Białowieża and surroundings

Białowieża lies at the heart of the forest. As the forest is divided by the national border, Białowieża is situated almost next to it and is one of the furthest-east located settlements in Poland. Only one main Hajnówka – Białowieża road leads here and on its whole length it is surrounded by the forest landscape reserve.

 

Białowieża has always been an exceptional place. For centuries it was connected with Polish royalty, as the forest was one of the most significant hunting sites in East-Central Europe. After partitions of Poland Russian tsars used to hunt here too. Białowieża still bears witness to those ancient times with some remaining monuments and buildings. This royal touch of old certainly adds charm to the place.

Moreover, Białowieża is also unique for the mosaic of cultures and religions. Even nowadays, when walking along its streets, it is possible to hear the local Belarusian-based dialect. Popular folk festivals like Kupała (St. John’s Night in June) or Peretocze (ethnic minorities’ music festival) give a chance of a meeting with local traditions. Additionally, Orthodox and Roman Catholic confessions add up to cultural diversity.

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Last but not east, it is an ideal place for nature-lovers. It attracts not only tourists but also scientists from all over the world. It is not surprising, since the National Park, the most pristine part of the forest, is within a 15-minute walk from the village centre. (Being under strict protection, it can be visited only with a guide.) In Białowieża itself, there is Palace Park that used to surround tsar’s palace, which, unfortunately, did not survive to our times. The park is a wonderful place for  a walk, with its mixture of history and nature. In the park there  is Nature Museum with an interesting and modern exhibition about the forest. Next to it Białowieża National Park has its headquarters.

In Białowieża there are many guesthouses, a few hotels, restaurants and cafes. Shopping is possible in quite a few shops. There is also a health care centre, pharmacy, petrol station and a cash machine by one of the hotels. Bikes and, in winter, skiing equipment can be rented too. One more tourist attraction are trips to the forest on a horse-pulled cart. Significantly, many lectures, workshops and exhibitions about nature are held here.

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Budy, Teremiski, Pogorzelce

These are the villages by one of the roads from Hajnówka to Białowieża (not by the main road). All of them are located on vast clearings and boast with beautiful view of the forest.

All three villages have a similar history. They were first mentioned on maps in the 18th century. Their inhabitants came from Mazowsze (central Poland) in order to work in the forest, as charcoal, tar and potash were produced here. During I World War all the villagers set off for biezhenstvo (refuge), running away from war’s horror to remote parts of Russia and leaving everything they had behind. On their arrival after the war they had to rebuild their burnt households. During II World War the villages were pacified by Germans and burnt down once again, while local people were forced to move outside the forest. They came back after the war to start everything anew once again.

There are many guesthouses in the villages. In Budy there in Sioło Budy, where it is possible to have something to eat and find accommodation. At the back of the facility there is a small open air museum. In Teremiski there is Uniwersytet Powszechny im. Jana Józefa Lipskiego and Teatr w Stodole (Theatre in a Barn) opened by Kasia and Paweł Winiarski, which is a place of truly interesting artistic events. Pogorzelce are home to Kresy Gallery. The view of the forest behind the valley of Narewka River along the Pogorzelce – Białowieża road is the Białowieża National Park itself.

All the villages give great opportunities of wildlife observations. An encounter with a bison grazing by a road is not a rarity.


Europejski Fundusz Rolny na rzecz Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich. Europa inwestująca w obszary wiejskie. Projekt współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach osi 4 Leader. Program Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich na lata 2007-2013. Projekt zrealizowany przez Stowarzyszenie Metamorphosis. Instytucja zarządzająca Programem Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich na lata 2007-13 Minister Rolnictwa i Rozwoju Wsi