Macroregion Eastern Poland is an important cultural and scientific area of the country. Rich cultural offer and well maintained tourist base have been a priority. Numerous theatres, museums, historical remains and folk art sites, which best promote Eastern Poland , can be found almost everywhere. A wide variety of festivals, concerts, exhibitions and artistic initiatives will satisfy everyone’s taste and liking. Young people wishing to enjoy the privilege of higher education have several prestigious universities and attractive faculties to choose from, because each voivodeship takes pride in having excellent universities and colleges. Large-scale investments are made in technology and education, what attracts more and more students and contributes to competitiveness of Polish education.
Eastern Poland as a factory of tourist attractions
There are many concerts, festivals, exhibitions and cultural events of different sort organized in the whole Macroregion which show the richness and variety of Eastern Poland’s culture.
Having entered the contest for the title of European Capital of Culture of 2016 Lublin organizes lots of cultural events: Jarmark Jagielloński (Jagiellonian Fair), acrobatic and juggler festival Carnaval Sztuk-Mistrzów (Magician’s Carnival), Lubelski Wrzesień Muzyczny (Lublin Musical September), Festiwal Literacki Miasto Poezji (“the City of Poetry” Literary Festival), and also at the borders of different cultures: Wielokulturowy Lublin (Multicultural Lublin), Noc Świętojańska (Midsummer Night), Noc Kultury (the Night of Culture), “Open City” Art Festival in public area, Międzynarodowe Spotkania Folklorystyczne im. I. Wachowiaka (Ignacy Wachowiak International Days of Folklore), Fiesta Alegria, Europejski Festiwal Smaku (European Taste Festival) and Międzynarodowe Biennale Wschodni Salon Sztuki (Eastern Art Salon – International Biennial). The Night of Culture deserves to be distinguish as it is an excellent manifestation of the city’s artistic capabilities. From an early afternoon till the dawn the streets get filled with professional artists, culture animators, Lublin institutions and cultural organizations. There are concerts on building roofs and in courtyards; there are performances and happenings at squares and alleys, spectacles at the gates or at the city fountains and fashion shows on the stairs of offices.
Eastern Poland fosters its roots; therefore the inhabitants organize folk events such as: Ogólnopolski Festiwal Kapel i Śpiewaków (the Folk Festival of Bands and Singers), Targi Sztuki Ludowej in Kazimierz Dolny (Polish Folk Art Trade in Kazimierz Dolny), Międzynarodowe Poleskie Lato z Folklorem in Włodawa (the International Folklore Summer Festival in Polesie in Włodawa), Ogólnopolski Sejmik Teatrów Wsi Polskiej in Tarnogród (the National Meeting of Polish Village Theatres in Tarnogród) or Ogólnopolskie Spotkania Kowali i Ogólnopolskie Targi Sztuki Kowalskiej in Wojciechów (the National Meeting of Blacksmiths and the National Trade of Blacksmith Art in Wojciechów). Gourmets will be interested in Gryczaki in Janów (the Buckwheat Festival in Janów), Święto Pieczonego Ziemniaka in Tomaszów Lubelski (the Baked Potato Celebration in Tomaszów Lubelski) and the celebration of bear, Chmielaki in Krasnystaw (the National Festival of Hop Growers and Brewers in Krasnystaw).
Every summer a lot of tourists come for Dymarki Świętokrzyskie devoted to the presentation of steel metallurgy research results in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. On such an occasion exhibitions are staged and well known bands give concerts. To accent the regional culture the local folk bands and the Dance Theatre in Kielce give shows.
Other cultural events taking place in different cities are the following: Narwiańska Jesień (the Narwia Autumn), Ogólnopolski Dzień Ogórka (The National Cucumber Day), Jarmark Jesienny (Autumn Fair), Salon Literacki w Muzeum Wnętrz Pałacowych in Choroszcz (Literature Salon in the Palace Indoor Museum in Choroszcz), Dni Choroszczy (the Days of Choroszcz) and Dni Białegostoku (the Days of Białystok); these events host a lot of well known Polish bands.
The ideal place for music lovers wishing to relax are Warmia and Masuria as three important musical festivals take place there: rock festival in Węgorzów, hip-hop festival in Giżyck and the best known Picnic Country in Mrągowo.
In summer season Leśniczówka Pranie attracts a lot of people; great Polish stars give their concerts there. The former residence of Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, Pranie, is a place of annual meetings of the finalists of the national contest for the interpretation of songs of well known Polish poet “We remember about Osiecka”.
In Macroregion there are other musical festivals such as: Festiwal Tradycji i Awangardy Muzycznej „Kody” (the Tradition and Musical Avant-garde Festival “Codes”), Festiwal „Tempus Paschale” (Tempus Paschale Festival), Lubelskie Dni Kultury Studenckiej (Lublin Student Culture Days), Międzynarodowy Festiwal Organowy Lublin-Czuby (the International Organ Festival in Lublin – Czuby district), Inne Brzmienia Art’n’Music Festiwal (Different Tunes Art’n’Music Festival), Festiwal Solo Życia (Solo Life Festival), Międzynarodowy Konkurs Muzyczny dla Niewidomych im. Ignacego Jana Paderewskiego (Ignacy Jan Paderewski International Musical Contest for the Blind), Międzynarodowy Festiwal „Najstarsze Pieśni Europy” (“The Oldest Songs of Europe” International Festival), Międzynarodowy Festiwal Jazzowy – Jazz Bez (International Jazz Festival – Jazz Bez), Międzynarodowy Festiwal Muzyki Ludowej „Mikołajki Folkowe” (International Folk Music Festival “Folk Nicolas”), Międzynarodowy Konkurs Młodych Skrzypków im. Karola Lipińskiego i Henryka Wieniawskiego (Karol Lipiński, and Henryk Wieniawski International Contest for Young Violin Players.)
In summer it is worth coming to the Lublin region as there are as many as three important festivals: Letni Festiwal Filmowy in Zamość (Summer Film Festival in Zamość), Festiwal Filmu i Sztuki „Dwa Brzegi” in Kazimierz Dolny and Janowiec upon the Vistula (Film and Art Festival ”Two Banks”) and Letnia Akademia Filmowa in Zwierzyniec (Summer Film Academy in Zwierzyniec).
At the turn of August and September in Warmia and Masuria there are Lidzbarskie Wieczory Humoru i Satyry (Lidzbark Evenings of Humor and Satire) organized in the Lidzbark amphitheatre placed at the foot of Warmia Bishops Castle. Every year 15 cabarets chosen through elimination fight for the first prize – the Golden Pin. The amphetheatre’s scene has hosted almost every cabaret group. In Eastern Poland there are plenty of international theatre projects: Przegląd Inscenizacja Fragmentów Dzieł Williama Szekspira w Języku Angielskim (the Survey of Staging Exerts form William Shakespeare’s Works in English), Festiwal Teatrów Europy Środkowej „Sąsiedzi” (Central Europe Theatre Festival “Neighbours”), Międzynarodowy Festiwal Konfrontacje Teatralne (International Festival Theatre Confrontation), Międzynarodowe Spotkania Teatrów Tańca (International Meetings of Dance Theatres), Studencki Ogólnopolski Festiwal Teatralny „Kontestacje” (Student National Theatre Festival “Contestations”), Festiwal Teatralny Betlejem Lubelskie (Theatre Festival “Lublin Bethlehem”). The most important culture centers in Lublin are: Juliusz Osterwa Theatre, Musical Theatre, “Grodzka Gate – Theatre NN” Institute, Culture Center, Theatre Practice Centre – Gardzienice, Academic Culture Centre, Hans Christian Andersen Theatre of Doll and Actor, Plastic Scene KUL and “Provisorium” Theatre. One more place needs to be mentioned, namely Panopticum Theatre working at Młodzieżowy Dom Kultury „Pod Akacją” (the Teenage Culture Centre “Under Acacia”); every year a few members of this club get a place at schools for actors.
Among important theatres in Podlasie there are: Białostok Doll Theatre, Aleksander Węgierka Drama Theatre in Białystok, the Doll and Actor Theatre in Łomża and Wierszalin Theatre in Supraśl.
There are other institutions working dynamically: Olsztyn Doll Theatre and four-scene Jaracz Theatre which, as the first in Northern and Eastern Poland became the National Culture Institution. In Olsztyn there is a street theatres festival, so called Olsztyńska Trzydniówka Teatralna (Olsztyn Theatre Three-Day Festival). In the Old Town’s streets one can see many performances and listen to musical recitals.
Macroregion can be also very proud of its artistic galleries and cinemas, and most of all Świętokrzyska Concert Hall in Kielce at whose scene there have been 80 concerts so far. An already rich cultural offer will become even richer thanks to a new object – International Culture Center. It is there where classical music concerts, opera performances, painting exhibitions, musical films presentations and many other artistic events will be organized.
Almost in every district there are Culture Houses and the Culture Institutions of Communes, therefore inhabitants of towns may attend plastic, dance, theatre and film workshops. Cultural education of children is also organized. It is impossible to enumerate all holiday activities, trips, contests and films devoted to the youngest. Children in surrogate family and family orphanages go on camps in summer thanks to St Nicholas Foundation.
Treasures of the past in Eastern Poland
The whole Macroregion is very rich in monumental objects. One of the most important centers of cultural life in Eastern Poland is Lublin. The city is trying to become the European Culture Capital in 2016. Beautiful places and subtle climate are characteristic of Lublin. Unchanged for hundreds years monumental brick houses of Down Town hide numerous galleries, students’ clubs and artistic cafes. The richness of objects both sacred and secular show so-called Lublin renaissance. One of the very precious buildings is gothic Chapel of Saint Trinity at the castle in Lublin. The Chapel’s interior is covered with Russian and Byzantine frescos from the beginning of 15th century. In the middle of the Down Town square there is the Tribunal of Crown. In the square’s cells there is a 200 meter long route, leading under the Down Town. The route leads through 14 mysterious rooms, where one can learn about the history of the city. Thanks for historical architectonic – urban complex Lublin was given a medal for the history monument and the Mark of European Heritage. It is the only city in Poland that takes part in the project of Intercultural Cities.
When visiting the Lublin region one cannot forget about the Museum of Lublin Country where there is a wonderful collection of wood monuments, bricked architecture and expositions showing the life of previous inhabitants of the region. The Museum organizes shows of disappearing jobs and cycle events referring to the folk tradition and the farming-and-ritual year in the country. There are also educational activities such as lessons in the museum, thematic lectures, workshops and trips. Those who love history and folk art can see other heritage parks: in Hola, Biłgoraj, Zaborek near Janów Podlaski and Zagroda Wiejska in Guciów. It is also worth mentioning about the Museum of Untypical Bikes in Gołąb, the Printing House and the Museum of Pharmacy History in Lublin.
An important place at the Macroregion map is the National Museum in Majdanek made in 1944 on the land of a former German concentration camp. The most important aims of the museum are: commemorating the victims of II World War, widening historic knowledge about German occupation, protecting old objects and documenting the history of the concentration camp in Majdanek and in Bełżc.
What tourists visit very often is the Zamoyski family’s Palace in Kozłówka well known by its original magnate décor and the Gallery of Socialist Realism Art with the collection from 1950s and Bierut’s monument hidden in the nearby forest.
The city that is well known in Lubelskie is Zamość. Thanks to an architectonic and urban complex of Down Town it is sometimes called ‘Padwa of the North’. The Big Square with Town Hall and beautiful Armenian brick houses, Water and Salt Square together with the complex of Old Fortress make an unusual urban complex enlisted at the National Culture Heritage UNESCO.
Kazimierz Dolny by the Vistula is another charming place where there are beautiful, monumental brick houses, churches, synagogues, and granaries from 16th and 17th centuries. Those interested in Middle Ages culture can visit a tower and the ruins of the royal castle. In 1994 President of Poland decided that monumental complex in Kazimierz is a tremendous monument of history. Tourists willing to rest from city noise can wander in Kazimierki Landscape Park. There is a dense network of loess gorges which enable walking around almost the whole town.
In Warmia and Mazury there is a unique and special place to visit – the castle of Malbork, the previous centre of Teutonic Order. It is one of the biggest gothic architecture complexes preserved. Every July scenes form forcing Malbork are acted. For this ceremony the whole knight village is rebuilt where one can see knights fully dressed and equipped, smiths and people making coins.
In Świętokrzyskie it is worth seeing the Museum of Toys and Fun which has existed for 30 years and has a rich collection of toys. The museum collects historical toys, folk and theatrical ones as well as modern ones such as Barbie, model planes or electric train sets. There is a special place for children full of blocks, dolls and cars.
In Oblębork there is the Museum of Henryk Sienkiewicz. The former property of the writer, the 19th century palace still keeps manuscripts, letters and diplomas given by the Sienkiewicz family.
Podlasie can also be proud of numerous cultural institutions such as: the Museum of Maria Konopnicka in Suwałki, Regional Museum in Suwałki, Podlaskie Museum in Białystok, North-Mazowieckie Museum in Łomża, Agriculture Museum named after priest Krzysztof Kulka in Ciechanowiec, the Museum of Fortress Osowiec and the Military Museum in Białystok.
Podkarpacie is ethnically, politically and religiously the most varied region. It can be easily seen through the monuments of ecclesiastical monuments. Numerous past objects such as churches, Orthodox churches and synagogues are the evidence for multicultural society and plentitude of faiths of people living in that region. The most important building is the biggest and the oldest in Poland gothic wooden church in Haczów. The church ornament, the 15th century polychrome is the oldest known painting decoration in wooden churches. Another important monument coming from the Middle Ages is the church-and-presbytery complex. They show the so-called ‘ Liber pauperum’ (the book of the poor) which is to be a picturesque order for illiterate believers. Similar churches are in Domaradz, Golcowa, Humniska, Iwonicz, Lublia, Lutcza, Łęki Górne, Osiek Jasielski, Trzcinica and a bit younger ones but also charming built in old gothic style in Brzeziny, Poręby Dymarsie and Średnia Wieś. Orthodox Churches are important elements of the landscape. The most important are those coming from the end of 16th century in Radruż, Gorajec, Chotyniec and Ulcz as well as layered in Posadzka Rybotycka. Not many synagogues have survived up to now. We can see them: in Rzeszów, Lesk, Łańcut, Rymanowice and Strzyżowice, and those younger in Jarosław, Niebylec, Przemyśl, Tarnobrzeg, Ustrzyki Dolne, Sanok and Wielkie Oczy.
The monuments of Podkarpacie are not only ecclesiastical objects but also wonderful castles, palaces and manors. Palatium is the oldest one on Góra Zamkowa (Castle Mountain) in Przemyśl, the castle in Sanok, the palace in Łańcut, a small palace of the Lubomirski family in Rzezszów and those objects from later times in Dubieck, Lesk, Nienadowa, Witkowice and Zarzecze. These are just a few examples from the long list of historical objects. The Region can be also proud of the Fortress in Przemyśl and the Museum of Paraffin and Gas Industry named after Ignacy Łukasiewicz which was made on the area of the oldest paraffin mine in the world.