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Founded in 1846 by Polish settlers who escaped the invasion of Poland, the village of Polonezköy is quite the getaway from the urban chaos of Istanbul. Located within a nature park, the village has much more than undisturbed hiking trails for weary city dwellers.
When Polish settlers sought refuge in Turkey after the invasion of Poland, Polonezköy (known as Adampol in Polish) was founded in 1846 from an idea conceived by the Chairman of the Polish National Uprising Government, Adam Czartoryski. With only twelve people at the beginning, the village soon grew with Polish settlers as well as Siberian runaways and emigrants from the 1848 revolutions and the Crimean War. Even though many inhabitants returned to their native lands after Polish independence in 1918, others took on Turkish citizenship in 1938 and the village started receiving its first tourists before WWII. Famous names such as Franz Liszt, Gustave Flaubert, and Musta Kemal Atatürk all visited the village and by 2002 it celebrated its 160th anniversary.
Make sure to take part in the annual summer festival (in June) where traditional Polish folk music and dance revive the village’s historic roots and its cultural ties to Poland. Another important sight in terms of Polonezköy’s history is the Our Lady of the Czestochowa Church as well as the Zofia Ryzy Museum right across the church, also one of the village’s oldest houses of typical Polish architecture, which exhibits photographs, books, and documents about the history of Adampol-Polonezköy. For nature lovers, the nature park and its 5km trekking and hiking path is an essential experience, while the Polonezköy Zoo inside the Country Club is a great activity for families with children.
Located in a historic wooden house with a beautiful garden, Leonardo’s is one of the favorite spots for dining in Polonezköy. With a terrace that overlooks the nature park and the restaurant’s own evergreen garden, the menu has classic Turkish meze as well as Polish dishes such as beet salad, Polish style trout with fresh herbs, steak a la Polonaise, and selyodka (dressed herring).
One of the oldest and most established hotels in Polonezköy, the Country Club offers rooms as well as small houses for four-eight guests with a garden and barbecue. Apart from the outdoor pool, ping-pong tables, and tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts, the hotel also has a playground and a small lake all overlooking the beautiful nature park. As for the food, the country club’s picnic area allows for hotel guests as well as visitors to dine on classic Turkish dishes in the great outdoors. Did we mention the zoo? The country club’s own zoo started as a hobby and turned into a small collection of freely roaming animals from kangaroos to flamingos and much more.