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So far, Podlasie stays one of the least visited places in Poland. The north eastern corner of the country seems forgotten by the Polish tourists, as it seemingly lacks attractions such as noisy beaches or huge mountains to climb. Nevertheless, with its pristine nature, crystal clear rivers and calm towns, it is one of our favorite travel destinations, especially if we go with a bike and tent.
What’s worth to know about Podlasie
Before Second World War Podlasie used to be one of the most ethnically diverse part of Poland. The market days at the streets of Tykocin, Białystok or Supraśl were a loud mix of Eastern languages – Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Belarussian and many more. So that Ludwik Zamenhoff, living in Białystok, came up with an idea of creating the universal language, that will help all the people in the world communicate without barriers. Esperanto.
Today the last representatives of Muslim Tatar minority live in the tranquil town Kruszyniany. The synagogue are almost all gone. But the beautiful churches of Ortodox Christians and Catholics can be found everywhere.
Alley of Miracles
Poland is well known for its religiosity. And even though in the busy city centers it is hard to find evidence of that, one trip to the Eastern border will give plenty of them. These were you find wooden crosses at every entrance to the village and colorful small chapels dedicated mostly to St. Mary. Local communities take a great pride in taking care of their temples and religious tradition are very much alive here.
Podlasie is often called an Alley of Miracles. Probably thanks to the cult of St. Mary, it is the place where the great number of revelations happened. Hell, there is even the Research Studio of Miraculous Phenomena at University of Białystok – that means they study miracles there. And they are not Ghostbusters.
Most recent would be a revelation in Zabłudów, where according to the local community, St. Mary visited fourteen year old girl in the sixties. Shorty after that Zabłudów become a pilgrimage destination.
Another one happened not more than 10 years ago in Sokółka. Local community claims that in 2009 the flesh of Christ manifested on the host dropped at the stairs of the temple.
Nature parks in Podlasie
There are four national parks in Podlasie voievodship. Which makes it the capital of Polish nature. It will be specially interesting to people who loves kayaking or hiking in the forests.
You cannot miss these towns in Eastern Poland
If you would like to experience Podlasie on your own, you have to visit at least some of these five towns.
Old village which since centuries is a home to Tatar minority. You will find a beautiful wooden mosque there, as well as a cemetery.
Tatar tradition in Kruszyniany is very much alive. You will find there a fantastic center of Tatar’s culture. Once a year, in August, there is a festival Sabantui.
There is also a great restaurant, that serves traditional Tatar food – Tatarska Jurta. We are sad to say, that due to the unfortunate event, the restaurant burned in May of 2018. However, we are sure that thanks to the help of the people from all around the world, who loved this magical place, Tatarska Jurta will be soon back.
It is just one of this towns that you don’t want to leave. They have tasty ice creams, huge Orthodox church and great collection of icons in the local museum. And let’s not forget of idyllic views and the river going through the town.
It is worth to visit Supraśl in summer, when the slow festival is taking place. In 2018 it starts on 30 of June and finishes on 12 of August.
It is one of the most beautiful towns in Eastern Poland. And one of those where the synagogues are still alive.
Before Second World War 70% of the population of Tykocin were Polish Jews. Today you can visit the great synagogue from XVII century and eat in the fine restaurant Tejsza, specialized in Jewish cuisine.
There is also a castle (although this one is brand new), beautiful market, baroque Church of the Holy Trinity, former military hospital which serves as hotel. Not to mention abundance of storks all around the town.
Wojanów is worth to visit mostly for its nature. The town is located at the very edge of Narwia valley.
The river is often called Polish Amazon as it is so called braided river – one of the few in Europe. It waters twist around like braided hair and are home to the thousands of bird species. Every year Narew and Biebrza river are visited by hundreds of ornithologiest from abroad.
A good idea is to visit the place on… balloon. But as it is quite expensive, you can also take a look around in Waniewo. There you will find wooden bridges that will take you from one side of the river, through its braides, to the other side. It is a few kilometeres way!
In the beginning of the XX century Białowieża forest was called leśnym Wawelem (Wawel of forest – Wawel being the most famous Polish castle). One of the oldest forests in Europe is still a kingdom of nature. Even though recentely it was in the news mostly due to the illegal harvesting of trees allowed by the government. Białowieża and its maginificent deposits of trees were always targeted by starving wood industry. But it always survives.
The best place to start discovering is town Białowieża. The place is magical, looks like a village from the stories of Brothers Grimm. If you ask around people will still tell you about the folks magic and herbary. There were local witches, called szeptuchy (which can be translated as these who wisper) and szeptuni.
The biggest attraction of the region are Polish bisons, which live here in the wild. They are not affraid of people, if you are lucky you will spot them on the fields around your guesthouse.