tourist Information OPENING HOURS: Monday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm Saturdays: 10 am - 13 am Season (July-August, New Year's Eve, winter holidays) Monday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm Saturdays: 10 am - 13 am Sunday: 9 am - 13 am


Krynica Zdrój

Konrad Rogoziński project: Odkryj Beskid Sądecki

Winter stories from BABIA GÓRA

photography: Łukasz Sowiński


EX PERI ENCE "I stand up on the summit, the fog goes apart and falls down and I stand there on the island, surrounded by snow angels illuminated by the yellow colour of the rising sun. Clouds ripple below, while the Tatras rise above them like volcanic cones."

tLP: We are going with Łukasz to Babia Góra in winter. A trip to the highest Polish peak outside the Tatra Mountains is almost a must for all those who love mountains. The ascent in winter in good weather conditions and is probably not technically hard for a properly prepared tourist. Łukasz, it is said that Babia Góra is called 'the queen'. Is this true? And why? ŁS: Winter ascent to Babia Góra is easy in good weather and favourable conditions. Unfortunately, the weather and circumstances are not always favourable for easy hikes. If it were that simple, there would be no fatal accidents on Babia Góra. They call Babia Góra the Queen of Foul Weather. And in fact the weather can change really very quickly there. In winter, the snowfall can add dozens of centimetres of snow in a few hours. In favourable conditions, the summit of Babia Góra may be reached within two and a half hours. When a few dozen centimetres of snow suddenly fall, snow drifts, sometimes a few metres high, are formed and you need to clear the trail for yourself - then the ascent time can be several times longer. On a short winter day it is quite a hindrance. Sometimes, on the trail, there are trees broken under the weight of snow. Going through such obstacles is very tiring. With limited visibility above the forest, you can easily get lost. Recently, the GOPR rescuers (Mountain Volunteer Rescue Service) more and more often are called to look for and bring back the tourists who got lost in the mountains. For a landscape photographer, difficult conditions are usually the most interesting for photographing.

Then the light is the most dynamic, sometimes even dramatic. Photos arouse more interest due to the fact that the most of tourists, for understandable reasons, do not know such views as in such weather they usually stay in the safe insides of guest houses. Also, people in their nature have an element which makes them feel a kind of fascination when something unknown approaches; we like to cross borders, take risks. It often happened that it was necessary to say: I can't do it, I have to turn back. Giving up, letting go is an expression of humility. Babia Góra is nothing terrible in winter, provided that we leave early in the morning, the weather is good, someone walked there earlier and cleared the trail, and during the impending weather breakdown we do not go force-wise, but just let go and return. Climbing in adverse conditions is a risky behaviour. tLP: It is probably not that easy in winter on Babia Góra, is it? It is a mountain massif lying in some distance from others. Without the shield, it is an easy target for all kinds of winds and hurricanes, which, combined with frost, gives a deadly combination. How do you remember your trips? ŁS: There were typical tourist expeditions when I easily reached the summit, climbing up a well-cleared trail. However, sometimes I was in the role of the one that goes in the middle of the night to see the sunrise, clearing the trail after heavy snowfall.

As I mentioned earlier, in the lower parts of Babia Góra, after the weather breaks, there are sometimes broken trees on the trail, either from the wind or from the pressure of heavy snow. Deep snow makes it difficult to move. Sometimes, the trees are covered with snow, therefore the trail markings are not visible, and after a fresh rainfall the path is not visible. In the forest, on the other hand, there may be a problem with navigation. In this part of the mountain the wind is not bothersome yet, usually there is no wind. If there is a strong wind at the foot of the mount, I recommend giving up any further trips because being crushed by a tree or falling branches is not anything we would wish for. Babia Góra is a lonely exposed mountain, which is why the wind often appears there. It can blow out snow from one place, accumulating it in another and therefore creating several-meter-high drifts. Higher, in the places not sheltered by the forest, the wind is even more troublesome. A snow or a rain, falling freely, in stronger wind can be like hundreds of bullets, hitting your eyes and cheeks. Small balls whipping our body for several hours. You cannot make it without a balaclava and goggles. In heavy snowfall, ascending over the level of the forest is often means going into a trap. Visibility drops to several meters, sometimes even less. You can't see the poles marking the trail, there is snow on the ground, so you can't see the path either. The descent, following your own footsteps, turns out to be impossible, because they immediately get covered with the snow and blown with the wind. Icing of the trails, building up during freezing weather, sometimes makes it necessary to use crampons to move around. There is an avalanche danger, but the trails go in such a way that most of the time we are pretty safe, regarding the avalanches. Of course, without stepping on the yellow trail, where the tourist traffic in winter is prohibited. tLP: How does the route to the summit go? Does it lead entirely through the National Park? What can we encounter during the winter trip? Probably not much can be seen there as everything is covered with a thick layer of snow? I've heard of something like the legendary morning on Diablak. What is that? Have you ever seen it with your own eyes? ŁS: Most of the routes run entirely through the National Park. The most popular is the red trail ascent from the Krowiarki Pass. Normally, it takes about two and a half hours to reach the summit. During the first hour of hiking, we take quite a steep climb through the forest. There are practically no views on this section, the passage is quite tiring. Our hardship is compensated when we reach Sokolica (not to be confused with the one in Pieniny). At this point, we immediately see the view of the entire massif of Babia Góra, with a panorama of Zawoja lying below. From that moment, we walk through the forest for a while and then the entire section goes along a ridge with an open view to the east and north and west.


In fact, in this part of the route, not much of vegetation can be seen, because it lies under the snow. But this is a huge advantage of the winter ascent. We move over the dwarf mountain pine, not like in summer along the path between the pines, so the vegetation does not obstruct the views so much. I have always been fascinated with angels. By 'angels' I mean snow 'creatures' which arise from trees clung with freezing rain and snow. They create amazing forms. It is very popular to ascend Babia Góra for the sunrise. Due to the fact that it is a lonely peak, looking in almost every direction from the top, we have a view of another mountain range. The so-called sea of clouds is an amazing phenomenon. When there are clouds in Orawsko-Nowotarska Valley between Babia Góra and the Tatra Mountains, standing above the clouds, we feel as if the Tatra Mountains were an island on the sea. At dawn, it looks very beautiful. I had experienced several dozen summer sunrises on Babia Góra, a little fewer in winter. tLP: What are the main threats when hiking? Apparently you can easily get lost? The descent is probably also not the easiest? ŁS: Difficult navigation, difficulties while moving in deep snow or in icy terrain, strong wind, frost and bitter cold - all of these I have already mentioned earlier. The descent is associated with the same type of risk, while it is easier to slip. Prolonged hiking on a short winter day can end at night. For me, gloves, a hat, a balaclava, goggles, a head lamp and several layers of clothing are necessary equipment. Sometimes crampons or skis are useful as well. And a few kilos of photographic equipment. tLP: Does anything compensate for the inconvenience of a bitter cold? Is it true that Babia Góra is appreciated for extensive panoramas? ŁS: Those who hike in the mountains do not need explanations of why they are go there, they get tired climbing for a few hours to the top. I know this feeling very well, when wading in the snow I carry a backpack with heavy equipment, saying to myself that this is the last time i decided for such an effort. Then I stand up on the summit, the fog goes apart and falls down and I stand there on the island, surrounded by snow angels illuminated by the yellow colour of the rising sun. Clouds ripple below, while the Tatras rise above them like volcanic cones. Behind us, there is Pilsko, slowly flooded with sunlight. In the distance other peaks slowly rise after the night and next to them millions of snow crystals glistening in the sun. I say only: God, how beautiful. The show lasts sometimes for half an hour, sometimes for 15 minutes, sometimes just for five. Short, very short if you want to take good photos. And all this several-hour effort for those few minutes at dawn. Sometimes, the performance takes place behind a veil of clouds and I am not given the chance to watch it at all.

Winter stories from BABIA GÓRA photography: Łukasz Sowiński


Mount Babia, Polish Babia Góra, Slovak Babia Hora, highest mountain (5,659 feet [1,725 m] at Diablok) peak in the Beskid Mountains, on the Slovakia-Poland border and one of the highest peaks in Poland. It is 12 miles (19 km) south-southwest of Sucha Beskidzka. The site of a 7-square-mile (17-square-kilometre) Polish national park, the mountain attracts thousands of visitors to the resort facilities in Sucha Beskidzka.



Gentle from the south, steep from the north, Babia Góra is home to bear, lynx, wolf and other species; as well as alpine flora endemic at this altitude. The first attempts to protect the area were made in the 1930s. In 1933 the Nature Reserve of Babia Góra was established on the Polish side. Later, in 1954, the Babia Góra National Park (Babiogórski Park Narodowy) was established with an area of 17.04 km². In 1976 it became one of the first Biosphere Reserves in the world. For a long time Babia Góra National Park was the smallest of the Polish national parks. In 1997 it was enlarged to 33.92 km² and a buffer zone was created of 84.37 km². Within the park, 10.62 km² is under strict protection. There are calls for strengthening of cross-border cooperation with Slovakia to better protect the fragile environment of the mountain.


Winter stories from BABIA GóRA photography: Łukasz Sowiński


Babia Góra was first mentioned in the 15th century chronicle of Jan Długosz. It was first plotted on a map in 1558. Until the end of the 17th century most of the available information on the mountain came from folklore. According to folk tales, the mountain was the location of the witches' sabbath. The first known ascent was made in 1782 by the court astronomer of King Stanisław August Poniatowski, Jowin Fryderyk Bończa Bystrzycki. The period of scientific investigations began in the second half of the 19th century.



Babia Góra is sometimes nicknamed Matka Niepogód (Mother of Bad Weather). Located far from any other mountains of similar height that would provide a natural barrier, it is very susceptible to weather changes. Snow can remain on the northern slopes and in narrow gorges until summer. In May 2016, a climber was killed by lightning while attempting to descend the mountain when a thunderstorm approached.


Winter stories from BABIA GÓRA photography: Łukasz Sowiński

The Owl Mountains a conversation with Adam Pachura CEO of Telewizja Sudecka links: Winter in the Sowie Mountains Spring in the Sowie Mountains Summer in the Sowie Mountains Please see the autumn version with Olga Tokarczuk and Robert Więckiewicz, how beautifully they talk about our mountains. (film premiere October 30, 2019) Olga appears from 7.17 m "Walim... My Little Homeland"

We invite you every day at


Together with Telewizja Sudecka (Sudecka TV), we invite you for a trip to the Sowie Mountains. However, before we set off on the route, I would like the organizers of this trip to introduce themselves a bit.

TLP: Actually, you started your activity in 1994, and quite quickly became probably an important element of communication in the region. It is said that Sudecka TV is everywhere where something interesting is happening. You participate in social and cultural events of the entire Dzierżoniów and Kłodzko poviats. I would like to ask about your mission. Why do you create your programs, what are your goals? Who creates Sudecka TV? AP TV Sudecka: Sudecka TV was created from the passion and commitment of people who want to act for the benefit of the local community. We've managed to combine a passion for working in the media with business; he have been doing it for over 25 years. For years, we were limited only to the range of the cable TV operator who broadcast our programme, which is why we were often called "cable TV".

Today, we are a full shareholder of the media market in the region and thanks to the Internet our materials can be viewed around the world. Our mission is to create television for people and among people. We try to show what is good and what we are proud of as residents of the region. We prepare materials from events that are not important enough for many "big" television stations, but only with us you can see your child making their first steps on the stage, or grandparents who celebrate the 50th anniversary of their marriage. People need television where they can see themselves and their loved ones as well as the topics from their backyard, and this is exactly what Sudecka TV is like. TLP: Looking for materials from the Sowie Mountains, the most often I used to come across yours. This is probably not accidental. You have received many awards, among others for the promotion of the region, including materials in the category: My Little Homeland, 12 Pearls of the Kłodzko Land, Wałbrzych and Sowie Mountains. What role does Sudecka TV play in promoting the region?

AP TV Sudecka: Sudecka TV has unique tools and opportunities for promoting the region. Video is currently the leading and invaluable medium for transferring information. If we "wrap" the program well, we quickly gain a viewer interested in the topic. The Sowie Mountains, Kłodzko Valley, the entire Wałbrzych Land, is a magical region packed with tourist products. All you need to do is to show these places from a good perspective, pack professionally and the viewership will be impressive. This year, we have also been awarded the nationwide "Crystal Screen" award for promoting the region, thanks to the material entitled "Eyeball to eyeball with a wolf in the Sowie Mountains". The award ceremony was held during the nationwide gala of the Polish Chamber of Electronic Communication in Sopot.

TLP: In addition to news, reportage and sightseeing materials, you also create historical programs that familiarize viewers and audiences with the history of the Kłodzko land and surrounding areas. What materials, and what is associated with it – which awards, are you particularly proud of? What role do they play in integrating the inhabitants and, more broadly, in building a certain awareness and belonging?

AP TV Sudecka: This is a very difficult and interesting topic about national identity and how our region was treated. For decades after the war, nobody considered this area Polish. People would come here for plunder, to take whatever they could, to destroy, because everything here was believed to be German. The change in attitude is revised by next generations, but older residents still call the tower located on the top of Wielka Sowia as "Bismarck Tower". We cannot forget about the cultural heritage left behind by our predecessors. One should also be aware of the influx of social multiculturalism, which for years did not accept the identity of the place of living. Łukasz Kazek talked about it in an interesting way in the material we prepared, entitled "Walim... My Little Homeland." We are proud of the project, implemented currently under the name: "Unique Beauty of the Natural Environment of the Sowie Mountains" to which we managed to encourage many distinguished guests such as our Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk, actor from Nowa Ruda Robert Więckiewicz, Kasia Glinka – actress from Dzierżoniów or well-known journalist and presenter Artur Orzech. The project worth nearly a million zlotys was divided into four seasons, from winter to autumn. Importantly, 85% of the project was financed by the European Union under the Regional Operational Program for the Lower Silesian, and the beneficiary is the Dzierżoniów Land Association.

THE OWL MOUNTAINS photos by Telewizja Sudecka Located about 75 km south of the regional capital Wrocław, the picturesque Owl Mountains are a popular destination for hikers and day-trippers. At the foot of the range are well-known tourist places, like: Rzeczka, Walim at the Wielka Sowa massif, Sokolec, Jugów or Sierpnica. The mountains are covered by a network of tourist trails, the most attractive of these, the red trail, leading through most of range. The favourite tourist destinations of the Owl Mountains include: the Stone Tower on Wielka Sowa and the viewing tower on Kalenica, Fort Srebrna Góra, Grodno Castle in Zagórze Śląskie, the adit complexes of Project Riese near Walim and the Mining Museum in Poland.

The favourite tourist destinations of the Owl Mountains include: the Stone Tower on Wielka Sowa and the viewing tower on Kalenica, Fort Srebrna Góra. The Owl Mountains cover an area of about 200 square kilometres and stretch over 26 km (16 mi) between the historic Lower Silesian region and Kłodzko Land. Apart from the main ridge, the subdivisions of Garb Dzikowca and Wzgórza Wyrębińskie can be distinguished.The range is bounded by the valley of the Bystrzyca river in the northwest, forming a natural border with the adjacent Waldenburg Mountains (Góry Wałbrzyskie). In the southeast, the border is marked out by Srebrna Góra pass, separating them from the Bardzkie Mountains (Góry Bardzkie). In the north, the border is on Kotlina Distrabiekenstein and in the south on Obniżenie Noworudzkie and Włodzickie Hills. In the southwest, the broad Kłodzko Valley stretches to the Table Mountains (Góry Stołowe), the Stone Mountains (Góry Kamienne) and the border with the Czech Republic. Seen from the Silesian Lowlands in the northeast, the Owl Mountains form a


comparatively steep edge of the Central Sudetes, though the range is very diversified in terms of height. The highest peaks are Wielka Sowa (Great Owl), at 1014m and Kalenica 946m with their observation towers. Other peaks reach heights from about 600m to 980m above sea level. The Precambrian gneiss rocks of the Owl Mountains constitute the oldest part of the Sudetes and are among the oldest in Europe. Other deposits include migmatite rocks, to a lesser extend also amphibolite, serpentinite, granulite and pegmatite. Except for the summit clearings and the mountain passes, the Owl Mountains represent the spruce-clad type of mountains. There may be also observed a rare natural occurrence of beaches and European yew.

The Owl Mountains photo archive of Telewizja Sudecka

photo archive of Telewizja Sudecka


The Owl Mountains photo archive of Telewizja Sudecka

Żywiec, Milówka Forefathers' Eve


Żywiec Forefathers' Eve by

DANIEL FRANEK PHOTO REPORTAGE LINK TO MY PORTAL WHERE I PRESENT ALL OF MY PICTURES Here you can find materials from 2015 from all of these events as well as lots of others.

AUTHOR'S NOTE Daniel Franek – a native of Żabnica in the Żywiec poviat. Professional photographer. He has been dealing with photography since the age of 16. A winner of the main awards in photo competitions: "My Żywiec Paradise" (for landscape photos), "Miracle of Nature" (for the photography of "Hala Zaprzelina") and "Silesian village in the eye of the lens" (for "Bacówka" and "Lossod"). Founder and creator of the "Photojournalist's Eye" profile, where, since 2015, he has published photos of events taking place in the Żywiec Beskids and Cieszyn Silesia. Official photographer of the Beskid Culture Week. He works with many publishers, portals and folklore groups.

TLP: Daniel – you call yourself a photo reporter, running a Facebook profile titled Okiem Fotoreportera [In the Photojournalist's Eye]. Most (if not all) of your documents relate to the Żywiec region. You probably come from here and maybe thanks to that you managed to get to know your land, its customs and culture well? DF: That's true. I come from the Żywiec region and more specifically from a small town in the Żywiec poviat, Żabnica. Here I was born and brought up, learning about the culture of my region since I was a child. I have been photographing for almost 10 years and folklore, culture and our traditions have always been present in my photos. In fact, it is mainly the folklore of the Żywiec Beskids. Certainly the fact that I personally know people who create a kind of culture of my region has contributed to my better understanding of it. TLP: Why did you decide to report photography and not, for example, on quite common landscape photography? There is no shortage of beautiful landscapes in the Żywiec region? Or maybe photojournalism seems to you simply more interesting, more vivid in its form, content and message?

DF: Initially, my photography focused on the landscape of the Żywiec region, I was the author of several exhibitions on this subject, but the motto of my photography is that "in photography, the most important is the man". I lacked the human element in the beautiful landscapes of the Żywiec Beskids. And an issue which I chose as my main topic several years ago has the man as the most important element. It's the man who cultivates traditions and creates culture. In addition, photography of folklore, including among others, Gody Żywieckie, the Week of Beskid Culture or other smaller or larger events related to tradition give me the opportunity to take, in my opinion, more interesting photos Human emotions, colourful clothes, movement – this is what makes photojournalism much more interesting for me. TLP: In this issue of Magazine, we present your photos from a rather peculiar event – Dziady Żywieckie [Żywiec Forefathers' Eve]. The name itself indicates that it is a characteristic event for this particular region of Poland. Personally, I have not encountered a similar 'staging' (if that is the right word) anywhere else. Do you know where this tradition came from and why it is so different from the most famous form of Christmas Carols?


Ĺťywiec Forefathers' Eve Photos: Daniel Franek

That's true. "Dziady" from the Żywiec region is a phenomenon on a Polish scale. Perhaps in other parts of the country a similar rite can be found, however, its scale and momentum is the largest here, in the Żywiec region. "Disguises", because the carollers are also called this name here, visit houses on New Year's Eve and New Year, playing a kind of performance combined with making wishes, that is proper carolling. They were to herald a good year, all kinds of prosperity and success. the event of "Dziady" occurs only in some of the towns west of Żywiec, namely: Żywiec – Zabłocie, Cięcina, Węgierska Górka, Żabnica, Ciśc, Milówka, Kamesznica, Laliki, Szary, Zwardoń as well as in the part of Koniaków that once belonged to the Żywiec poviat. The performers of "Dziady" dress up as "horses" but they do not resemble animals, this is only their common name. Carollers playing the character of a "Horse", dressed as "horses" carry on the shoulder a frame with attached bells and a small head of a horse, covered with a patterned throw. "Horses" always appear in pairs, from 2 to 6 in individual performing teams. They have the main role in the rite, as in "walking with a goat" or "turon" where at the climax they fall to the ground to revive miraculously a few seconds later. Another very important characters are "Bears". Their role is to show off, presenting general physical fitness in jumping, tumbles, etc. "Bears" girded with chains are harnessed to sleighs or farm tools, blocks, etc. The "bear" costume was much more like a real animal. The person responsible for the movement of "horses" and for the way their show looks like is called a "gypsy" or "bollard". And in my hometown, Żabnica, there is also a "Commandant," a person in uniform with numerous badges who is the team leader. The second permanent group of participants of the rite is constituted by extrasensory figures: "death", "devils" and, to some extent, "Macidule" who are also called "Sznurkorze". "Death "always occurs in the mask, the end of the mask can take the shape of a pyramid or be flat. Death is sometimes dressed in a white dress with bones marked in black paint. She usually wears a while cloak covering her back. "Death" usually accosts bystanders by threatening them with a scythe. Sometimes in the performance one can notice significant behaviour of "death"; while the "horses" lie down, there is general silence, the band stops playing, then "death" shows an unusual excitement, running among the lying characters, weeping: "there is no life, there is no life". There are also from two to several "devils" in each performing group, most often in pairs, one of them is usually dressed in black, the other in red. These characters always appear in masks, often with impressive sheep horns. In their hands they hold long forks.

Their role is to spread confusion among both spectators and other participants of the rite. You could talk about the characters in the ritual of Dziady – Forefathers' Eve for a long time, I briefly told only about the most important things. The show is accompanied by music. Very lively, brisk, melodies making spectators to move rhythmically – played on "heligonka" and tapped on a "wakat" (these are both the names of the folk music instruments, commonly used in the Żywiec region). One could talk about "Dziady" for a long time. If anyone is keenly interested in what this rite looks like, they must visit the region of Żywiec and especially Żywiec itself and Milówka during 51. 'Gody Żywieckie'. TLP: In the introduction to the presentation of your photos we have included a text somewhat explaining the phenomenon of Dziady. What do you think is the significance of the tradition for the culture of the region? Is this tradition still cultivated, needed by the inhabitants and are there young successors of the traditions? Do you think this is one of the elements building the identity of the region? DF: We are lucky that there are people who cultivate this tradition as thanks to them it is still alive and present in the Old and New Year on the streets of Żywiec region. In the carol singing groups we can meet men (because only men can be participants in this colourful event), aged from 6 to 60. It is nothing surprising to see the entire generations, grandparents, sons and grandsons, so we don't have to be afraid that we will run out of successors. In my opinion, the tradition of Żywiec Forefathers is something so deeply rooted in the region that people who do not actively participate in it, cannot imagine the turn of the year without "Dziady". While the carollers wander down the villages, the residents go out to the streets, open their homes to them, invite them to the gardens, and watch what the costume guys show. TLP: Referring a bit to the previous question, could you tell us a bit about your region? It lies a bit out of the way, somewhat between major centres such as Krakow and Zakopane, and on the other hand it is probably somewhat connected with Upper Silesia? I guess, because of that, you may feel a bit 'avoided'... Is the Żywiec region subject to cultural influences of other neighbouring regions or is it an independent and strong organism? What traditions are interwoven there? Can we talk about the distinct cultural separateness of the Żywiec Beskids? DF: We are lucky that we do not give in to foreign influences. We have our tradition, our rituals, our culture we cultivate. 95 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

This is probably due to the fact how strongly we have been associated with our region for generations. This is perfectly demonstrated by the tradition of Żywiec "Dziady" or the multitude of dances and melodies in Żywiec folklore. Both our costumes and folk dances are clearly different from those of Podhale or Babia Góra. We do not feel avoided. Our region, both in terms of culture and landscape, is very interesting even for tourists. TLP: Our magazine has a tourist and cultural character, so I have to ask about the main attractions of the region, but since you are a photojournalist, let's focus on those 'outside landscape' ones. What would you recommend to those arriving in the Żywiec Beskids? Maybe Żywieckie Gody in Milówka or Redyk in Korbielów or something else? Can they be attractive to tourists – including those from outside Poland? DF: Being a photojournalist allows me to participate in most of the events organized in the Żywiec region. Certainly one of the biggest "events" organized here is the Festival of Polish Highlanders' Folklore in Żywiec. It is organised as part of the Beskid Culture Week. It is a 5-day folklore festival during which you can see the best highlander bands in Poland. It always takes place at the turn of July and August in the Amphitheatre in Żywiec. Another big event is called "Posiady gawędziarskie" (which can be literally translated as chatters' meetings) the Competition for playing traditional folk instruments. Another "feast" for lovers of folklore and tradition. During this event, taking place in Jeleśnia, Milówka and Wieprz you can listen to old "chats", that is folk tales and the music played on archaic instruments including the shepherds' ones. Gody Żywieckie" and "Highlander Carnival" are the events taking place in Żywiec and Milówka during the Carnival. These are the events closely related to the topic we talked about. Gody Żywieckie" and "Highlander Carnival" are the events taking place in Żywiec and Milówka during the Carnival. These are the events closely related to the topic we talked about.

While Dziady conduct their carols performances in the villages at the turn of Old and New Year's, a festival is organized during the carnival period. Hence a competition, a review for carol singing groups where the Jury assesses compliance with tradition, topic, etc. In spring, of course, we have our Redyki (which is a traditional name for sheep transhumance) taking place in the mountains. The most popular is the one in Korbielów, but there are also some in other places, e.g. in Radziechowy. Redyk is a rite of leading sheep into the halls. And if there is Redyk, there is Lossod as well. This is the rite of bringing sheep from the mountain pastures before winter. A popular "Łossod" is the one taking place at Hala Boracza in Żabnica, usually on the third Saturday of September. In fact, there are many events in the Żywiec region. Almost every weekend something happens somewhere here. Are these events attractive? Naturally. For people who want to get to know our tradition and culture, for which I always encourage, such events are the perfect option. The organization of these events is at the highest level, and the opportunity to experience tradition is invaluable. Spontaneous dances, lively music, especially colourful women's costumes, on the other hand archaic music, rituals associated with grazing sheep or chords handed down for generations. All of this is certainly interesting for tourists from Poland and abroad.

Ĺťywiec Forefathers' Eve Photos: Daniel Franek

Photo: Daniel Franek

Photo: Daniel Franek

Photo: Daniel Franek

Żywiec Forefathers' Eve (also known as Gody Żywieckie or Dziady Żywieckie)

Photos: Daniel Franek

The custom is connected to the general traditions of kolędowanie, in which people stroll across a town or village dressed in symbolic costumes and sing traditional carols, dance, perform, sometimes pull harmless pranks. In exchange they get food, drinks, or small money. The annual parade in Milówka comes also with competitions organized by a local cultural centre which attract groups from various villages of the whole region, each having their own characteristic costumes.


Daniel Franek


Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire. part 2 Narrated by: Ania Olesińska

Photography by: Łukasz Sowiński

"Przysli my tu po kolyndzie" We came here with a carol The former Orava Christmas tradition

The Christmas period is associated with an extraordinary wealth of customs, rituals and symbolism in ancient folk culture. It was a very important time, and one could say it might be regarded a breakthrough in the beliefs of our ancestors. Each specific activity that the hosts performed on these days had symbolic meaning. It was a prophecy, and also a procedure to ensure that prosperity and wealth would not leave the household. One of the old Christmas rituals in Orava was carolling. The groups of carollers, consisting mainly of men, used to visit homes with their carols from St. Stephen Day until the Epiphany. The main purpose of the ceremonial group was to ensure the wellbeing of the hosts for the next year by making wishes, giving speeches or presenting genre scenes. The essence of carolling was the ceremonial exchange of gifts for wishes accepted as auspicious omen for good harvest and good luck. The carollers, as a payment for their efforts, often received food; they were offered homebaked goods, and later money also became a form of payment for a carol. Carollers’ costumes, as well as their behaviour or the ritual texts they recited were full of clear fertility symbolism and faith in the magical causative power

of the spoken words. Each ritual character, depending on the form of the carol, served as a mediator connecting the unreal, heavenly, mystical world with the real world. It was deeply believed that the arrival of carollers to the house guaranteed prosperity, but if they were refused to be let into the house, the event could possibly draw on a set of failures and poverty to the hosts throughout the next year. In Orava, people used to go carolling with a Star. These were groups of boys, usually bachelors, whose attribute was a handmade star. The star was made of colourful papers glued onto a wooden spatial frame. There was a candle inside. The star was placed on a long pole and rotated by hand or a crank. The group of carollers, apart from telling their wishes to the hosts, mainly sang the carols. The oldest form of carolling were wishing carols, referring directly to each household member. They were farming carols, maiden carols or the carols written for bachelors or servants. They were sung in a specific hierarchy and containing texts written for the recipient. In Orava, people also used to carol with a nativity crib. 107 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND

The carolling group, re-created by the Małolipnicanie Band from Lipnica Mała, and photographed by Łukasz Sowiński, was a group of carollers with a turon. Here, I would like to pause for a while with a detailed description of the group, to fully reflect its character. It was one of the groups that did not refer to religious traditions, however, it was presented and played almost throughout the Carpathians. The group in the Orava region included: a turonhorned creature with a huge snapping mouth, lined with red cloth; often nails or real animal teeth were attached so that when moving the jaws with a string, you hear the sound of the mouth closing. There was a drape or leather of the animal attached to the head under which there was one of the carollers who in a continuous leaning position plays an untamed animal, which at some point, falls to the ground. The fall of turon is a symbolic death of the earth and its rebirth, this is an extraordinary representation depicting vegetation and continuity of the life on earth.

An old man is another key ceremonial figure. Despite the miserable appearance: patched old coats or old sheepskin, tied up at the waist with straw, an old sheepskin on the head, sometimes a hump on the back and the bag to which he collected the "carol" – he played an extremely important role. He was the guide of the whole group, made wishes and was usually the first to ask the hosts for permission to enter the house. Gypsy-man and gypsy-woman as well as an old woman and a Jew also used to perform in the group. The band was sometimes accompanied by a band made of violins and basses, or later an accordion. Later, the devil and death characters joined the group as well. The Christmas carol began with the question of whether the hosts would accept carollers If the consent was given, the carollers recited texts e.g. "Przyśli my tu po kolyndzie Niek wom na przykroś nie będzie A cy będzie cy nie będzie Po kolyndzie chłodzo wsyndzie Pon Jezus się narodzioł, po kolyndzie tys chłodzioł" ”We came here with a carol Not to make you feel upset Whatever will be, will be They go with carols everywhere Baby Jesus, once born, used to carol as well”


The shows presented by the disguise performers visiting houses with animal creatures were humorous, except the situations when the turon fell to the ground. So, the turon led by the gypsy or shepherd broke free from the guardian, played tricks, accosted the girls present in the house, and the shepherd, trying to tame him, often gave the viewers good reason for joy and fun. One of the most important elements of the show were the wishes of the old man, whom while reciting, sprinkled oats as a symbol of abundance. After the role play, the carollers asked for their "payment" (called a carol as well), often in the form of a singing request. „Dejce ze nom dejcie, co nom mocie dać ć Momy ciynkie kozusiynta, zimno nom tu w palusiynta Hej gaździnko hej kolynde nom dej" Bo nom tys tu zimno pod okiynkiym sta

"Give us what you are supposed to As it is cold to stand here, outside the window We have thin coats, our fingers freeze Hey, landlady, give us our payment"

If the carollers noticed the host's avarice, while they were leaving, they used to sing: „Jakoście nom nadali , nadali Tak wom Pon Bog nawali" "As you gave us the Lord will give to you"

However, they always thanked for each donation received, singing: „Za kolynde dziynkujymy Scynścio zdrowio wom zycymy Na tyn Nowy Rok" "Thank you for the carol We wish you health and happiness for the New Year”

Today, traditional carol groups walking around the houses have disappeared in Orava. Regional teams performing in this area try to remember and revive them. It is good to hear that the instructors of these groups care for the continuous cultural message and support for tradition through the education of the young generation. What is also worth emphasizing and appreciating, is the voluntary commitment of people such as Łukasz Sowiński, who selflessly devote their private time to immortalizing customs and rituals in photographs. This is an amazing document for future generations. , Ania Olesinska

"We came here with a carol Not to make you feel upset"

photo: Łukasz Sowiński


Saint Nicholas Day and Christmas tradition Sculpture “St. Nicholas” Digitalisation: RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project public domain

Date of production: 4th quarter of the 14th century Place of creation: Małopolska Province, Poland Dimensions: height 117 cm, width 30 cm, circuit 80 cm Museum: Museum of Independence in Myślenice Technique: sculpture, polychrome, hollowing Material: wood Object copyright: Museum of Independence in Myślenice

The figure is cut at the back and deeply hollowed (wall sculpture). Saint Nicholas is presented frontally, with a slightly arched silhouette, tilted to the side. Neither forearm of the statue, unfortunately, have survived, but we can guess that, according to his iconography, he could have held a crosier in his right hand, and, perhaps, a book with three spheres in the left . He has an oval face with shallowly carved features and a simple profile of a big nose, surrounded by a grey beard with a textured structure. The sides of the face are covered with hair strongly twisted in curls. Tehere is a mitre on his head with lappets falling onto the shoulders. The saint is wearing episcopal attire; at the bottom, there is a visible fragment of an abundantly draped white alb and of a slightly shorter yellow surplice. On top of these, a red chasuble has been placed with a characteristic 14th century (around 1400) cut; its width reaches the elbows, and the vestment features a column with a cross, with diagonally raised arms. The fabric fits tightly to the body in the manner of wet garments, reflecting the silhouette's posture; it is draped in four bowl-shaped folds at the front, while, at shoulder height, it is draped in cascades.Saint Nicholas lived at the turn of the 3rd and 4th centuries and was the bishop of the city of Mira (in the southern part of Asia Minor), which is why he is presented iconographically in garments and with insignia corresponding to his episcopal rank (compare with the figure of Saint Nicholas in the Triptych of Saint Mary Magdalene from Moszczenica Niżna near Stary Sącz). All that we know concerning the history of the statue is that, in 1748, it was still in the parish church in Pcim, in the district of Myślenice.

Polish Santa Claus tradition explained

Every opportunity is good when it comes to gift-giving, and if you have been a good boy or girl, you may expect small presents on December 6th – the official celebration of Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. This means, that Polish children are visited by him twice every December. Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve are a popular custom in Poland. Who most often brings the presents that we find under the Christmas tree on December 24? Every region has its own tradition. Santa Claus, Father Christmas (called also Gwiazdor), the Star or maybe the Angel or Baby Jesus – the choice is big! Is the dilemma – who brings gifts for Christmas Eve – possible to be resolved at all? Nothing indicates it and probably there is no point in making efforts. After all, Santa Claus already brought presents on December 6, it is obvious that the Angel will put them under the Christmas tree! All of that happens in lots of Polish homes. Let's argue about the names with the tongue in cheek, let's remember the meaning of this habit instead – Gifts on Christmas Eve are presented to our loved ones along with the wishes of happiness and good luck throughout the coming year. SANTA CLAUS A well-known, honest old man with a white beard who may enjoy his peak of popularity on December 6. It is the most, let's call it – nationwide, because he can be met regardless of the region of the country. However, there always remains the problem of explaining to the youngest ones why he comes twice a year. Most of the little ones don't worry about it, though. But is Santa Claus a saint? The above question is only seemingly strange. In today's world, dominated by consumerism and mass culture, ancient traditions change, not to say – get distorted. It also happened to Saint Nicholas, who in the general consciousness transformed from a Christian saint into a fat, hearty man delivering cola for Christmas, that is – Santa Claus. It is worth recalling the figure of a real Saint Nicholas, i.e. a Christian bishop. Saint Nicholas known as Nicholas of Mira lived in the years 280345 (or 352) in Lycia, in today's Turkey. When his parents died, Nicholas inherited the estate, which he willingly shared with those in need. His life and the miracles he was believed to have done became the subject of numerous hagiographical stories. One od them is a story of three daughters, who could get married thanks to the money for dowry he brought and left for them at night, which saved the girls from being sent to the brothel.

There is also a legend according to which Nicholas' prayer saved some fishermen from the inevitable drowning during a violent storm. And that is why he is also honoured as the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. When Nicholas was elected as a bishop of the city of Mira, he won the hearts of the faithful with pastoral zeal and concern for their material needs. Nicholas of Mira is worshiped by both Catholics and Orthodox. St Nicholas' Day, according to the Gregorian calendar is on December 6, while on the Julian calendar – on December 19. Saint Nicholas is depicted in the costume of a Latin or Greek rite bishop. His attributes include: angel, angel with mitre, bread, three children or young men in a bulb, three apples, three golden balls on a book or in the palm of the hand, a crosier, a book, an anchor, a purse with money, three purses, a ship, a sack of presents. In Poland, the cult of the saint was also popular, as evidenced by the number of around 327 of Nicholas' churches present today! His call is present in the name of three cathedral churches in Elbląg, Kalisz and in Bielsko-Biała. It is also worth mentioning the beautiful basilica of St. Nicholas in Gdańsk, which dates back to the 12th century. GWIAZDOR (FATHER CHRISTMAS) Usually associated with carollers, and the name Gwiazdor comes from the star ('gwiazda') they carry. Traditionally dressed in a sheepskin and a fur hat, although today Gwiazdors, without any embarrassment, are squeezed into Santa's outfits. He is the most popular in Greater Poland, Kashubia and Pomerania. Gwiazdor is known for asking the youngest of Christmas carols, poems and songs before giving a present. ANGEL He can be demanding, just like Gwiazdor, but he works mainly in Lesser Poland and Subcarpathian region. BABY JESUS Baby or Baby Jesus – that is, the new-born Jesus, operates mainly in Upper Silesia. STAR Christmas Star – because we wait for the first star and it gives us the presents. Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, on December 6th it is always thoughtful to give a small gift to your little Polish friend, of course if you have one. POLISH PRAYER TO ST NICHOLAS: “Let Saint Nicholas teach us how to share with the poor and love the little and the suffering ones with our words and deeds. Let us be the witnesses of the Lord Jesus on the path of our lives, shining bright as the paragons of virtue. Amen.”

Photo: Gregor Laubsch

' Kamila Rosinska

Born in Łask, has lived in Sieradz for many years. A mother, a visual artist, a photographer, a teacher, a curator of photo exhibitions. She graduated from the Leon Schiller National Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź, at the Cinematography and Television Production Department with a specialization in Film, TV production and photography. She also graduated from the Academy of Humanities and Economics in the field of pedagogy. A winner of numerous photographic awards, both in the country and abroad. Currently, also a curator of photo exhibitions at the Linhartovy Castle Gallery in the Czech Republic. She has participated in art exhibitions in Poland and abroad. Her passion is creating Idyllic Children's Staging, creation and reference to tradition. The way we feed our tastes and shape our personality is the result of our visions and subjective perception of the world. Work with children is her conscious choice. She says that children are brilliant in all their simplicity, they are honest, true and very authentic, and if you can still work with them, you can create many interesting projects, while providing great fun for your small models. Working with a child requires special predispositions – the ability to make contact and to show openness to the model. It's like chess - you have to predict your model's moves, and once you make a move (or take a photo), you can't go back. In addition to idyllic and fairy-tale children's creations, Rosińska also creates more abstract, surreal pictures that are exhibited and sold in art galleries. Visual communication is very important to her. Currently, one of the exhibitions in which she participates together with her colleagues from the Polish National Film School in Łódź, "Transmission Fields", inspired by the work of the artist, their master Professor Józef Robakowski, can be seen until the end of December in Kraków at the Pauza Art Gallery. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/INSCENIZACJE WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/SIELSKIE_INSCENIZACJE




Christmas tree many decades ago replaced for good the native tradition of placing a sheaf of straw in the room during the holiday season. Poles have different opinions about what decoration should be placed on the top of the Christmas tree. You can see stars, angels or a decorative cap made of glass or metal that lengthens the top of the tree. 113 TRAVEL.LOVEPOLAND


the legend of Sir Twardowski A legend based on folklore. Earliest recognition: 1495, Płock best known versions: Master Twardowski, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski. Published in 1840 A Fairy Tale About Sir Twardowski by Artur Oppman. Published in 1926

original illustration for travel.lovePoland Magazine by: Bernadett Urbanovics, Canada photography of Rzym Tavern in Sucha Beskidzka by Krzysztof Masiuk


Sir Twardowski was by birth a nobleman. He dreamed and desired to be wiser than other, honest folks, and to discover an elixir against death; for of all things he feared to die. He had learnt in an old book the art of calling demons into his presence. He left Cracow, in which city he was a doctor of medicine, secretly at midnight, and came to Podgórze, where he began his magical arts to summon the demon from the deep. The evil spirit soon appeared. As was customary in those days, the two entered into a covenant. The demon knelt on the ground and wrote out a bond, which Twardowski signed with his own blood, squeezed out of the third finger of his left hand. The chief condition of the covenant was this: the demon should have no power over the body or soul of Twardowski unless he could catch him in Rome. By virtue of the bond executed between them, Twardowski commanded the services of the demon, and he ordered him to collect all the silver in Poland, to bury it at Olkusz and to cover it well over with sand. The obedient servant did as he was bid. Hence the celebrated silver mines of Olkusz. Then Twardowski ordered the evil spirit to bring a great rock to Pieskowa Skala, to set it on its sharpest point in the earth, and there to leave it forever. The obedient servant at once obeyed the command.

Twardowski fell in love with a young lady, and sought her in marriage. But she had a curious whim of keeping an insect confined in a bottle, and said that the man who could guess what creature it was should be her husband. Twardowski disguised himself as a beggar, and presented himself before the young lady. She held up the bottle at a distance, and asked him: “What kind of creature is this – worm or snake?” “It is a bee, miss,” answered Twadrowski. He was right; and he married the young lady. But they made a strange couple. Madame Twardowski sold all kinds of earthenware in a mud hut on the marketplace at Cracow. Her husband would sometimes pass that way attired like a wealthy nobleman, and he would then order his numerous servants to break his wife’s wares into pieces. When the woman, in her fury, cursed him, his servants, and all about her, Twardowski, seated in his fine carriage, enjoyed his frolic the more, and would burst into loud laughter. After some time, when Twardowski was sated with pleasure, he went one day into the depths of a forest without his instruments of magic. As he there sat, buried in thought, the demon suddenly appeared to him, and demanded that he should at once set out for Rome. The magician, enraged at the demand, drove the evil spirit from before him by a single word of a powerful incantation. But the fiend, gnashing his teeth with fury, pulled a large pine-tree up by the roots and struck Twardowski with such violence on the legs that he broke one of them. Twardowski was lamed for life; and from that hour was nicknamed, and commonly known as, “Gameleg.” At last the demon grew tired of waiting for the soul of Twardowski. He devised a stratagem to entrap him. He assumed the shape of a gentleman's footman, went to Twardowski, who was then greatly renowned as a physician, and begged him to come to his master, who stood in great need of his help. Twardowski proceeded in all speed with the messenger to a neighbouring village, not knowing that in this village was a tavern called Rome. No sooner had he entered this tavern than a large flock of crows and owls sat down on the roof, and filled the air with dreadful croaks and screams. Twardowski saw at once how the matter stood. Trembling with fear he seized a newly baptised infant in his arms from the cradle in which it lay, and began to nurse it. The demon soon made his appearance. Although finely attired – he wore a three-cornered cocked hat, a dress coat, long waistcoat, tight breeches, and shoes with buckles – he was recognised at once, for his horns were visible above his hat, and his cloven feet stuck out of his shoes. | 23

The demon was about to seize Twardowski, when he perceived a difficulty – the magician held in his arms a sinless infant, over which the demon had no possible claim. But the fiend did not lose his wits. He approached Twardowski with the utmost composure, and said to him: “You are at least a gentleman; remember, “Verbum nobile debet esse stabile.” Twardowski saw that he could not escape; so he laid the infant in the cradle, and disappeared with his terrible companion up the chimney. The flock of crows and owls screamed with joy. But Twardowski, although carried with great rapidity into the air, did not lose his consciousness or presence of mind. He was borne up so high that villages appeared no bigger than gnats, towns looked of the size of flies, and Cracow itself like two spiders. He looked down upon the earth, and sorrow filled his heart. There he had left all that was dear to him. When he had arrived at a height which neither the hawk nor the Carpathian eagle ever attained, he made a tremendous effort, and in a weak voice began to sing a hymn. It was a hymn to the Virgin Mary which he had composed when he was young and innocent. He knew nothing then of the Black Art, and used to sing the hymn daily. Although he sang with all the strength he possessed, his voice seemed lost in the air. But some shepherds who were tending their flocks on the mountain side, just beneath him, heard the hymn, and looked up, wondering, into the sky to learn whence came those sacred words; for his voice, instead of ascending and being lost in the air, descended to the earth, that human souls might hear it. Twardowski sang the hymn to the end, and found to his astonishment that his upward flight was arrested, and that he remained suspended in the air in the same spot. His companion had disappeared. Then he heard a voice from a dark cloud which said, – “Thus you will remain suspended in the air until the day of judgment. ”Where his upward course was arrested there he still remains. But his voice is no longer heard.

Not many years ago, old people who remembered his story, would point out on bright nights a dark spot in the sky as the body of Twardowski, awaiting the day of judgment.

Suchej Beskidzkia, Krzysztof Masiuk

The rock still stands as it was first set up, and is called the Hawk’'s Rock. In a word, whatever Twardowski desired he could at once obtain. He could ride on a painted horse, and fly in the air without wings. When he travelled he would seat himself on a cock, and gallop on his way faster than on horseback. He would proceed in a boat on the river Vistula, his sweetheart by his side, against the tide, without oar or sail. He could take a piece of glass in his hand, and with it burn up whole villages, although a hundred miles distant.


photo: Bartłomiej Jurecki,


Sing with us intro: source

Poland really loves its Christmas carols. And there are thousands of them. One even nearly became the national anthem. Here’s a quick look at the history of the genre and its most popular examples. Traditionally, Polish carols were created anonymously, hence why most of their authors are unknown. There are however a few noted exceptions, one of them being the well-known "Bóg Się Rodzi" (God is Born) by the poet Franciszek Karpiński, published in 1792. Often called the Queen of Polish carols because of its elevated character and masterful lyricism, it talks of the Mystery of Incarnation through oxymoronic expressions like ‘Fire freezes, Brilliance darkens’. The last verse, however, has a patriotic message: ‘Raise your hand Jesus Child, Bless this great land’. The melody is even in the rhythm of a polonaise – fitting for a song that would come to be considered the essential Polish carol. In modern day Poland, according to the aforementioned survey, the most popular carol is "Wśród Nocnej Ciszy". This beautiful song with its calm verses and energetic chorus is about shepherds going to Bethlehem to greet the newborn Jesus. It was written in the Baroque period, when the carol genre in Poland was prone to the incorporation of pastoral themes. We wish you a happy Christmas! lovePoland


Lullaby, little Baby Jesus

Today in Bethlehem

Lullaby, little baby Jesus, my little pearl, Lull, my favourite little cuddly one. Lullaby, little baby Jesus, lullaby, lull, And you, the mama, calm him down when crying.

Hush, hush, hush, everyone get ready for bed, Don't wake up my little baby. Lullaby, little baby Jesus, lullaby, lull, And you, the mama, calm him down when crying.

Today in Bethlehem, today in Bethlehem (there is) merry news That the pure Maiden, that the pure Maiden Has borne a son (Refrain:) Christ is born, He's going to deliver us The angels are playing (music) The kings are bidding welcome The shepherds are singing The cattle are kneeling Wonders, wonders do they announce Mary the Maiden, Mary the Maiden Is nursing the child And Saint Joseph and Saint Joseph He's taking care of Her (Refrain) Although in a little barn, although in a little barn The Maiden is bearing Her son After all He'll soon, after all He'll soon deliver the people (Refrain) And the Three Kings, and the Three Kings arrived from the east and they gathered precious gifts for the Lord, gifts for the Lord


Shepherds came to Bethlehem

Triumphs! The King of Heaven Comes down from heaven on high. Shepherds are roused While guarding their flocks By angels' singing. (3x) Glory to God in the Highest and peace to people below. A Redeemer is born who will save the souls on earth (3x)

Shepherds came to Bethlehem that holy day, For the baby Jesus on the lyre did play. Refrain: How great their thankfulness and joy When they saw the Virgin's lovely Boy, Heavn'ly joy! And the Baby Jesus smiled upon them all, Happy with the notes that on His ears did fall. (Refrain). Glory to God in Heaven high, “Peace to man on earth”, sang angels in the sky.

Close your little eyelids, weary from weeping, Relax your little lips, tired from sobbing. Lullaby, little baby Jesus, lullaby, lull, And you, the mama, calm him down when crying. Lullaby, our most lovely little angel, Lullaby, the most enchanting little flower in the world. Lullaby, little baby Jesus, lullaby, lull, And you, the mama, calm him down when crying. Lullaby, the most gorgeous little rose, Lullaby, the most pleasant little lily. Lullaby, little baby Jesus, lullaby, lull, And you, the mama, calm him down when crying. Lullaby, lovely little star delighting our eyes, Lullaby, the most beautiful little sun in the world. Lullaby, little baby Jesus, lullaby, lull, And you, the mama, calm him down when crying.


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