“Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” _____William Butler Yeats
Do you ever wish that fairy tale places were real? In Poland, there is a place where you can stumble into a fairy tale. Visit the village of Zalipie where you might dream you have stepped into an old Slavic folk tale. The houses in the village are covered with a distinctive floral folk art. As you stroll through, you might have visions of braided girls in wide skirts chasing geese or an old woman standing in a doorway with a crooked walking stick in one hand and a basket of mushrooms in the other. Who is enchanted? Who is real? The cottages, fences, barns, dovecotes, chicken coops, and doghouses are painted in bright rainbow colors of magical twining flowers and weaving vines. There is a painted bridge where you can stand and dream of enchantment. This is a whimisical almost magical place.
The tradition of folk painting in Zalipie started in the faraway, dark days when charming but archaic fireplaces and chimneys burned inside small wooden cottages. The white washed walls were blackened with the soot from the ever-burning indoor fires. The women brightened the walls with lime mixed with wood ash but soon found more creative ways to cover the soot and decorate their homes. An outlet for their artistry was born in the decoration of the walls with distinctive, colorful patterns. Their creativity, like magical creeping vines, crept outside onto the outer walls of their cottages and weaved their way into the other structures in the town.
The decorative tradition in Zalipie is vibrant as it is made better with the advent of improved paints and colors. Each year, the drawings are repainted in the late spring when the bulk of farm chores are finished. A house-painting competition called Malowana Chata (painted cottage) has been organized annually since 1965. It takes place on the first weekend after the Corpus Christi Feast.
These especial folk-art techniques and designs are passed down from generation to generation.
In Zalipie village, most of the buildings are real functioning households. Modern Zalipie has moved away from those long-ago dark times and days. But still, today, one walks through Zalipie as if through a modern day fantasy.
If you want to revel in this eye-catching craft, the painted village of Zalipie in southeastern Poland is waiting for you. It is just 90 minutes from Krakow. This beautifully bright and colorful village is the perfect location for an uplifting, whimsical and happy day. With maybe a spell or two from some fairy dust.
“Why Poland?” is a blog written and produced by Grace Nagiecka with photos by Gregory Spring. Kraków, Poland 2020.
If you are interested in seeing more photography featuring Poland and other European cities, visit “Greg Spring Photography”. You will find the link on the menu tab on the main page. Thank you for supporting us.
Travel from Krakow to Zalipie through the town of Tarnow. Trains between the two cities take an hour and a half. From Tarnow, you can take a taxi or a minibus.
For more about Zalipie: https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/traditional-art-polish-folk-art/