Recently I’ve visited an extraordinary place and I’d like to share it with you. It’s The Open Air Village Museum in Lublin located in the picturesque valley of Czechówka River. Very little people know about it, which I consider a serious omission since it’s one of the largest open air museums in Poland! It’s the treasure trove of history and culture, presenting not only cultural diversity of Lublin Voivodeship, but also intangible heritage of the region.
Poland is a beautiful and diverse country with unique culture and eventful history. The country I’m very proud of and, despite all the tumultuous times (show me the country which hasn’t been through such times!).
The Open Air Village Museum in Lublin has its own, inimitable atmosphere, so why don’t you plan your weekend trip to Lublin region :)
In the Museum you can see a whole array of things that could have beeen found in villages, manors and towns of the distant past. You can also learn a lot about customs, rituals and traditions of people living back then.
The exhibition is divided into sectors reflecting the landscape and ethnographic diversification of Lublin region. Therefore, there are sectors dedicated to Lublin Upland, Roztocze, Vistula Region, Podlasie and Bug Region. There are also special manorial and provincial town sectors.
The visit starts with Lublin Upland with a grand Dutch-style windmill from Zygmuntów. It was the first object to be relocated to the Museum.
In Roztocze area there is the Greek-Catholic church complex with the Uniate church from Tarnoszyn. The construction is made of wood and it is truly splendid.
During your walk through the Museum, you pass traditional village buildings. You can look inside cottages and see the interiors just as they were like in the past.
You will surely notice numerous things of everyday use, for instance dishes, washtubs and kitchen equipment.
My fiancé’s grandfather was making beautiful wicker baskets. For many years, he was cooperating with the Museum and gave his baskets to it. Now they’re incorporated into interior design there. So when you visit the Museum, remember the baskets you’ll see are those of grandfather’s :)
From time to time, you can encounter a pasturing cow and waddling ducks and hens.
There is also a small stud with 7 horses.
The main building of the manorial sector, located nearly in the heart of the Museum’s exhibition, is 18th century manor from Żyrzyn with picture-postcard rose garden.
My favorite part is Vistula Region and Podlasie. They are just by the pond, creating a charming green oasis. The water sublimely reflects the buildings.
You can rest on the grass, occasionally a curious goat comes up to you. It’s very homelike.
The interesting part is the provincial town sector as well. It replicates a small town from the 1930’s. When I was walking around the town, I got the impression that I was on a western movie set. No one was there, except the wind blowing between the buildings.
The town was recreated with precision to every detail, there are even window displays. You can see the exposition of hairdresser’s, ironmonger’s shop, post office, there is cobbler’s workshop, too.
If you feel like catching a breath, make sure to drop in a small tavern (Karczma Smakosza – Gourmet Tavern). They serve real, homemade Lublin specialties. I’ve tasted delicious pierogi (dumplings) with buckwheat groats and curd cheese filling. Finger-licking! And for dessert, I had to try some seasonal pie, e.g. blueberry pie.
The Open Air Village Museum in Lublin reminds of tangible remnants of the past. However, for me it’s the place where you can feel the stories of common people, living there and working in those buildings years ago. Well, when it comes to local people, you can still meet them, taking good care of the Museum, enlivening it, like if it was actually the place where the time has stopped. The lady hanging the wash out on the picket fence here, a man with a goat on a string, going to shed to repair something there… You start feeling like it’s the reality, not an exhibition, and you’re a guest from the future, observing the life happening there in silence.
Moreover, it’s the best time to visit the Museum because every year, on the 2nd of September, there is an event called “Disappearing Professions”. It is the show of traditional professions and farmer skills, popular in Lublin region in the 19th century and in the first part of the 20th century. Some of those professions are disappearing, others are more and more rare, the rest is brought back to live on this occasion only.
During the show, craftsmen and the Museum’s employees present traditional Lublin region crafts, such as: smithery, pottery, carpentry, millery or wattling and weaving. I bet you haven’t had the chance to see how a basket is being wattled or a fishnet woven! It’s amazing to see how people dealt with everything long before mobile apps J
There are also shows of other farming activities and skills necessary in everyday village life, such as: grinding the grains in quern-stones, crushing and flaking groats into oatmeal with an ancient wooden mortar and pestle ( ‘stępa’ in Polish), making butter, baking bread in a fired bread oven, washing clothes in ‘zolnik’ (a large barrel on three legs where you put the laundry and ash between the clothes layers, then pour boiling water there and close the barrel for a few hours until the next step of doing the laundry), then with a dolly and a washboard. The shows also include linen processing, ironing with a charcoal iron, embroidering and preparing traditional meals (which of course you can taste later on, as much as you want, they’re delicious!). You are also free to try each of the activities above by yourself :)
The event is well-organized and polished to the slightest detail. Folk bands play the live music for the visitors all day long.
It’s really cool day with Polish folk culture!
Maybe you would dare to go to a dance party in a pre-war style? Outdoor dance floor is charmingly lit by dozens of lanterns and the band plays Polish folk dance music: mazurka (a Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo), oberek (a lively Polish dance, it consists of many dance lifts and jumps.), tango, waltz and foxtrot. It’s great and original way to spend the evening. And I’m telling you this – a girl who has danced for 13 years in Polish folk group :)
Tickets for The Open Air Village Museum in Lublin are two-bit: PLN12 for a normal ticket and PLN6 for a half ticket. You can book a sightseeing trip with a tour guide, it’s PLN 60 for 1.5 hour.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s the thought: if something like this was in Japan and you’d have the chance to see some Japanese village or South America tribe settlement, you’d surely go, right? So why don’t you support initiatives that are not only equally interesting, but also local!