Travel lovePoland Magazine December 2019


We invite you for several expeditions to the mountainous corners of Poland. We will visit the Bieszczady Mountains and Tatra Mountains – this time in a slightly extreme version – namely climbing. We also invite you to the slightly mysterious Low Beskids and Gorce. And if you want to learn a bit more about our beautiful cover – read the story of Łukasz Sowiński about Babia Góra. 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. We will come over to Gdańsk and knock around to Wrocław again. 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. Our Christmas section complements the gallery of works by Kamila Rosińska, showing the magic of Christmas in beautiful staging. Happy Christmas to all of You!

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

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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.

Kazimierz Nóżka, a forester

from Polanki in Podkarpackie


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?

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).


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





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.

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.


“The expansive,

gentle and still

wild mountains

provide shelter to

bears, wolves

and bison. The


landscapes and

deep forest"

more details at:

Some rules for visiting the Bieszczady

National Park for educational and

touristic purposes:

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


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.

Grey wolf (Canis lupus) in the river. Bieszczady

Mountains. PolandBy Szymon Bartosz

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.




by: Jakub Zawadziński

Photos by: Jakub Zawadziński and Max Danilevsky

Photo by: Jakub Zawadziński

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”






Scene is the

result of a


evolution of


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


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.

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


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.

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?

Photo by: Jakub Zawadziński

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).

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.


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.

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


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



Photo by: Max Danilevsky Photography & Movies

Photo by: Jakub Zawadziński

Photo by: Max Danilevsky Photography & Movies

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

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


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






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.

A d d r e s s : D ł u g i T a r g 4 3 - 4 4 , 8 0 - 8 3 1 G d a ń s k

w w w . m u z e u m g d a n s k . p l


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

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 1545-

1546. 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,



B Y A N N A A D A M S K A M E E T M Y C I T Y . T O U R S

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

perfect way to spend a romantic winter's evening.

Lighthouse Keeper on Cathedral Island

public domain by Wrocław Official



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


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


narrated and photos:

Krystian Kiwacz



by 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


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


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.

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


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


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


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.


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


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.

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


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, Iwonicz-

Zdrój, 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


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



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


“ The Low

Beskids are also

a great place to

practice crosscountry

or trail



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


L O W E R B E S K I D , B E S K I D S Ą D E C K I A N D G O R C E



W W W . K R Y S T I A N K I W A C Z . P L

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.

L O W E R B E S K I D , B E S K I D S Ą D E C K I A N D G O R C E



W W W . K R Y S T I A N K I W A C Z . P L

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



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W W W . K R Y S T I A N K I W A C Z . P L

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.


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W W W . K R Y S T I A N K I W A C Z . P L

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.


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W W W . K R Y S T I A N K I W A C Z . P L


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

L O W E R B E S K I D , B E S K I D S Ą D E C K I A N D G O R C E



W W W . K R Y S T I A N K I W A C Z . P L

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.


L O W E R B E S K I D , B E S K I D S Ą D E C K I A N D G O R C E



W W W . K R Y S T I A N K I W A C Z . P L


a view on Lubań

Photo by Krystian Kiwacz


by Katarzyna Skóra

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



Suicide from Lackowa

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.

Vampire from Zamkowa Street

in Sanok

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


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.

P h o t o : R a f a ł R a c z y ń s k i

G e r l a c h 2 6 5 5 m a t s l , H i g h T a t r a

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.

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?

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

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.


TLP: What is mountaineering? Is this a contact with the wall, the

power of the mountains perceived in the perspective inaccessible to


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

relationships that have been built in such difficult mountain

conditions provide the foundation to build further relationships with

other people in ordinary, everyday life.

TLP: Where to start climbing adventure in the Tatras? Which routes

in the Tatras are best for climbing Probably those around Morskie


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.

K u r t y k a ' s L o b b y , 1 8 0 0 m a t s l , H i g h T a t r a s , M a r c h 2 0 1 9

p h o t o : G r z e g o r z Z i e l s k i

l a s t c a m p b e f o r e Ś w i n i c a p e a k , F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8 ,

p h o t o : S t a n i s ł a w M a g i e r a

v i e w o n O r l a P e r ć f r o m Ś w i n i c a p e a k 2 3 0 1 ,

F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8 , p h o t o : S t a n i s ł a w M a g i e r a


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.


ETHNOGRAPHIC Park in Tokarnia









prepared as a part of the project:

Discover Beskid Sądecki



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.Krynica-

Zdrój 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. Krynica-

Zdrój 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


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




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




Konrad Rogoziński


Odkryj Beskid Sądecki

Tourist Information


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


Zdrój Krynica

Konrad Rogoziński project: Odkryj Beskid Sądecki

Winter stories from



"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."


Łukasz Sowiński


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


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


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


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


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


P H O T O G R A P H Y : Ł U K A S Z S O W I Ń S K I

W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / K R A J O B R A Z Y S O W I N S K I F O T O

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.



P H O T O G R A P H Y : Ł U K A S Z S O W I Ń S K I

W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / K R A J O B R A Z Y S O W I N S K I F O T O

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


P H O T O G R A P H Y : Ł U K A S Z S O W I Ń S K I

W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / K R A J O B R A Z Y S O W I N S K I F O T O

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.



P H O T O G R A P H Y : Ł U K A S Z S O W I Ń S K I

W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / K R A J O B R A Z Y S O W I N S K I F O T O

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


a conversation with

Adam Pachura

CEO of Telewizja Sudecka


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



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


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

photo archive of Telewizja Sudecka

photo archive of Telewizja Sudecka


The Owl Mountains

photo archive of Telewizja Sudecka

Żywiec, Milówka Forefathers' Eve PHOTOS:


Żywiec 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


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.


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.

Żywiec Forefathers' Eve

Photos: Daniel Franek


Daniel Franek


Daniel Franek


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


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.


came here with a carol


to make you feel upset


will be, will be


go with carols everywhere


us what you are supposed to


it is cold to stand here, outside the window


have thin coats, our fingers freeze


landlady, give us our payment"


you gave us


Lord will give to you"


you for the carol


wish you health and happiness


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.

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

Bo nom tys tu zimno pod okiynkiym stać

Momy ciynkie kozusiynta, zimno nom tu w palusiynta

Hej gaździnko hej kolynde nom dej"

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"

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"

However, they always thanked for each donation received,


„Za kolynde dziynkujymy

Scynścio zdrowio wom zycymy

Na tyn Nowy Rok"

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


Baby Jesus, once born, used to carol as well”

Ania Olesinska



"We came

here with

a carol

Not to make

you feel


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


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


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



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,


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 280-

345 (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.


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.


He can be demanding, just like Gwiazdor, but he works mainly in

Lesser Poland and Subcarpathian region.


Baby or Baby Jesus – that is, the new-born Jesus, operates

mainly in Upper Silesia.


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.”

Kamila Rosinska '

Photo: Gregor Laubsch

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.

W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I N S C E N I Z A C J E

W W W . I N S T A G R A M . C O M / S I E L S K I E _ I N S C E N I Z A C J E





W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I N S C E N I Z A C J E /

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.






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.


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.

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


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.

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

| 23


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!



Today in Bethlehem

little Baby Jesus


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.

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.

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


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


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


And the Three Kings, and the Three Kings

arrived from the east

and they gathered precious

gifts for the Lord, gifts for the Lord


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.


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.


Glory to God in Heaven high,

“Peace to man on earth”, sang angels in the sky.

Shepherds came to Bethlehem





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