The Podlasie region is one of those regions in Poland where wooden cottages, barns and sacral buildings still prevail in the rural landscape.
Fortunately, the most precious buildings receive legal protection, but a large number of them don’t have such protection, and as a result, the buildings lose their unique appearance. The owners replace roofs, windows, doors and add the boarding that change the traditional buildings completely. That’s why it’s high time to see them because soon it’ll be more and more difficult to find them.
When travelling across Podlasie you can see the decorative elements of wooden cottages from the road and take photos without disturbing the locals’ lives. The most popular decorative motifs that were used to decorate a cottage were the geometric shapes e.g. rectangles, squares, triangles, diamonds and the plant motifs – leaves or twinning stems. Less common were the zoomorphic motifs such as birds, pigeons, hares, cocks, horses, etc.
In the past a special saw and carpenter’s precision was used to create such ornaments. This handicraft art became extremely popular after the First World War and lasted until 1960s. Why? Probably because it was the time when many of the Orthodox people came back to the region from Russia. (In 1915 lots of them had to leave their homes and settle down in remote parts of Russia). Another reason is that in the 19th century Podlasie was under the rule of the Russian Empire and the influence of Russian patterns in the region was significant.
Decorative details were made thanks to the templates which were first cut out in the hard cardboard and then shapes were cut out of the wood. Joiners used different colours such as brown, green, red, blue, white or yellow to cover all the decorations. But not only dwelling houses were beautifully decorated. It also happened with the sacral buildings e.g. Orthodox churches, churches and even synagogues. The external decorations were poor but the interior showed rich ornamentation. The colour chosen to paint Orthodox churches was symbolic e.g. blue temples are dedicated to Virgin Mary or archangel Michael, green to the Holy Ghost and brown – martyrs.
If you want to get the most out of your stay in the Podlasie region, go off the beaten track to see the picturesque village landscape.
by Justyna Wasyluk
More info about Podlasie region.
See also: Best travel destination 2016: Poland