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Bialystok stands at the crossroads of European cultures, sustained by intellectual inspiration – and waves of migrants – from both east and west. Throughout its 700 year existence, the city has incorporated Belarusian, Yiddish, Ukrainian, Lithuainian, Russian, Romanie, Muslim and Tartar cultures into its milieu, and its sons have included imminent scientists, linguists and politicians. Today, Bialystok – home to growing numbers of galleries, museums, and concert halls – is looking to re-assert its role as a thriving hub of regional and national culture.
The city’s architectural treasures include the Branicki Palace, a work of sublime Baroque inspiration that often draws comparisons with the French palace of Versailles. It encapsulates several fine gardens, pavilions, great halls, villas, theatres, libraries, wedding houses, and a clock tower, and is largely the work of hetman Jan Klemens. Yet more historic sights lie in Bialystok’s Old Town, including the triangular shaped market square and town hall, a cathedral, and the Orthdox Church of Saint Nicholas with its fresco domes; these are just some of the 150 monuments listed in the register.Read more
Bialystok is situated in the heart of Podlasie, a region rich in shrines and pilgrimage sites, old towns and villages steeped in Orthodox Christian traditions, as well as verdant national parks – superb destinations for hiking and wildlife observation.
The Narew National Park is home to complex wetlands filled with plentiful reeds and sedge, numerous amphibians and aquatic birds, including the majestic marsh harrier. Nearby, the Biebrza park features a mix of forest, agriculture, peat, and wetland – great walking country and home to plentiful fortresses and traditional villages. The real highlight of Podlasie is the Bialowieza World Biosphere Reserve, filled with stunning primeval forests and scores of endemic plants. Famously, the park has worked hard to conserve the region’s European bison, which roam the land in great thundering herds.