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16 October 1999, Saturday
1999 Photographs from Kazimierz Dolny and Zamosc | Panoramic Photographs from Kazimierz Dolny and Zamosc 1 2 | Poland Site Index | Home

Saturday morning I had a couple of hours for a final walk through Kazimierz Dolny. I returned to the center of the town and followed the inroads I could not explore the night before. As I walked, the distance between the houses slowly increased. On a side road just a few steps from the aqueduct, I saw an old outbuilding. Its structure is a hewn heavy timber frame with a wood shingle roof. Each shingle is hand-shaved and the pattern of the shingles on the roof gives the building a unique texture. For assembly, a shingle is laid exposed with a long face, about 2 hands long. The next shingle is laid exposed with a short face, 1/2 hand long. The next is a long exposed face, then a short exposed face, and so on. The repeating pattern running vertically up the roof combined with the rough edges of the shingles coursed horizontally is a very lush and delicate pattern. Without it, the building would appear flat and uninteresting. Another lesson learned in the application and assembly of materials.

Walking farther away from the center of the town, I found a memorial at the Jewish cemetery. Set high on a slope leading up from the roadway, a vertical concrete slab defines the edge of the forest. Fragments of headstones taken from a another previously destroyed cemetery are inset into the slab. From the street side, the mass of concrete looms at the top of the pathway. The individual headstones are difficult to discern until they are viewed at a much closer distance near the top of the path. Moving around to the back, the headstone fragments continue on the rear of the slab. Here, the slab creates a backdrop for the remaining graves set into the hillside, original markers set between the sparsely cleared forest of trees. Without the concrete slab, the cemetery would fall down the hill to the roadway. The slab gives the remaining graves visual peace.

It was almost 11:00am. I had only an hour to return to the hotel and collect my belongings before Jan Syzmanik and his daughter would take me to Zamosc. They arrived right on time. We drove for a little over an hour to Lublin, about halfway on the route to Zamosc. We took a quick walk through the heart of the city as Mr. Syzmanik described some of the more significant buildings. We found a small restaurant for lunch and discussed various topics, both professional and more casual. Mr. Syzmanik's daughter, Marta, translated our conversation between Polish and English flawlessly. She would continue the pace for two days. When we continued our drive to Zamosc, the terrain of the countryside began to flatten, leaving the hills of Kazimierz behind. Marta turned on the radio. During the trip I counted 15 songs in English and 7 songs in Polish. The first track was Nirvana.

Mr. Syzmanik reserved a room for me in a hotel on the main square; it may have been the best hotel room in the whole city. The building is adjacent to the town hall and the windows of my suite look directly out to the square. If, for any reason, I felt the urge to fling open the windows and address the public below, my desires would be easily accommodated. With a glimmer of daylight remaining I went outside for a brief walk around the city.

Mr. Syzmanik and Marta returned a few hours later joined by Maria Krzyzanowska, a co-worker of Mr. Syzmanik and co-author of the city's application to the World Heritage List. We went for an evening walk through the city with Ms. Krzyzanowska as a guide. The initial town was designed and built between 1580 and 1591 under the guidance of Jan Zamoyski. The town was positioned here to develop the crossroads of trading routes leading east-west and north-south. Because it was built over a relatively short period, the design of the buildings and layout of the city is remarkably uniform and consistent. Zamoyski had seen continuous arcades along the streets and plazas of several towns in Italy and implemented the same idea in his new settlement. Typically, arcades are used in regions of hot weather, as protection from the sun and heat. I have never seen one so uniform in a northern climate.

As we continued to walk, we passed several buildings with rough, exposed masonry on the street facades. Windows, doors and other building elements were also in poor condition. Less than 10 years ago, numerous buildings were in this poor state, many were even on the main square. Changes in the Polish government have helped to bring new investments into the area along with heightened interest in repairing the historic buildings and existing infrastructure. The recent losting of Zamosc on the World Heritage List has also made additional funds available for restoration work. We passed a church building where Ms. Krzyzanowska had directed the restoration. The most interesting tale was the discovery of original drawings and documents for the building. They were not hidden away in a vault but instead perched in the air, hidden within an element of the cross high on the main steeple. The centuries old documents were discovered when the scaffolding finally reached the highest point of the building and the cross was removed and disassembled for repairs.

At the end of the evening, we returned to Mr. Syzmanik's house for dinner with his family.


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1999 Photographs from Kazimierz Dolny and Zamosc | Panoramic Photographs from Kazimierz Dolny and Zamosc 1 2 | Poland Site Index | Home


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