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Put simply, Kazimierz Dolny is one of the most picturesque towns in all of Poland. Yet, despite its sheer beauty, historic importance and countryside tranquility, this quaint little Polish town somehow doesn’t get the number of visitors it merits. This list aims to surprise and showcase this spectacular valley town to the greater public. Come and visit soon before the crowds start arriving in droves, because Kazimierz Dolny is truly a beautiful town.
Most historic Polish towns tend to have an Old Town square. Here in Kazimierz Dolny, there is a splendid market square, known as the Rynek. One of the most significant and popular attractions here is the old well, in the heart of the square. Surrounding this popular well are some charming dwelling places, many of which have recently been converted into trendy up-and-coming bars, art galleries and cafés. Wander around at your leisure, and stop for a coffee and an ice cream and watch the world go by from this age-old square.
The beauty of Kazimierz Dolny is that the town mixes nature with all that man built. On the edge of the town, head to Korzeniowy Dol Gorge for a scenic sample of the Polish countryside. Here at the gorge, delight yourself in this natural formation between trees and greenery. There are some walking trails to follow, and it’s very easily explored on a day trip from the town without needing any transport.
All Polish towns have at least one church and, again, here in Kazimierz Dolny, you have quite a few from which to choose. If you only have time to see one of the churches, visit the Church of St. John the Baptist. The church was founded in the 1300s and rebuilt in the Renaissance style in the 1600s. Regular masses are held, and everyone is welcome. The church also opens during the day for prayer. It is located on a slight hill at the foot of the castle ruins.
You can tour the impressive ruins of the old castle here in Kazimierz Dolny. This is a Roman-style castle dating back to the 13th century, which is now a superb and insightful museum. Many of the walls have been reconstructed and maintained, with information boards in Polish and English. Opening hours vary depending on the season, so please check in advance. The entrance fee of 5 złotych (US$1.35) includes entry to the entire complex, which includes the castle courtyard, a viewing platform, the watchtower and cellar. There is an exhibition detailing the history of the castle and town of Kazimierz Dolny, as well as historical artefacts from the past.
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The striking St. Nicholas and St. Christopher townhouses are two intriguing adjoining buildings containing works of art. They present a fine example of Polish townhouses dating back to the 17th century. Each of the two buildings has a different style; they were owned by brothers Nicholas and Christopher Przybyło. The architecture includes ornaments, animals, figurines and arches. The facade mixes Christianity with mythology. The modelling is made from plaster mortar, and the buildings are well located in the central square of Kazimierz Dolny.
Kazimierz Dolny was once a town with a 50% Jewish population. That all changed during the Second World War. At the time, the 1,400 Jews living here were forced to perform hard labour tasks and make roads using tombstones from their very own Jewish cemetery. In 1940, the Nazi Germans established a Jewish ghetto here, starving the Jews, working them to death or transferring them to the Belzec death camp for extermination. By 1942, the entire Jewish population of the town had been wiped out. This is now remembered in two main ways. Firstly, there is a Holocaust memorial is dedicated to the victims, and made up of the tombstones that survived. Secondly, the Jewish synagogue also survives and is well worth a trip. The synagogue is no longer used for worship, but instead has been turned into a guest house (where you can sleep), a shop and a cosy café. It’s located in the “small square” (Mały Rynek).
The magnificent Hill of Crosses is a short climb from the town centre and something you won’t want to miss. Those who love to admire a fantastic view will be delighted once they reach the top. While the views are perfect and would look great on Instagram, it’s important to understand and remember the significance of the three crosses. These three holy crosses are a memorial to the victims of a 1708 cholera epidemic in the area. As well as a view over the town, you can see Poland’s longest river, the Wisła, from the top.
Kazimierz Dolny is a town famous for art. It boasts over 12 art galleries, and in order to truly see the town’s artistic appeal in full, it is advised to visit a few of these. You can start with the Goldsmith Art Museum in the main square, before attending an art festival, organised by the Kazimierz Confraternity of Art. Art festivals are held all year round – check the official website (in Polish only) for the latest information.