Kazimierz Dolny, Kazimierz Dolny
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The areas surrounding Kazimierz Dolny feature exceptional landscapes typical of the Vistula Gorge, this section of which boasts an air of wilderness and beauty. The varied relief of this terrain is composed of hills, valleys and ravines carved into a thick layer of loess. Numerous stone quarries nestle among the hills and dales overgrown with lush plant life. The topography of the area and its location on the Vistula were decisive factors in determining the town’s architectural and urban form.

The earliest references to the town date from the 12th century. The name ‘Kazimierz’ appears in historic records for the first time in 1249. The existence of a river crossing, a customs post, and trade routes leading to Ruthenia, the West and the Teutonic state dictated the founding of a market settlement and its further development. In the 14th century Kazimierz Wielki granted the town a charter. The Magdeburg Charter, which the town was granted in 1406 by Władysław Jagiełło, introduced a new system of town government and urban organisation. A new and larger market square was delineated, flanked by three densely packed rows of timber-and-masonry houses. Trade along the Vistula began to flourish in the 16th century, bringing Kazimierz’s citizens great wealth. It peaked in the first half of the 17th century, and then gradually began to decline, leaving Kazimierz to slowly set in its quaint form. In the 19th century it became a summer resort and an outdoor painting venue for artists.

The town’s exceptional aesthetic qualities had already gained the appreciation of artists by the late 18th century. Its charm also captivated the 19th-century graphic artists and painters, Adam Lerue, Wojciech Gerson, Michał Elwiro Andriolli and Józef Brandt. In 1909 Władysław Ślewiński organised the first outdoor painting event. Jewish painters and graphic artists were also active at this time. However, the true ‘discovery’ of Kazimierz by the artistic community came in the interwar period. From 1923 onwards regular plein air painting sessions were organised there by Tadeusz Pruszkowski, who amassed a sizeable number of followers. In time, a group of artists with strong links to Kazimierz emerged from their ranks, founding St Luke’s Fellowship.

The pride of the town are its houses: those belonging to the Przybyło family on the Market Square (St Nicholas and St Christopher, 1615) and the Celejów building (1635) on Senatorska Street (which now houses a branch of the Vistula Museum). They are distinctive for their richly decorated façades with elaborate attic storeys accounting for almost one third of their height. They represent an amalgamation of forms stemming from Renaissance and Mannerist architecture of Italian and Dutch provenance, and vernacular traditions. A fine timber well dating from 1905 occupies the centre of the market square, whilst imposing masonry granaries stand at the edges of the town. In the mid-17th century they numbered around 60, most of them with decorative gables inspired by northern Mannerism. An air of romance pervades the ruins of the medieval castle, which was enlarged by Casimir the Great. Located on a hilltop, the Church of SS John the Baptist and Bartholomew, once a Gothic building, was remodelled in 1586-1589 and 1610-1613 in ‘Lublin Renaissance’ style. Points of interest inside the church include its 17th-century organ - the oldest instrument of this type in Poland to survive entirely intact. The Hospital Church and the Reformed Church were raised around the mid-17th century in Baroque style. There is also a synagogue, built in 1536. Jews originally lived in the southern quarter near the market square, and on Lubelska Street, becoming the town’s dominant community by the late 18th century.

The ravages of two world wars affected, albeit to varying degrees, virtually the whole town, leading to the need for its comprehensive re-evaluation which was conducted in 1947-1958. The reconstruction of Kazimierz Dolny was carried out based on a design by the architect Karol Siciński, who managed to recapture the town’s atmosphere.

General information

  • Type: urban layout
  • Chronology: pocz. XV - XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Kazimierz Dolny
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district puławski, commune Kazimierz Dolny - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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