It was eight o’clock in the morning, and the thermometer read a cozy six below zero as we embarked on our trip to Zalipie and Tarnow. We were waiting for the car that would take us to our first destination on the route we had for today, Zalipie.
By the way, we have yet to look for information about it. We did not know where we were going or what we would see. We had been told that it was worth it.
Then we spent the rest of the morning and afternoon in a medieval town called Tarnów.
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Zalipie And The Painted Houses
Our spirits had dropped a bit, to tell the truth.
Of our own free will, we decided to visit places that inevitably make us reflect and sometimes lose faith in human beings.
Undoubtedly, it was one of those moments when one needs a little joy, not too much, just the right amount.
When we arrived in Zalipie, we found a village of scattered houses. It is not a typical village as we are used to where the houses are crowded around a square and the church.
Here the houses are far apart from each other. We stop on a frozen dirt road in front of Felicja Curylo’s museum house.
Zalipie’s Felicja Curylo’s House-Museum
In Zalipie, you have to see the painted houses. There are many, but surely the most important is the house of Felicja Curylo.
Indeed, this woman did not come up with the idea of painting the houses this way. It had already been done since the 18th century, but she was the one who made this type of art and custom known beyond the local area.
The custom of painting houses was born in the interior of the houses.
I can attest to how cold it gets in winter in these places, so the fireplace was one of the most important parts of the house. So make sure you pack winter clothing when you are visiting during the cold season.
Here the fireplace has a special shape as it serves as a chimney, a kitchen, and sometimes as a bed, so you do not freeze while you sleep.
Soot on the walls was our daily bread, and the walls inside the house were whitewashed at least once a year to cover it up.
Floral motifs were used in paints to decorate the interior. In the beginning, it would be like a border or something similar. As time went by, the complexity of the decoration developed until it reached what we can see today.
The house is preserved as it was when the artist lived there, without modifications. While the walls and fireplace are very brightly colored, the ceiling decoration is monochromatic paint. It is black and white.
According to her granddaughters and great-granddaughters, it was through the ceiling that Felicja began to paint. She does not have a refined technique or a clear knowledge of what she has to do.
The exterior is painted on pink background with blue details. Finding a house like this is unexpected in the middle of nowhere.
But it is not the only one. Right in front of it, there is another house that is also beautiful, tastefully decorated, and fantastically well-painted.
Almost every wall is a work of art that we can help to snap as many photos as possible. If you want to carry a camera, you can use this bag with an XL camera cube to carry your necessary items.
The House of Culture of Zalipie and the Women Painters
We had been surprised by the visit, and our mood was already different. I must say, Pawel, our excellent guide, decided that we had to go to the cultural house in Zalipie and meet the women painters.
We had no idea where we were going, and we did not lose anything by going.
It almost seemed that they were more embarrassed about it than we were. They looked at each other sideways and smiled or laughed as we took the occasional half stolen half posed photo. They invited us for hot coffee and left us to observe their work.
They paint all kinds of things, vases, handicrafts, and paintings. And it is their way of life, as they sell them to earn money.
They had the living room decorated in the style of the area, and I loved the entrance and some of the rooms.
From Zalipie to Tarnow: Dabrowa Tarnowska and Synagogue
The origin of this city dates back to the end of the last ice age, although historically, it was not documented until the 15th century. Its name means “Oak woods near Tarnów.”
On the way from Zalipie to Tarnów, we decided to stop to visit the synagogue.
It is a museum of the Jewish reality and its history and customs, although, as we had already been told, there are almost no Jews left in Poland. In this city, the vast majority were killed, and only about a hundred returned after the war.
You can see the lower part, or first floor, where the men prayed, and the upper floor, where the women prayed. There is also a multitude of objects and souvenirs.
The Medieval City of Tarnów
I have wanted to write about Tarnów for a long time. I love the city. Do not expect great things, monuments, or churches because you will not find them here, although they have their particularities.
But I did find the quiet city that preserves its identity and history, and the people are particularly friendly.
The Town Square and the Town Hall Tower
It is considered one of the smallest in Poland, but it is still stunning. It is simple, sober, and has the town hall tower in the center. It is from the 15th century and is now a museum. We had the opportunity to enter and visit it.
You can see paintings, jewelry, details, documents, and weapons of the history of this city.
We were also able to dress up in costumes! The houses surrounding the square are from the Renaissance period. The most beautiful are the ones with arcades and porches.
The Cathedral Basilica
It is the main church of Tarnów. Inside are the most significant sculpted funeral monuments in Poland. They correspond to the Tarnowski and Ostrogski families, facing each other.
On the outside of the basilica, you can see a sculpture of Pope John Paul II.
Right before the Tarnów Cathedral is the Mijotajowski House, the oldest house in the city and dates back to 1524.
It was built using the wall erected by Herman Tarnowski, using it as one of the house’s walls. Today, it is the diocesan museum.
Bimah Remains of the Synagogue
This monument is a remnant of the city’s synagogue left standing by the Germans.
The Ethnographic Museum
It is a museum dedicated to gypsy culture and history in Poland. It is a relatively small museum dedicated exclusively to this society that spread throughout Europe, from Romania to the Netherlands.
You can see their culture and traditions, how they used to dress, and what some of their ceremonies are like. Their typical wagons, etc.
This was the place where I spent the most time. It caught my attention because the tombstones are piled up and disorderly. Because the Germans used them to pave the streets.
They subsequently retrieved them and placed them as best they could. I was very struck by the lack of humanity required to treat the memory of the deceased in this way.
It was getting dark and snowing heavily, so we had to start our way back to Krakow.
We made good use of the day by visiting Zalipie and Tarnów, two fascinating visits.
How to Get to Zalipie and Tarnow
You can only book a hotel in Krakow, so going to Tarnow can take time and effort. So most people travel via a day tour with pick up from the hotel. Here are some ways to travel between these two beautiful places, like the locals.
Bus to Zalipie and Tarnow
You can reach Tarnow via bus ride from Krakow. You can buy a bus ticket from Krakow bus station to Tarnow here for only 5 €. But to go to Zalipie, you must ride the Euro Plawecki Trans Bus from Tarnow to Bieniaszowice.
Zalipie and Tarnow Day Trips
Another way to go to Zalipie and Tarnow is through day trips or tours. Most guided tours come with a pick up from your hotel option to save you from going through booking transportation.
From Krakow: Zalipie & Tarnow Tour
This tour takes you to Zalipie and Tarnow and two more places in Poland: Malopolska and Bochnia. The tour includes an English tour guide and pick up from Krakow. You can reserve a seat for the tour online.
From Krakow to Zalipie
Travel Insurance for Your Zalipie and Tarnow Trip
Poland is safe for tourists, but we always buy travel insurance to be safe, especially when traveling to one to two places during a trip.
Luckily, nothing bad happened to us, and the whole trip was an unforgettable experience. But having travel insurance also made us feel safe in case of emergencies. When you click this link, you get 5% off your travel insurance and add more coverage.
Plan Your Trip to Poland
- Itinerary to Visit Poland in 7 days
- What to See in Warsaw in 2 days
- The Warsaw Ghetto
- What to See in Krakow
- Visiting the Old Town of Krakow
- Visit the Salt Mines
- Visiting the Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Last Updated on 7 September, 2023 by Veronica