Named after the historic region of Podlasie, and formed by the merging of Bialystok and Lomza in 1999, Podlaskie is a Voivodeship in the northeastern part of Poland. You might have not heard of this region of Poland, or even thought about visiting. But if you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path travels in Poland, Podlaskie is worth a visit!
Home to the UNESCO-designated Bialoweiza forest, Podlaskie is also home to four national parks – Narew, Biebrza, Wigry, and Bialowieza with thriving wildlife, post-glacial lakes, and the beauty of nature.
With ruins, castles, and churches featuring Baroque, Medieval, Renaissance, and Classic architecture, Podlaskie region has a lot to offer the avid traveler with a keen eye.
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Literally translating to ‘The Herbal Corner’, Ziolowy Zakatek is a tourist attraction where you can experience farm life. Guests can stay in wooden houses and old farmhouses with clay tile or straw roofs, and some with traditional straw mattresses.
You can visit the peaceful 17th-century Church of Our Lady Jagodna that was moved here from Grodzisk, or see the 150 species of roses in the rosarium, and the vast collection of herbs trees in the orangery, herb garden, and biblical garden. Kids will also love seeing the local farm animals or going swimming in summer and sleigh riding in winter.
Meals at the local tavern and barn made with farm-raised meats, local herbs harvested on the farm unique wild herbs taste absolutely delicious.
A stay at Ziolowy Zakatek will help you feel the true spirit of Polish village life!
The Land Of The Open Shutters
Three fairytale villages – Puchly, Trześcianka, and Soce are together called The Land of Open Shutters. Drive along the streets here and see the old houses with intricate designs and vividly bright colored windows.
But that’s not all. Walk into town and you’ll hear the older Belarusian residents speak a nameless language that’s disappearing.
Or visit the beautiful Orthodox churches with their traditional and unique architecture.
The Białowieża Forest is a 150 thousand hectares UNESCO protected national park that occupies both Poland (Reserve Białowieża) and neighboring Belarus (Belovezhskaya Puschcha). So the Białowieża Forest National Park now covers the primeval forests of Ladzka Forest, Świsłocka Forest, Białowieża Forest, and Szereszewska Forest.
The dead trees and brush that are centuries old are home to many species of mushrooms, bacteria, and insects that are near extinction.
You’ll also get to see the primitive Konik horse, Eurasian elk, and other endangered species here. The European Bison, which has been saved from extinction in this forest, is now the symbol of this popular Polish forest.
Kasztelik Crown Podlasie (Korona Podlasia)
Not a real castle but deserving of the name just the same, the Kasztelik Korona Podlasie was built by hand at the start of the 21st century.
Jerzy Korowicki, the owner, had started by enclosing the property with hand-hewn stones. But he found the work so satisfying, that he continued to build his home, or castle as we know it.
Climb to the top of the 15m tall building flying the Polish flag, and you can get panoramic views of the surrounding forest landscape and the Bug River.
The capital of the Podlaskie Province, Bialystok has been capital many times through the centuries. It was even the capital of New East Prussia in 1795.
Part of the ‘Green Lung of Poland’, the Biala River passes through this ancient city which is also home to the Zwierzyniecki Forest Nature Reserve with its hardwood and oak trees, and the Antoniuk Nature Reserve with its hazel and spruce trees.
The city itself showcases amazing architecture. The 18th-century Branicki Palace built by Count Jan Klemens Branicki, got the city the nickname ‘Versailles de la Pologne’ and later ‘Versailles de la Podlachie’. The fountains, sculptures, and colonnades in the palace are a must-see in Podlaskie.
The Holy Spirit East Orthodox Church boasts the tallest iconostasis in Poland and a crown chandelier that weighs 1200 kg.
Bialystok is also home to the famous Esperanto language, as well as many well-known artists and international art festivals. If you love art, music, or folklore, make sure you visit Bialystok during festival time.
With a population of under 200 people, the town of Kruszyniany is home to the minority community of Tartars who live here.
Having fought on the Polish side in the Viennese wars at the end of the 17th-century, the Tartars are Sunni Muslims, were gifted land by King Jan III Sobieski. They settled in the Bohoniki and Kruszyniany villages of Podlaskie, Poland, and a few other villages.
One of the long-standing symbols of cultural tolerance, the 300-plus-year-old mosque in Kruszyniany is made of pinewood and is the oldest Lipka Tartar Mosque in Poland.
A Tartar cemetery, museum, and an 18th century Orthodox Church here in Kruszyniany are also worth visiting!
Biebrzański Park Narodowy
Set along the banks of the Biebrza River in Burzyn, the Biebrzański Park Narodowy is Poland’s largest, covering 592.23 km2. Consisting of vast untouched fenlands formed by retreating glaciers, the Biebrza Marshes are the most important part of the park.
Over 900 species of vascular plants, 270 species of birds, and 56 species of mammals make their home here. With 8 bicycle trails, 14 hiking trails, and 10 educational trails, Biebrzanski Park is a great place for a weekend visit.
For those with a taste for history, the 19th-century Osoweic Fortress built by the Russians and the Augustowski Canal are a must-visit. The village of Jaglowo, the Medieval Jewish towns of Radzilow and Wizna, the churches and mills in Kamienna Stara, and many other old towns and villages also lie within the boundaries of the park. So it’s really easy to spend more than a day here!
Narwiański Park Narodowy
Covering the Upper Narew Valley, and filled with swamps and marshlands, the Narwiański Park Narodowy or Narew National Park is about 73.5 km2 large. The marshes are a haven for 203 species of birds, 34 species of mammals, and a diverse variety of fish, amphibians, insects, and invertebrates.
The presence of the rare and endangered aquatic warbler has made this part one of the European Important Bird Areas.
Since it’s mostly marshes, the park’s management recommends exploring most areas by kayak, and bikes are only allowed in the buffer zone. You can explore this beautiful park that’s called the ‘Amazon of Podlasie’, cross many bridges, climb the many watchtowers, or stay in the onsite lodges and campsites.
One of the oldest towns in Podlaskie, Tykocin was inhabited before the 11th century. The 15th-century Tykocin Castle where King Sigismund Augustus kept his private treasury is one of the town’s main attractions.
Tykocin is also home to one of Poland’s best-preserved synagogues, the Synagogue Bejt ha-Kneset ha-Godol that was built in baroque style in 1642. Tykocin is also home to a sad past where the mass murder of 1400 Jews took place in Lopuchowo forest. The site is now marked by memorials.
In the town, the Church of the Holy Trinity from 1742 and Bernardine Monastery from 1771 also feature baroque architecture.
There are many more monuments and structures to see here in Tykocin – the Monument of the White Eagle, century-old cemeteries, and more.
One of the oldest military hospitals in Europe dating back to 1633, the Alumnat is now a popular hotel where you can stay in Tykocin. Plus, you’ll always be entertained by the many storks that visit from the neighboring European Stork village.
There’s truly a lot to see and do!
Did you know these amazing places existed in Podlaskie, Poland? Which one do you plan to visit first?
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