For the past year I’ve stumbled upon blog posts titled “the most beautiful village in Poland” on various blogs and portals. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the village was close to the city my family lives in, Krakow! I had no choice but to to check if Zalipie was worth all the hype.
Zalipie is know for its hundred years old tradition of decorating the houses with colourful flowers and plants. It was started by Felicja Curylowa who first decorated her home for Catholic feast called Corpus Christi, held in the beginning of summer. The other ladies in Zalipie liked the idea and painted their houses as well. It’s not a forgotten custom though, every year a competition for the most beautiful house is held with more than 100 people taking part! The rules of the contest are harsh though, as contestants have to remove the previous year’s designs from their walls.
I arrived in Zalipie one perfect August afternoon, after driving a little more than an hour from Krakow (sadly, it’s hard to get there without a car). The village is surrounded by lush green cornfields. After a while you start to see the painted houses but also wells, dog kennels, buckets, tables, bridges, even trees! There’s a small museum of Felicja Curylowa where you can see her beautiful folk artworks and another place called “Dom Malarek” (The House of Painters) with modern displays from other folk artists living in Zalipie.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t see the flowers on every house though! Zalipie is not an open-air museum and painting the walls is not compulsory for its residents. It’s more of a fun tradition they’ve developed. Also, not everyone would like you to take pictures of their house, please ask the owners first :)
Anyway, I can confirm Zalipie is one of the most perfect Polish villages I’ve ever seen and if you ever visit Lesser Poland please make time for Zalipie :)
All the pictures in this post are mine.