The day after we visited the chilling remains of Auschwitz A and Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camps, we embarked on another tour which would take us over 100 km south of Krakow to the Polish “Winter Capital” called Zakopane, high in the mountains near the Slovakian Border. En route however, we were also treated to some interesting sights, smells and tastes…
Today also happened to be Corpus Christi, a major religious holiday in Poland, so our tour guides advised us that the main road to Zakopane would be very busy as everyone left for the weekend. They suggested taking a more rural route to the town, which took us through the town of Jordanow.
It’s a pleasant area, and as we passed through we got a stunning view of Jordanow’s magnificent Town Hall, which dates back to 1571. It was also around this time that the town itself was actually founded, as a man named Spytek Jordan was granted permission by the King to create a new town, which he named after himself. He built it here where Malejowa, a small village once stood, and planned out the street layout himself.
Moving on from Jordanow, we approached the small village of Skawa, located next to the River of the same name, which also passes Jordanow. The River runs for a total of 60 miles, eventually feeding into the Vistula River, the longest River in Poland which runs back through towards Krakow, Warsaw and the Baltic.
In the village we saw a small chapel, rising above the local shrubbery, shown above.
Mainline at Skawa
Just around the corner from the Chapel we crossed the mainline, which runs between Krakow in the North, and Zakopane in the South. Nearly 15000 miles worth of railways criss cross Poland, connecting all the major cities from Krakow, to Warsaw to Gdansk.
Our next stop was the small village of Wysoka, which features this rather unusual looking Church. It is certainly a striking design, and looks almost futuristic!
The Polish countryside is a stunning place, and is littered with the colourful housing that typifies this area of the country. We were heading towards the Tatras Mountains which encircle Zakopane, and cover both sides of the Slovakian/Polish Border, and the further South we went the better the views, with more and more peaks coming into view…
Nearing an area of Southern Poland where we would actually be intercepting 1 of the other tours available from Krakow, we drove through a village called Raba Wyzna. There are a few notable buildings to see on the main route through the area, with the 1st being the local Municipal Offices, effectively the Town Hall, characterised by it’s stunning red tiled roof, and Clock Tower.
I took the 2nd picture just as we passed the Town Hall, the edge of which you can see on the far left. If you look closely along the road heading into the distance you can just see the top of the town Church, completed in 1843 to replace an earlier 16th century building.
Black Dunajec River near Chocholow
Further along the road, we encountered another River, this time called the Black Dunajec. It is 1 of 2 Rivers, the other called the White Dunajec, that come together to form 1 large watercourse, the Dunajec. Aside from being the actual border between Poland and Slovakia for around 17 miles, it is also a tributary of the Vistula which it reaches after it has exhausted its full route of 170 miles.
Here it flows around the village of Chocholow, which is quite famous for it’s architecture…
Wooden Architecture – Chocholow
So this is Chocholow, and as I said earlier we were about to encounter another tour available in this region of Poland. It is known as the “Wooden Architecture Trail”, of which there is an abundance in the area, called “Lesser Poland”. There are numerous Wooden Churches located around the countryside, along with these stunning examples right through the centre of Chocholow itself, and indeed they make up most of the whole village.
Aside from the Wooden Architecture in Chocholow, another building that stood out was the village Church, a stunning edifice which I managed to snap a picture of as we drove past. We got a much better view however just outside the village, where the spire dominates the skyline around it.
It dates back to the 19th century, again a rebuild of an earlier incarnation on the site. The building is dedicated to St Jacek (which in English translates as St Hyacinth), a Doctor/Priest who lived from 1185 until 1257, eventually passing away in Krakow.
The final portion of our trip down to Zakopane brought us to this rather incongruous looking wooden hut, in the middle of the mountains. Inside however, we were treated to a taste of some local Polish Cheeses, which you can see above. There were a few different varieties, some eaten straight away and some slowly heated over an open flame, either way they were absolutely delicious, and we bought some for the rest of our trip!
Moving on, we finally approached Zakopane, for the next stage of our journey…