(Polish pronounciation is shown in parenthesis)

Red Ruthenia (Chervena Rus' part of current SE Poland)

The area which currently forms the south-easternmost part of Poland lay outside the boundaries of the nation that emerged at the end of the Dark Ages, though it was incorporated into the early Polish state established by Mieszko I and his son Boleslaw the Brave in the late tenth century. However, this arrangement did not long survive the latter's death:the territory was taken over by the neighboring Ruthenians (ancestors of the present-day Ukrainians), and became part of a large province known as Red Ruthenia (Rus' Czerwona).The whole of Red Ruthenia was conquered by King Kazimierz the Great in the latter half of the fourteenth century, and thereafter served as Poland's eastern bulwark until the Partition era, when all but a small northern section was taken over by the Austrians, forming the main component of a new province named Galicia. Following the Austrian Empire's collapse in World War I, ownership of Red Ruthenia was disputed between the resurrected Polish state and the Soviet Union. The matter was initially resolved in Poland's favor as a result of its stunningly conclusive victory in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20 the only defeat the Red Army ever suffered in the field. However, the Soviets turned the tables in 1945, when Stalin gained international backing for his plan to force Poland to cede most of Red Ruthenia to the Soviet Republic of the Ukraine, in return for compensatory territorial acquisitions elsewhere at Germany's expense. The Poles were left with a rump, approximately equivalent to the portion they had held a thousand years before.
Despite its truncated size, the part of Red Ruthenia still belonging to Poland ranks among the country's most fascinating and diverse regions, one that makes a very satisfying basis for a touring trip of a week or more. The southernmost part, in and around the mountain ranges of the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) and Beskid Niski, is an unspoiled rural area, much of it wilderness, which is ideal for long yet not unduly demanding walks. For several centuries, two ethnic minority groups, the Lemkos and the Boykos, had their homelands there. Most were forcibly expelled in 1947, but their wooden churches, originally built for either the Orthodox or Uniate rite, survive as a reminder of their former presence.
Timber churches, this time built by ethnic Poles, usually for Roman Catholic worship, are also characteristic of the lower-lying areas further north. One of the great benefits in touring Red Ruthenia by car is in the freedom this affords to stop off and admire these wonderful buildings, whose sheer invention and artistry entitles them to be considered among the finest expressions of folk architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. Note that, while the finest and most easily accessible are detailed in this chapter, others can be found in literally dozens of villages not described here.
In the northern part of Red Ruthenia, there are more obvious setpiece attractions, including several magnificent castles and palaces built by the great landed magnates. Of these families, the Zamoyskis went a stage further than their rivals in establishing the planned town of Zamosc (Zamoshch), a treasure of Italian Renaissance architecture which is unquestionably among the most rewarding tourist destinations in Poland. In and around Zamosc (Zamoshch) can also be found some of the best-preserved monuments of Poland's Jewish community, which traditionally had a strong presence in these parts. For several centuries, it was the largest in the world, but was all but wiped out by the Nazis in a systematic program of genocide whose early stages were enacted in two of the extermination camps they established in the region.

The Middle San Basin

Rzeszow (Zheshoov), 26 miles (42 km) south-west of Lezajsk (Lezhaysk), was founded by the Ruthenians, and later passed through the hands of various aristocratic Polish dynasties. It became increasingly important during the Austrian rule of the Partition period, towards the end of which is gained several imposing buildings in the Viennese Secessionist style. After World War II, it was made the focal point of the industrial re-generation of south-eastern Poland, and it is now easily the largest city in the region.
This development means that Rzeszow (Zheshoov) is now an ugly sprawl of tower blocks and factories, though the Old Town does survive as its core. On the central Rynek are the Town Hall, originally sixteenth-century but remodeled in a heavy neo-Gothic style, a statue to Tadeusz Kosciuszko (Tahde-oosh Koshtsyushko), hero of the American Wars of Independence and the Polish struggles against the Partitioning powers, and a number of historic houses. One of these contains the Ethnographic Museum, featuring a collection of folk art and costumes. On ul. Boznicza, just off the north-eastern end of the square, are two former Jewish temples. The first of these, the Old Synagogue, is mostly seventeenth-century in date, and now contains the city archive. Immediately to the north is the New Synagogue, built by an Italian architect, Giovanni Belotti, in the early eighteenth century; this now functions as a commercial art gallery and cafe.
On plac Farny, the next square to the west of the Rynek, is the parish church. Originally Gothic, it was remodeled in the Baroque period, and is primarily of interest for the Renaissance tombs of the Rzeszow (Zheshoov)ski family, the first Polish owners of the town. To the west is the Bernardine monastery, built in the 1620's at the behest of Mikolaj Ligeza, the most prominent member of the next local dynasty. It is a very early example of the Baroque style, with a ground plan and a high altar which are both still clearly Renaissance. Presiding over the chancel in a highly theatrical arrangement are eight alabaster busts of members of the Ligeza family. To the side of this is an elaborate Baroque chapel containing a supposedly miraculous sixteenth-century statue of the Virgin. The walls are frescoed with scenes illustrating how 100 different people were cured as a result of her intercession. Outside the monastery is the Monument to the Revolutionary Movement, a typically bombastic example of the Socialist Realist memorials once common throughout Eastern Europe, but which elsewhere have usually been removed.
South of the parish church is ul. 3 Maj a, about halfway down which is the Piarist monastery, which was likewise founded by Mikolaj Ligeza. The church's facade, which was not added until later, was designed by Tylman van Gameren, the Dutch-born architect who built so much of Warsaw. Nowadays, the monastic quarters are occupied by the Regional Museum. This is mostly devoted to changing exhibitions on historical themes, though it is worth visiting for the sake of seeing the interiors, and in particular the frescoed vaults. At the end of the same street is the Savings Bank, a whimsical fantasy castle that is by far the most eye-catching of the city's Secessionist buildings.
A little way down ul. Zamkowa is the Lubomirski Palace, the summer residence of the third and last of the Rzeszow (Zheshoov) dynasties. Built in the early eighteenth century by Tylman van Gameren, it now serves as a music college. Occupying a commanding position in splendid isolation at the extreme southern end of the Old Town is the castle, a huge fortified block built in the late sixteenth centuries for the Ligezas. It was re-modeled on several subsequent occasions, but still retains its ramparts and bell tower. For long used as a prison, it is currently the seat of the law courts.

Back on the River San, 22 miles (35 km) upstream from Lezajsk (Lezhaysk) and a similar distance east of Lancut, is Jaroslaw. For several hundred years the town, which takes its name from the Ruthenian prince who founded it in the eleventh century, was one of Central Europe's most important trade fair centers, and was inhabited by merchants of many different nationalities. The main monumental legacy of this is the Orsetti Mansion on the southern side of the Rynek, built in the late sixteenth century for the Italian family after whom it is named. It possesses a graceful loggia and a richly decorated attic, while the interior, now housing the District Museum, retains its original polychromed woodbeam ceilings. From another mansion on the south side of the Rynek, guided tours are run round the extensive network of underground town cellars, which were used not only for storage purposes, but also for shelter in time of war. Another key building on the square is the Town
Hall, which was originally Gothic but several times remodeled. Jaroslaw has several notable churches. North of the Rynek are the Renaissance parish church and, on the hill beyond, a fortified Benedictine convent, while to the east is the mid-eighteenth-century Uniate church. The western part of town is dominated by the twin-towered Dominican monastery; this was originally built by the Jesuits in the seventeenth century, is likewise fortified and contains a Gothic carving of the Pieta.
Przemysl lies down the curvaceous course of the San from Jaroslaw, 21 miles (34km) away by road. Another Ruthenian foundation, it became a major episcopal center under Polish rule, and the towers of the monastic houses dominate the cityscape to this day. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Austrian occupiers made Przemysl into one of Europe's strongest fortresses, defended by a 9 mile (15 km) long inner circle of walls and a 28 miles (45 km) long outer ring. Much of this was destroyed in World War I, when the garrison was starved into submission by the Russians, though surviving sections can be seen all over the city. As a result of the boundary changes formalized in 1945, Przemysl now lies hard by the Ukrainian frontier, and swarms with cross-border traders. The nearest crossing-point is 9 miles (14km) to the west, on the main road to Lwow (now Lviv), which was for centuries one of Poland's largest and most culturally vibrant cities.
Pzhemysl's Old Town clings to the hillside on the southern bank of the San. The central Rynek preserves a number of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century houses, while just to the side is the Baroque Franciscan church. This has a resplendent columned facade with a double stairway, while the interior is crammed with Rococo adornments, which include illusionist frescos, numerous altars, the pulpit and the organ. A block to the rear is the former Jesuit church, whose college buildings are now occupied by the Diocesan Museum. Further uphill is the Carmelite church, a seat of a Uniate bishop prior to 1945. It subsequently became a Roman Catholic parish church, but was recently returned, after a prolonged and heated dispute, to the Uniates. Alongside, the former Uniate Bishop's Palace now contains the Regional Museum. In addition to the usual archaeological and ethnographical displays, this features a valuable collection of Ruthenian icons brought from Uniate churches throughout the region.
West along ul. Katedralna from the Jesuit church is the cathedral. As so often in Poland, the original Gothic building was completely transformed in the Baroque era but, most unusually, the chancel was later returned to its former appearance. Below this, the foundations of the previous Romanesque rotunda have been uncovered. Among the Baroque additions are the detached belfry, the elliptical chapel of the Fredo family and the octagonal chapel of the Drohojowski family. At the highest point of the Old Town, and commanding a fine view is the castle, now rather ruinous but including a Renaissance section by an inspired Italian architect, Galeazzo Appiani.

The Bieszczady (Bieshchady) Region

The extreme south-eastern corner of Poland is composed of the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) mountains and their foothills, the Gory Slonne. In the Middle Ages, a few towns with a mixed Ruthenian and Polish population were established at the northern fringe of this region, on the main trade route between Cracow and Russia. Everything else remained an uninhabited wilderness until the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when it was settled by Ruthenian farmers and Wallachian nomads, descendants of the ancient Thracians who had gradually been forced northwards. In time, two distinct ethnic groups emerged from the intermarriage of these peoples the Boykos (Boykowie) and the Lemkos (Lemkowie) or Rusnaki.
The former inhabited the highest parts of the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) and in the area (now part of the Ukraine) directly to the east, while the latter lived on the lower western fringe and in the Beskid Niski and Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski) beyond. Both groups were farmers, breeding cattle, sheep and goats. Each spoke their own dialect, a form of Ukrainian. Both practiced a vigorous form of folk art, particularly manifest in the extraordinarily inventive and picturesque wooden churches found in almost every village, whose style of construction remained essentially unchanged down the centuries. Most of these followed the Uniate rite, though others remained loyal to Eastern Orthodoxy. Generally speaking, the Boykos were poorer and more conservative than the Lemkos, and less prone to outside influences than their neighbors, who lived in close proximity to Poles and Hungarians. This distinction is reflected in their architecture. Boyko churches show lingering Byzantine influence, and generally have a large central dome over the nave, with two smaller domes of equal size over the narthex and sanctuary. Lemko churches, on the other hand, often feature a west tower, and adopt the principle of domes descending in size towards the east end.

This ethnic patchwork was tragically broken up in the aftermath of World War II. A para-military group known as the Ukrainian Partisan Army (UPA) took refuge in the wide spaces of the Bieszczady (Bieshchady), and continued fighting for the independence of its perpetually subdued country for 2 years after the cessation of hostilities elsewhere in Europe. It remains a matter of dispute as to what extent they were actively supported by the Boykos and the Lemkos, but Poland's Communist government decided on a drastic course of action when the deputy defense minister and erstwhile commander of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, General Karol Swierczewski, was assassinated by the UPA in March 1947.
The following month, in an exercise codenamed Operation Vistula, virtually the entire Boyko and Lemko population, upwards of 200,000 in all, was forcibly evacuated and re-settled in areas recently gained from Germany. Their villages were either razed to the ground, or else re-populated with Poles, albeit at only a fraction of their previous density. The churches were either abandoned, or else handed over to the Roman Catholics. Much of the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) returned to being a wilderness, and several parts were subsequently designated as protected landscapes. Despite a modest migration back to the region since the fall of Communism, particularly by Lemkos, the situation remains little changed to this day.
Sanok, located on a bluff high above the River San, 38 miles (62km) south-west of Przemysl, is the main gateway to the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) region. The town is a major industrial center, best-known for the production of the Autosan buses that are a familiar sight all over Poland. Although not particularly attractive in itself, it is an excellent touring base, and also boasts two really outstanding museums.
The first of these is the Historical Museum housed in the castle, a much-remodeled sixteenth-century building located directly above the river, and just beyond the north-east corner of the Rynek. Supplementing the standard displays of archaeology, local history and paintings is the largest collection of Ruthenian icons to be found anywhere in the world outside Moscow. These range in date from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries, and were brought from the former Uniate churches throughout the region. They show an evolution in style from the rigid Byzantine hierarchy of the early works to a clear Roman Catholic influence in those painted after the foundation of the Uniate church in 1596.
Facing the castle from the south is a branch museum, the Beksinski Gallery, devoted to the paintings of one of Poland's leading contemporary artists, Zdzislaw Beksinski, a native of Sanok. Influenced by both Expressionism and Surrealism, his compositions are notable for their hallucinatory, dream-like sense of fantasy. On the other side of the castle is a late eighteenth-century Orthodox church.
About 1 mile (2km) north of the town center, on the opposite bank of the San, is the Museum of Folk Architecture, which is generally agreed to be Poland's premier skansen. The buildings are arranged into five sections, each representing a different ethnic group from south-east Poland the
Boykos, the Lemkos, the Dolinianie (the dalesmen of the region around Sanok), and the eastern and western Pogorzanie (the inhabitants of the foothill areas further west). In addition to numerous farmsteads, the exhibits include a watermill, sawmill, a windmill, a fire station, a school, an inn and a cluster of beehives. There are also three intact churches. That near the entrance is the oldest: it dates back to the 1670's and comes from the village of Baczal Dolny. It was used for Roman Catholic services and has a complete set of late Baroque furnishings inside.
Both of the other churches were formerly Uniate, and are to be found in the section devoted to the Boykos, which is beautifully landscaped on the hillside. The larger of these dates from the 1730's and formerly stood in the village of Graziowa. It is a classic Boyko design, with hipped mansard roofs, an arcade running all the way round the building, and a two-story porch from whose upper level women could observe the service. Inside is a nineteenth-century iconostasis, while the detached belfry alongside, which is older than the church, was brought from another site. At the foot of the hill is an intact mid-eighteenth-century ensemble from the village of Rosolin, consisting of church, belfry and mortuary. The perfectly proportioned church is a little masterpiece, though it is untypical of Boyko architecture, showing clear Roman Catholic influence. It may have been designed by a Pole named Antoni, who signed the folksy paintings inside which take the place of the traditional iconostasis.
Within easy reach of Sanok two outstanding wooden churches, both originally built for the Orthodox rite, can still be seen in situ. That at Czertezh, 3 miles (5 km) along the main road to the west, dates back to the 1730's and preserves its original iconostasis, though it is now used for Catholic worship. The oldest surviving wooden Orthodox church in Poland is at Ulucz, which is on a minor road 9 miles (15 km) down the San from Sanok; it is no longer used for services and is now an outstation of the skansen. Begun around 1510, it gained its present form the following century. Its central dome has been molded into the shape of an octagon, while the western section has an amazing roof with spreading eaves which covers both the narthex and the exterior gallery. Inside is a dignified seventeenth-century iconostasis.
Lesko, 9 miles (15 km) south-west of Sanok, is built on a cliff top high above the San. It marks the starting-point of the main loop road which goes all the way round the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) mountains, as well as its smaller counterpart which travels round Lake Solinskie, the hydroelectric and water sports center just to the south. The town itself is best-known for its Jewish heritage, having been settled by Sephardi Jews expelled from Spain. A certain Spanish influence is manifest in the architecture of the fortified Renaissance synagogue, nowadays a commercial art gallery, which is located just off the Rynek. Downhill and to the right is an extensive Jewish cemetery with over 1,000 historic tombstones, many with beautiful carvings. At the entrance to town from the Sanok road is the castle, which was completely rebuilt as a neo-Classical palace, and is now a holiday home and hotel.
Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Dolne, l5 1/2 miles (25 km) south-east of Lesko, is the last town before the mountains. During the summer, it has a rail link with Przemysl, which international boundary changes have elevated into an attraction in its own right: the train travels via the Ukraine, passing through, but not stopping at, a couple of Ukrainian villages en route. Currently, this is the only way of seeing anything of the Ukraine without having to buy a visa. Other than this, Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Dolne has only a few low-key attractions to offer: the former synagogue on the Rynek, which is now a library; a nineteenth-century Uniate church on nearby ul. Kopernika; and the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) National Park Museum on ul. Belzka.
Several fine wooden churches of the Boykos can be seen in the villages near Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Dolne. Kroscienko, on the rail line to Przemysl, 7 miles (11km) to the north-east, has one dating from the end of the eighteenth century which is still used for Orthodox services. The village was settled by Greek refugees after World War II, and some still live there. Another notable church, dating from a few decades later, is in Liskowate, the next village to the north.
Even closer to Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Dolne is Rownia, which lies down a side road to the south-west, and is also accessible in less than an hour via the more direct route of the footpath marked with blue stripes. Built in the latter part of the eighteenth century, the church has three domes, the central one of which rises in tiers, while the outer ones are shaped liked bells. Further down the same side road, or 5 miles (8km) south of Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Dolne by the main road into the mountains, is Hoszow. Hidden among the trees at the far end of the village is a late nineteenth-century church in the architectural style of the Hutsuls, an ethnic minority whose traditional homeland now lies entirely within the Ukraine. They were even more loyal to Byzantine models than the Boykos, favoring a cruciform plan based around a single central dome.
Several more wooden churches lie further south. On the main road, those in Zlobek and Czarna Gorne both date from the 1830's; the former has lost its interior decoration, but the latter still preserves its original iconostasis. Polana, 6 miles (10 km) west of Czarna Gorne on the road to Lake Solinskie, has a church in the style of those in the Trans-Carpathian region of the Ukraine. The village, which stands at the northern edge of one of the Bieszczady's protected areas, the San Valley Landscape Park (Park Krajobrazowy Doliny Sanu), is a small holiday center with private rooms available for rent. It is particularly popular with riding enthusiasts: local "hutsul" horses (which were originally wild, but are now domesticated) can be hired there for exploring the countryside.
East of Czarna Gorne, a side road leads to Bystre, whose early twentieth century church, regrettably now disused, remains loyal to the traditional forms but is built on a noticeably larger scale. Its nineteenth-century counterpart in neighboring Michniowiec (Mikhnyovyets) has had its interior redecorated in line with its changed needs of Catholic worship. Back on the main road, the mid-eighteenth-century church at Smolnik, the last village before entering the mountains proper, lies on a hillock at the crossroads south of the village. The church at Chmiel, 4 miles (7km) along the westbound road
which closely follows the course of the River San, was built in the first decade of the twentieth century in traditional Ukrainian style. Returning to Smolnik, it is a further II miles (18 km) down the main road to Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Gorne. A straggling community spread out along the valley of the Wolosaty, a tributary of the San, it offers breathtaking views in all directions.
Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Gorne is the main hiking base for the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) National Park (Bieszczadzki Park Narodowy), in whose heart it lies. This otherwise virtually uninhabited area protects the highest part of the mountain range. Together with adjacent areas in Slovakia and the Ukraine, it forms the UNESCO-listed Eastern Carpathians World Biosphere Reserve. Up to a level of 3,772 ft (1,1,150 m), the mountains are covered with atypical Carpathian beech forest, seen at its glorious best when cloaked with autumnal coloring. Beeches account for about 85 per cent of the total number of trees. Firs, sycamores and maples are also indigenous, as are the alders which grow along the banks of the streams. Additionally, there are recent plantations of pine, spruce and larch. Between 3,772 and 3,936 ft (1,150 and 1,200 m) dwarf beeches are found. Higher up there are only the poloniny, bare windswept meadows which are unique in Poland and are primarily responsible for imbuing the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) with an instantly recognizable character. Whortleberries and cowberries grown among the high tufted hairgrass, which for centuries was used for grazing purposes by Boyko farmers.
The lynx is the emblem of the park; other mammals living there include wild cats, wild boar, red and roe deer, brown bears, elks, wolves and European bison, which were re-introduced in the 1960s. Among more than 100 bird species are predators such as eagles, eagle owls, buzzards, vultures and ravens.
A certain amount of the park can be seen by car. From Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Gorne, the Bieszczady (Bieshchady) loop road continues through the middle of the park, then on into the lower western part of the range traditionally inhabited by the Lemkos. Another well surfaced road leads east to the Rozsypaniec pass on the border with the Ukraine. However, the best of the scenery can only be experienced on foot, via the excellent network of marked trails. These are not especially strenuous and present no obvious difficulties, though it is essential to be well prepared for the sudden and sharp changes in weather which are liable to occur on the poloniny. Most walkers base themselves in Ustrzyki Gorne(Ustzhikee Goorne) and make day trips into the mountains. For those wishing to explore the remoter corners, there are several mountain refuges offering overnight accommodation. Additionally, there are more basic shelters and bivouac sites for those with their own tent.
The highest peaks, which together make up the so-called Bieszczady (Bieshchady) Crown, lie east of Ustrzyki Gorne. These comprise Szerocki Wierch (4,159 ft/ 1,268m), Tarnica (4,415 ft/ 1,346m), Krzemien (4,379 ft/1,335m), Kopa Bukowska (4,303ft/ 1,312m), Halicz (4,372 ft/1,333m) and Rozsypaniec (4,175 ft/1,273m). It is possible to combine several of these in one day, following the red path from Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Gorne; the initial approach can be speeded up by driving straight to the Rozsypaniec pass and ascending directly from there. North of the peaks is the wildest and loneliest part of the
park, where the traces of several razed villages can be seen; this area can also be approached by car via the side road from Stuposiany, which lies between Smolnik and Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Grime. The young River San, at this point no more than a stream, forms the continuous frontier with the Ukraine, and should on no account be crossed.
West of Ustrzyki Gorne, the blue trail leads to the summit of Wielka Rawka (4,271 ft/1,302 m) on the border with Slovakia; the return walk can be done comfortably in less than a day. However, the most rewarding scenery in the park lies on the western section of the red trail. This ascends through the woods to the Polonina Carynska, a long ridge whose highest point is (4,254 ft/ 1,297 m), with spectacular views over virtually the whole range. The path traverses this, then descends to the crossroads and bus stop of Brzegi Gorne. It then continues up to the Polinina Wetlinska, where there is a full-equipped mountain refuge. At the far end of this ridge, whose maximum height is (4,110 ft/1,253 m), there is a choice between descending to Wetlina, the tiny alternative resort to Ustrzyki Gorne, or continuing on to the summit of Smerek (4,008 ft/ 1,222 m), from where the path descends to the hamlet of the same name, which lies just outside the park boundaries.
The main resort for the western part of the Bieszczady is Cisna (Tsisna), 22 miles (35 km) north-west of Ustrzyki Gorne, and 22 miles (36 km) south of Lesko. Its main attraction is the narrow-gauge forest railway which starts from the hamlet of Majdan, 1 mile (2 km) to the west and runs for 15 1/2 miles (25 km) along the valleys of the Oslawa and Oslawica. Built by the Austrians in the nineteenth century for military purposes, it is still used by the local logging industry. Between June and September, a special tourist train makes a daily return journey along the entire route, giving the opportunity of seeing some otherwise virtually inaccessible scenery, including several sparkling little forest lakes. Because of the steep gradient, it travels at little faster than walking pace on the outbound Journey.
The northern terminus of the narrow-gauge railway is Rzepedz, (Zhepedzh)which has both a road and a standard gauge rail link with the small industrial town of Zagorz (Zagoozh), midway between Sanok and Lesko. On the west side of the village is a typical Lemko wooden church built in the 1820s. It is used for Uniate worship, and has both an iconostasis and Catholic-style devotional paintings. The church in Turzansk, just over 1/2 mile (1km) east of Rzepedz, is a decade younger and altogether more sophisticated in design, featuring no fewer than six steeples, each crowned with a graceful onion dome. It follows the Orthodox rite, and still preserves its original interior decoration. Another wooden Orthodox church of the same period is in Szczawne, 3 miles (5 km) north of Rzepedz.
Komancza, (Koman'cha) 3 miles (5 km) south-west of Rzepedz, offers a tantalizing reminder of the religious diversity once characteristic of the whole Bieszczady (Bieshchady) region. Despite being no more than a small village, it has four different places of worship, including three parish churches. The large modern building in the center was constructed in the 1980s by the local Uniate majority, who had previously made an unsuccessful petition for the early nineteenth-century wooden church at the western end of the village, which is currently used by the Orthodox community. At the opposite end of the village is another wooden church, built in the 1950s by the Roman Catholic newcomers. About 1/2 mile (1km) further north is the convent of the Nazarene Sisters, where Poland's redoubtable post-war Primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, lived under house arrest from 1955-6, the latter part of the 3-year internment imposed by the Communist authorities for his opposition to the regime. The church is now something of a shrine to his memory, attracting large numbers of Polish pilgrims.

The Eastern Beskid Niski and Pogorze
Immediately west of Rzepedz and Komancza, the Bieszczady gives way to another mountain range, the Beskid Niski (literally, the Low Beskids). This is divided into western and eastern sections, marking both the geographical division of the East and West Carpathians, and the historical boundary between Red Ruthenia and Little Poland, which also cut through the Pogorze, (Pogoozhe) the foothills immediately to the north. The eastern sections of the Beskid Niski and the Pogorze see very little foreign tourism. Scenically, they are totally eclipsed by the Bieszczady and by the mountains further to the west, though there are a few notable historic towns.
The lowest crossing-point anywhere in the Carpathians is the Dukla Pass, a frontier post between Poland and Slovakia which was the scene of bloody battles in both World Wars, the latter of which was responsible for over 100,000 casualties. A further 11 miles (17 km) north is Dukla itself, which is 28 miles (46km) from Komancza, and linked to it both by main road and by a hiking trail marked with red stripes which traverses virtually the whole of the eastern part of the Beskid Niski. Despite its strategic importance, Dukla has never been much more than a village, and it only has a couple of historic sights. Of these, the parish church is notable for its unusually complete late eighteenth-century decoration, including two chapels founded by the local grandees, the Mniszech family. The former Mniszech Palace is now the Regional Museum, whose historical displays predictably focus on the battles fought at the nearby pass.
Bobrka, located down a side road some 7 miles (12 km) north of Dukla, is an improbable claimant to the title of cradle of the international petroleum industry. In 1854, a local engineer, Ignacy Lukasiewicz, inventor of the kerosene lamp and of a method for refining oil, sank what may have been the world's first oil well at a site south of the village. Others soon followed and some of these remain in operation to this day, despite their rudimentary technology. The original well and its derrick form the centerpiece of the Museum of the Oil Industry, an interesting variant on the familiar skansen format.
Krosno, 6 miles (10 km) north of Bobrka, and 25 miles (40km) west of Sanok, is nowadays the main petroleum center in Poland, though it only produces a fraction of the country's requirements. The town is also a leading glass manufacturer. Within the inevitable industrial sprawl, the small historic core provides a reminder of the town's early days as a staging post on the trading routes between Cracow and Russia. On the Rynek are the old municipal pillory and a number of arcaded houses. The Wojtowska Mansion at number 12 preserves its original Renaissance appearance, but most of the others were rebuilt in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Just off the south-east corner of the square is the Franciscan church, which boasts a number of fine tombs of local notables, including that of Jan Kamieniecki, which was carved by the Italian Renaissance master Giovanni Maria Mosca, sculptor at the royal court in Cracow. The rich stucco of the Oswiecim family chapel is by another prominent Italian-born craftsman, Giovanni Battista Falconi, best-known for his work at Lancut. On ul. Pilsudskiego is the parish church, originally Gothic, but with a Baroque overlay. At the top end of the same street, the former Bishop's Palace houses the Regional Museum, which is mainly devoted to the two main local industries, the highpoint being an impressive collection of historic kerosene lamps.
Haczow, on a side road 6 miles (10 km) east, boasts the oldest and largest timber church in Poland. Although the belfry and the exterior gallery were not added until the 1620's, the nave and chancel date from around 1450. The exceptional width of the former necessitated the construction of aisles, which are rarely encountered in wooden architecture. Outside are carved corbels in the shape of human masks, while inside are murals of the Passion of Christ and the Life of the Virgin.
Several other notable old wooden churches can be seen in the villages just to the east on the main Sanok to Rzeszow (Zheshoov) road. That at Humniska, 9 miles (15 km) from Haczow, is sixteenth-century, as is its counterpart in Blizne 4 miles (7km) to the north, which retains its original painted interior. From the latter, a side road leads 2 miles (3 km) west to Jasienica Rosielna, whose eighteenth-century church has Rococo decoration. Back on the main road, another sixteenth-century church can be seen at Domaradz, a road junction 4 miles (7km) north of Blizne; this village also has an eighteenth-century inn.

Further Information
Red Ruthenia
Places to Visit

Mniszech Palace (Regional Museum)
Open: May to September Tuesday to
Sunday 9 am to 5 p.m., October to April
Tuesday to Sunday 9 am to 3 p.m.

Orsetti Mansion (Regional Museum) Rynek
Open: Tuesday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 2 p.m., Friday 10 am to 6 p.m..

Regional Museum
ul. Pilsudskiego 16
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 3 p.m..

Diocesan Museum
ul. Katedralna
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 3 p.m..

Regional Museum
ul. Katedralna
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 2 p.m., Thursday 10 am to 5 p.m., Friday 10 am to 6 p.m..

Rzeszow (Zheshoov)
Ethnographic Museum
Rynek 6
Open: Tuesday to Thursday 9 am to
2 p.m., Friday 9 am to 5 p.m..

Regional Museum
ul. 3 Maja 19
Open: Tuesday and Friday 10 am to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 am to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 2 p.m..

Castle (Historical Museum)
ul. Zamkowa
Open: 15 April to 15 October Tuesday
9 am to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday
9 am to 5 p.m..
Museum of Folk Architecture
Biala Gora
Open: 15 April to 15 October Tuesday
to Sunday 8 am to 5 p.m., 16 October to
14 April Tuesday to Sunday 9 am to
2 p.m..

Ustrzyki (Ustzhikee) Dolne
Bieszczady National Park Museum
ul. Belzka 7
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 9 am to 2 p.m..

Little Poland: (Malopolska)
The Western Carpathians

The southern part of the old Krakowska province of Little Poland consists of the foothills and mountains of the Western Carpathians (Karpaty Zachodnie). Ever since tourism first became a popular activity around the middle of the nineteenth century, this has ranked among the most popular holiday destinations anywhere in Central Europe and rightly so, as it contains a wealth of scenery which is considerably more varied than might be expected of such a compact geographical area.
Each of the separate mountain ranges has a distinctive character of its own. The crystalline High Tatras are the loftiest and most imposing part of the entire Carpathian chain and, together with the quite different but almost equally beautiful West Tatras, are still a virtually uninhabited wilderness area. A short distance to the east is the limestone range of the Pieniny, which is equally popular with visitors, largely because of the spectacular raft trip that can be taken through the Dunajec (Dunayets) gorge.
The whole of the Tatras and the main part of the Pieniny have been accorded national park status. This honor has also been conferred on the central part of the Gorce and the Babia Gora massif in the Beskid Wysoki, and is due to be given to the Magura range in the we stem Beskid Niski. None of these is at all well-known outside Poland, and are thus ideal destinations for those who want to get really off the beaten tourist track. The other important range is the Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski), whose recuperative spa resorts offer an antidote to the more strenuous pursuits associated with its counterparts.
By far the most developed resort in the Western Carpathians, one which even during the Communist years was a regular fixture in English-language tourist brochures, is Zakopane. One of only a handful of places in the region large enough to be called a town, it lies directly below the Tatras, but also has the benefit of easy access to the other ranges, all of which are feasible targets of day trips. There are surprisingly few hotels in any of the other resorts, though plenty of accommodation is available in holiday homes which were formerly owned by trade unions, and in private houses, which display signs with the legend pokoj or noclegi if they have rooms to rent.
While it is possible to gain at least some acquaintance with the beauty spots of the region through traveling by car or by public transport, this is the one part of Poland where it is essential to walk to see the best of the scenery. Color-coded trails comb all the ranges, and in the national park areas it is mandatory to stick to these waymarked paths. Decent footwear is a prerequisite when walking in the Carpathians, even although most paths present no technical difficulties. There are, it is true, some challenging routes, particularly in the Tatras, but even this range has plenty of easy low-level walks which are often equally rewarding. For those who wish to tackle some of the more ambitious routes, and do not want to have to return to a resort every night, there is a network of mountain refuges in each range, usually located in picturesque wooden chalets. Accommodation is basic and cheap, and is mostly in dormitories. Guests are never tamed away, no matter how busy they might be.
Highly detailed maps of each range are available locally and elsewhere in Poland at a minimal cost: in addition to detailed local information, they show the course of all the trails very clearly. One important point to remember is that the international frontier with Slovakia cuts right through the Western Carpathians, often along mountain ridges, but that it is forbidden to cross over to the other side at anywhere other than an official border post.

The Western Beskid Niski and Pogorze

(Pogoozhe). The Beskid Niski and its foothills, the Pogorze, are divided into two sections, and mark the geographical transition from the Eastern to the Western Carpathians, as well as the historic boundary between Red Ruthenia and Little Poland. Poles settled in the westem Pogorze in the early Middle Ages, but the Beskid Niski remained virtually uninhabited until much later, being settled mainly by the Ruthenian ethnic group known as the Lemkos. They retain a presence in the area, and indeed have staged something of a cultural revival since the fall of Communism. The most visible signs of their presence are their distinctive wooden churches, which can be found in the majority of villages throughout the Beskid Niski. Most were built for the Uniate rite, though many have since been taken over for Roman Catholic worship or for secular use. Wooden churches, this time built by ethnic Poles of Catholic faith, are a feature of the Pogorze, and indeed of the Carpathian foothills in general. These are far more obviously "western" in appearance, though they have likewise changed very little in style down the centuries.
The oldest town in the Pogorze is Biecz. It was a place of some importance in the Middle Ages, thanks to its pivotal setting on the trade routes between Cracow and Hungary, and also had a morbid claim to fame as the seat of a school of public executioners. However, it was by-passed by the industrial development which affected many of the neighboring towns, and now has a delightfully decayed appearance, its surviving historic buildings appearing incongruously grandiose for what is now little more than a village.
Of these, the finest is the parish church, which is set in a large enclosure with a detached belfry and a Renaissance entrance gate. Building began in the fourteenth century, but was not completed until the 1520's, resulting in a late Gothic hall design with elaborate net vaults. Inside are some outstanding late Renaissance and early Baroque furnishings, including the tomb of the magnate Mikolaj Ligeza, the high altar, the choir stalls, and the pulpit, which is adorned with relief carvings of musicians.
On the Rynek just to the west is the Town Hall, which is crowned by a tall slender Renaissance tower with a Baroque top. North of the church is the most substantial surviving section of the medieval wall. Another part of the fortifications encloses the burgher's mansion on ul. Wegierska to the south, which now contains part of the local museum. Its star attraction is an intact pharmacy with attached laboratory; ethnological exhibits and a collection of old musical instruments are also on display. A branch of the museum, focusing on local history, occupies another Renaissance mansion on nearby ul. Kromera.
Binarowa, 2 miles (4km) north-west of Biecz, has an attractive wooden church which is thought to date from around 1500. Its interior is completely covered with paintings: the ornamental polychromy on the vault dates from around the time of the church's construction, while the scenes on the walls were not added until the mid-seventeenth century. There are also some good furnishings, including a painted pulpit and folksy fifteenth-century carving of the Madonna and Child. Wojtowa, a similar distance south of Biecz, also has a wooden church, which is likewise sixteenth-century in date.
Gorlice (Gorlitseh), nowadays the largest town in the area, lies 8 1/2 miles (14km) south-west of Biecz (Byech). Its main claim to fame is as the place where Ignacy Lukasiewicz carried out his pioneering experiments in oil refining in the early 1850s, prior to sinking the world's first oil well in Bobrka in the eastern Be skid Niski. The town's museum, located just off the Rynek on ul. Waska, is primarily devoted to Lukasiewicz and the local oil industry. Although not in itself attractive, Gorlice is the main hiking base for the western Beskid Niski, which otherwise has very little in the way of accommodation, other than a few mountain refuges.
Sekowa, which lies just beyond the northern fringe of the Beskid Niski, 3 miles (5 km) south of Gorlice, boasts the most southerly of the wooden churches originally built for Catholic use. The main body of the building, whose most prominent feature is its magnificent plunging roof, was constructed in the 1520's; the bell tower and the covered verandahs were not added until the seventeenth century. Known as soboty (literally, 'Saturdays'), the latter were built to shelter worshippers from isolated farms who arrived in the village late on Saturday night in order to participate in the early mass the following morning.
Part of the western Beskid Niski is due to be designated as the Magura National Park (Magurski Park Narodowy). The most valuable natural features of the intended park are the rock bastions, which are in various stages of decay, and the forests, which include many trees which are several centuries old. Over one hundred different birds nest in the area, including eagles, buzzards and woodpeckers, while indigenous animals include beavers, otters, wolves, lynxes and wildcats. From Gorlice, the blue trail goes southwards, skirting west of Sekowa prior to traversing Magura Malastowska, the western of the two hill ranges in the park. The green trail goes south-east from Gorlice via the other range, the Magura Watkowska, meeting up with the main red trail, which traverses the entire Beskid Niski, at the summit of Watkowa (2,775 ft/846m). A little further south is the junction with the blue trail.
At the southern end of the Magura Watkowska (Vontkovska)is the village of Krempna, which lies 25 miles (40km) south-east of Gorlice on the bank of the still-young Wisloka, a major tributary of the Vistula. Its wooden church, originally Uniate but now Catholic, dates back to the second half of the eighteenth century. The iconostasis from the same period is preserved inside, along with a fragment of another from the previous Orthodox church on the site.
Wooden churches can also be seen in three adjacent villages. That in Kotan, 1/2 miles (3 km) to the west of Krempna, stands in total isolation to the north of the village. It was also built in the eighteenth century, but no longer has its iconostasis, which is now in the Icon Museum in Lancut. The church in Swiatkowa Mala, a further 3 km west, is a century older and has recently regained its partially-preserved iconostasis. Its counterpart in its twin community of Swiatkowa Wielka, /2 mile (1km) to the north, is much larger and once again eighteenth-century in date.
Moving westwards from Gorlice, the first interesting village is the straggling community of Szymbark, some 5 miles (8km) away. In addition to a now-disused eighteenth-century wooden church, this has a small Ethnographic Park containing a number of reassembled rural buildings, including two windmills, two manor houses and several peasants' cottages. The 3 miles (5 km) separating Szymbark and Bielanka to the south mark both a geographical and an ethnic transition, the latter being a leading center of Lemko culture. Not only does it have a wooden church in the typical Lemko style, it is also home to a song and dance troupe which regularly tours abroad.

The Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski)

The Beskid Sadecki , the next mountain range to the west, is somewhat higher than the Beskid Niski, with several peaks of over 3,280 ft (1,000 m). Nonetheless, it is best known as a place for recuperative holidays, being rich in mineral springs and having one of the two main concentrations of spa resorts in Poland. The Dunajec (Dunayets), one of the country's best-known rivers, separates it from the Podhale and Pieniny, while one of its tributaries, the Kamienica, forms the border with the Beskid Niski. Another Dunajec tributary, the Poprad, cuts right through the heart of the Beskid Sadecki , dividing it into eastern and western sections, the Pasmo Radziejowiej and the Pasmo Jaworzyny. A loop road, which closely hugs one or other river valley for almost its entire length, goes all the way round the latter, giving easy access to all places of interest in the range. The Beskid Sadecki is the westernmost territory inhabited by the Lemkos, and thus also the most westerly outpost in Europe of Eastern Orthodoxy. Many of the villages, particularly in the south of the range, have wooden churches in the characteristic Lemko style, though most surviving examples date back only to last century and are seldom the equal of those to be found in the Beskid Niski and Bieszczady (Bieshchady).
By far the largest town in the region is Nowy Sacz (Sonch), which lies above the confluence of the Dunajec (Dunayets) and Poprad, 25 miles (40 km) west of Gorlice. Despite its name , it has already celebrated its 700th anniversary, though it preserves only a handful of notable historic monuments and is primarily of interest for its museums and as a touring base. The Rynek, which has a bombastic Town Hall in the middle dating from the end of the nineteenth century, is the largest main square in the country after that of Cracow. A couple of blocks to the west is the Franciscan church, which still preserves much of its original Gothic shape. The parish church of St. Margaret, just off the eastern side of the square, has not been so fortunate, having been subject to frequent alterations which have left it as a stylistic hotchpotch.
On the latter's southern side is the Gothic House, a former ecclesiastical residence which is now home to the Regional Museum. This contains several hundred works by the Lemko artist Nikifors, who gained an international reputation for the naive paintings he executed between the end of World War II and his death in 1968. Another highlight is an important collection of fifteenth- to eighteenth-century icons brought from the former Orthodox and Uniate churches of the region, many showing an obvious debt to Roman Catholic art. There are also a few examples of the work of the local fifteenth-century painters who formed, in conjunction with their counterparts in Cracow, the first recognizable Polish school of painting. Finally, the museum has an extensive array of folk art of the region, most of it with religious subject matter.
On ul. Joselewicza to the north of the Rynek is the former synagogue, which dates back to the seventeenth century and was later a leading center of the revivalist Hassidic movement. It has lost its internal decoration and now serves as a commercial art gallery. Another gallery has been set up within the ruins of the castle beyond, which commands a fine view over the Dunajec (Dunayets). Built in the fourteenth century for King Kazimierz the Great, it was blown up by the retreating Nazis at the end of World War II.
The Ethnographic Park, one of the best skansens in Poland, lies 1 1/2 miles (3 km) east of the town center in the district of Falkowa. It is due to expand considerably in the future, but around fifty redundant rural buildings have already been re-erected on the hilly site, and the interiors of a dozen or so of these, all of which are furnished in the appropriate style, can also be visited. They are grouped according to ethnographic regions, and include a special section devoted to Gypsy culture.
Nowy Sacz (Sonch)'s older sister town of Stary Sacz (Sonch) lies 6 miles (10 km) south, high above the Poprad, just before it joins the Dunajec (Dunayets). Its cobbled Rynek is among the quaintest squares in the country: the houses, which are only one or two story high, mostly date from the eighteenth century, and one of them contains a delightfully ramshackle local museum. To the south is the parish church, a Gothic building with Baroque decoration. More significant is the fortified convent of the Poor Clares to the east, which was founded in 1280 by the Blessed Kinga, widow of King Boleslaw the Chaste. The Baroque frescos in the nave depict scenes from the life of the foundress, whose statue can be seen in the chapel devoted to her memory. Opposite the latter is the seventeenth-century pulpit, which incorporates a florid carving of the Tree of Jesse.
Rytro, 6 miles (10 km) up the Poprad from Stary Sacz (Sonch), is a small resort crowned by the ruins of a medieval castle. Its central location within the Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski) makes it the best base for those wanting to make long hikes within the range. The western section of the red trail traverses the entire Pasmo Radziejowe, terminating at Kroscienko at the foot of the Pieniny. It goes via several peaks, including Radziejowa (4,139 ft/1,262m), the highest peak in the entire range. The green trail also goes all the way across the Pasmo Radziejowej, ending up at Szczawnica (Shchavneetsa). There is a junction with the red trail at Przehyba (3,854 ft/ 1,175 m), enabling walkers to make a day-long circular trip from Rytro, with the alternative of stopping for the night at the refuge below the summit. The eastern part of the red trail crosses the Pasmo Jaworzyny via many of its main peaks, with two refuges en route; the first stage of this can likewise be used as the start of a circular walk. These trails, like all those in the Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski), are officially classified as easy, and present no special technical difficulties.
At Piwniczna, an alternative and slightly larger resort 3 miles (5 km) beyond Rytro, the road down the left bank of the Poprad leads on to an official border crossing into Slovakia, 1 1/2 miles (3 km) further south. To continue round the Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski) loop, it is necessary to cross over to the right bank of the river, which for the next 15 miles (25 km) or so serves as the international frontier. Zegiestow, 9 miles (15 km) upstream from Piwniczna, is divided into two distinct parts, with a spa quarter by the Poprad and an old village, complete with a wooden church, up the little valley to the north. Two of the following villages, Andrzejowka and Milik, likewise have Lemko churches; the former is on the main road, the latter lies up the valley of the same name.
A further 1/2 miles (3 km) on is Muszyna, a popular spa resort located on a short stretch of the Poprad which lies entirely within Polish territory, at the river's confluence with the Muszynka. The ruined castle dates back to the beginning of the fourteenth century, while a seventeenth-century inn in the town center now houses the Regional Museum, with displays on local arts and crafts. Muszyna was for nearly half a millennium the property of the bishops of Cracow, and hence its parish church, which was built in the seventeenth century, has always been used for Roman Catholic worship.
Most of the nearby villages, on the other hand, have traditionally been inhabited by Lemkos who adhered to the Uniate faith. In the three tiny valleys north of Muszyna are the villages of Szczawnik, Zlockie and Jastrzebik, which each have a nineteenth-century wooden church complete with original iconostasis. However, the finest and oldest wooden church in the Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski) is in Powroznik, 5 km from Muszyna along the loop road, which at this point starts to double back towards Nowy Sacz (Sonch). Built in the I 640s, the Powroznik church is a classic example of the Lemko style, with three onion domes of diminishing size. The central panel of the eighteenth-century iconostasis has been removed to make way for a Roman Catholic altar, but some older icons are preserved on the main walls, while the sacristy preserves murals from around the time of the church's construction.
Krynica (Krineetsa), Poland's most famous spa, lies 3 1/2 miles (6km) north of Powroznik at the terminus of the branch railway from Nowy Sacz (Sonch), which closely follows the course of the loop road already described. Strung out along the wooded valley of the Kryniczanka, a tributary of the Muszynka, at an average altitude of around 1,968 ft (600m), it first came to prominence in the middle of the nineteenth century, and soon developed into one of the most fashionable watering-holes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the advent of Communism, it inevitably lost some of its luster, but it is once again making a determined pitch at the foreign tourist market. Other than Zakopane, it is probably the Polish resort most commonly featured in package holiday brochures, profiting from the fact that it has a winter sports season in addition to its main summertime business of catering for walkers and recuperative holiday makers.
The life of the town centers around its pump rooms, the principal one being on the main promenade, al. Nowotarskiego. Usually around ten different local mineral waters can be sampled there. Of these, the purple-brown Zuber has the reputation of being the most concentrated to be found anywhere in Europe, containing 24 grams of solid matter per litter. Towards the northern end of the promenade is the valley station of the funicular railway which ascends to the summit of the Gora Parkowa (2,430 ft/741 m), which can also be reached from the town center via the blue trail.
For a more ambitious walk, the obvious goal is Jaworzyna (3,654 ft/ 1,114 m), the highest point in the Pasmo Jaworzyny, with a mountain refuge below the summit. It can be reached either by the green trail from the north of Krynica (Kryneetsa), or by the red trail from the southern part of town, the latter being the first stage of the path all the way across the range to Rytro.
Also within easy access of Krynica (Krynitsa/Krynytsya) are several small Lemko villages. Mochnaczka-Nizna (Mokhnachka-Nizhna), 3 miles (5 km) to the north-east and reachable either by road or by the eastern section of the red trail, has two wooden churches, one from the mid-nineteenth century in the northern part of the village and a smaller one from the late eighteenth century towards the southern end. There are also two churches in Tylicz, 3 miles (5 km) south along the valley of the Mochnaczka (Mokhnachka), which historically had a mixed Polish and Lemko population. The Catholic church dates back to the early seventeenth century, whereas its Uniate counterpart, nowadays the cemetery chapel, was built in the late eighteenth century. Tylicz is equally accessible from Powroznik via a road along the serpentine course of the Muszynka, or from Krynica (Kryneetsa) either by road or by following the red or green trails east, then switching to the black trail. A further 1 1/2 miles (3 km) south-east is Muszynka, which is located near the well-head of the eponymous river, and is centered on a fine late seventeenth-century wooden church.

The Pieniny

The Pieniny (Pyeneeny) is a small and particularly beautiful chain which stands out from the other Carpathian mountains in being formed predominantly of limestone. Below its jagged white peaks are thickly wooded slopes, which look particularly glorious when cloaked in autumnal reds and golds. There are three distinct parts to the chain, each of which is divided by the frontier with Slovakia. The main central section, the Pieniny Wlasciwe, is separated from the Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski) to the east by the River Dunajec (Dunayets), which also forms a spectacular gorge - a truly great natural wonder which has long been one of Poland's most popular tourist attractions along the international border to the south. To the east is the Male Pieniny (literally 'Small Pieniny') which lies across the Dunajec (Dunayets), divided from the Beskid Sadecki (Sondetski) by the valley of the Grajcarek. Finally, the Pieniny Spiskie lies across the Dunajec from the south-western end of the Pieniny Wlasciwe, and forms the northern part of a small, time-warped rural region known as the Spisz, which historically belonged to Hungary and was populated mainly by Slovaks.
Although most tourists come on day trips from Zakopane, there are two little resort towns within the Pieniny catering for holiday makers. Kroscienko, which lies 21 1/2 miles (35 km) south-west of Stary Sacz (Sonch) on the main route between Nowy Sacz (Sonch) and Zakopane is, on balance, the better base for those wishing to walk in the range, as it has a bridge over the Dunajec (Dunayets) and hence ready access to the trailheads. Szczawnica (Shchavneetsa), 3 miles (5 km) to the south at the confluence of the Grajcarek with the Dunajec (Dunayets), is a slightly more characterful place, with some nice old wooden houses and spa buildings in the eastern part of town. Its big disadvantage is that the only way of crossing the Dunajec is via the seasonal ferry, which stops operating in the late afternoon.
On the other hand, Szczawnica (Shchavneetsa) offers ready access to the Male Pieniny, which actually has the highest peak in the range, Wysoki Skalki (3,444ft/ 1 ,050 m). This lies right on the Slovak border, and is an easy ascent via the green trail from Jaworki, 4 miles (7 km) up the Grajcarek from Szczawnica (Shchavneetsa). This trail passes through a fine deep ravine, the Wawoz Homole, which lies immediately south of the village. Yaworki is itself of interest for its late eighteenth-century wooden church, the most westerly surviving example of the characteristic architectural style of the Lemkos. It passed from the Uniates to the Catholics after World War II, but still preserves its iconostasis.
Most of the Pieniny Wlasciwe has been designated as the Pieniny National Park (Pieninski Park Narodowy). .............................


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