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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » November 3, 2015
Polska... tastes good!
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Rural Attractions of Lublin Region
November 3, 2015   
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The Lublin region in central-eastern Poland has huge potential in terms of the conditions needed for rural tourism to flourish. Numerous farms offer home-stay vacations, outdoors recreation and regional cuisine, tempting visitors with a taste of a rural lifestyle, including participation in farm chores.

Located next to Poland’s eastern border, the Lublin region boasts near-pristine natural surroundings, a rich cultural heritage and tradition that lives on in villages and borderland towns, large and small. Abundant in cultural heritage sites, the region particularly appeals to tourists who like to stay active. Along with thousands of kilometers of tourist trails for hikers, cyclists and horse riders, the Lublin region has a variety of nature trails criss-crossing national and scenic parks.

The highlights for visitors to Lublin province include lakes scattered between the towns of Łęczna and Włodawa, the hilly Roztocze region with numerous “natural wonders” such as creeks with rocky rapids, and the towns of Puławy, Nałęczów and Kazimierz Dolny, famous for their picturesque loess ravines. Other popular places include sites of cultural and historical interest in the town of Lubartów and its surroundings, and the beautiful Janowskie Woodlands, where lush pine forests are dotted with small lakes surrounded by sandy dunes. The Polesie National Park, remarkable for its lakes, swamps and bogs, is populated by many rare animal, bird and plant species. Places worth a visit also include Janów Podlaski, home to Poland’s most famous Arabian horse stud farm.

Large parts of the Łęczna-Włodawa lake district and the Polesie National Park have been incorporated into the West Polesie International Biosphere Reserve, which also includes the Volhynia Polesye region and the Lakes of Shatskie in Ukraine. Polesie, which is one of Poland’s biggest swamp and bog areas, marks the natural, southwestern border of a forest-tundra region. The many different bodies of water in Polesie provide shelter for almost 150 bird species and the largest population of the European pond turtle.

Natural beauty aside, the Lublin region abounds in historic sites linked to different cultures and religions. One of the most remarkable ones is the city of Zamo¶ć, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Renaissance architecture. The founders and former inhabitants included Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Greeks, Jews and Armenians. Some of the finest examples of how the cultures and religions of Western and Eastern Europe influenced each other are located in the region’s main city of Lublin.

Greatest hits of rural tourism
The local countryside draws visitors with folk customs and traditions that are alive to this day. The locals hold festivals and country fairs during which tourists can see local folk arts and crafts and try regional specialties. Visitors to Lublin province are offered almost 4,000 beds at around 500 farm stays. Rural tourism farms provide accommodation in comfortable rooms in cottages amid bucolic landscapes. The hosts welcome guests with delicious, traditional meals prepared fresh from ingredients grown and made on site, such as milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables and fruit liqueurs.

The best and most inventive tourism products in the Lublin region have been put on the “Greatest Hits of Rural Tourism” list compiled by the Polish Tourism Development Agency and commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. One is the Kraina Rumianku (Land of Chamomile) farm in Hołowno, Podedwórze district. The area has been a major producer of chamomile for over 20 years, supplying the plant to numerous companies in Poland and abroad. Kraina Rumianku is the first theme village in Lublin province and, other than delightful scents and spectacular white chamomile fields, the farm offers visitors a range of educational and recreational activities.

Far away from the city bustle, Kraina Rumianku makes the most of unpolluted nature, local culture and abundance of herbs with the Center for Regional Education and a Rural Spa. The Center for Regional Education conducts workshops centered on dying local crafts and occupations. During the activities visitors can, for example, bake bread, starting with threshing rye with flails, and learn to weave, from hand-picking flax to spinning it on a wheel to weaving linen on a loom. Tourists can also make butter in wooden churns, wash clothes in washtubs, iron them with wood-fired irons and so on. Fans of arts and crafts can, it turn, attend pottery classes and learn to make decorative ceramics, make flowers of plaited straw and paint on glass and wood.

Surrounded by a flower and herb garden, Kraina Rumianku’s rural spa is a major attraction with beauty treatment rooms, a massage parlor and a wood-fired sauna, all housed in 100-year-old granaries. The spa provides services based on herbs and chamomile and the customers can learn many facts about how herbs are used in traditional medic

Rural tourism highlights in the Lublin region also include a smithy in the village of Wojciechów with an open-air museum called Wojciechosko Zagroda. These are a stop on the Iron and Blacksmithing Tourist Trail, which draws on the village’s blacksmithing heritage. It is the result of concentrated efforts to preserve the decreasingly popular profession of a blacksmith, a project that turned Wojciechów into Poland’s center for blacksmithing. The Iron and Blacksmithing Tourist Trail passes through several locations, taking visitors on an all-day tour to show them how iron is turned into horseshoes.

Amid the pine forests and waters of the Podlaski Przełom Bugu scenic park sits Uroczysko Zaborek (Zaborek Wilderness), a 50-hectare complex of vintage wooden buildings with accommodation for tourists. The historic wooden buildings amid the meadows and forests along the Bug River form a sort of open-air museum. Guests can rent rooms in a presbytery from 1880, a windmill and a white manor house dating back to the January Uprising of 1863. A wooden church at Uroczysko Zaborek houses an art gallery for pictures painted during outdoor workshops held in the neighborhood.

Regional cuisine
Reflecting the complicated history of the region, the local cuisine evolved under Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Russian and Jewish influences. Traditional dishes can be roughly divided into poor people’s food and specialties eaten by the gentry. Poor people used to mainly eat dishes made of different kinds of flour and often sprinkled with pork scratchings. One of the most distinctive Lublin dishes are pierogis with fillings of cottage cheese, cabbage, mushrooms and buckwheat and millet groats. The local gentry, in turn, ate meat prepared in many different fashions and garnished with fruit and vegetables. One of the best known regional specialties from the Lublin area are gołàbki cabbage leaves stuffed with groats, potatoes and meat.

Buckwheat groats are a staple food of the Lublin region. A unique Lublin delicacy is kartoflaczki pancakes, which apart from buckwheat are made of cottage cheese and, optionally, potatoes.

One of the most popular Lublin specialties is the cebularz onion pie, which originated from Jewish cuisine. It was first baked in the 19th century by Jews residing in Lublin’s Old Town district and then the recipe spread all over the region.

Jewish traditions blend with Eastern Slavic cuisine in a dish called forszmak, which is a stew prepared from an array of ingredients such as scraps of smoked meat, chicken, pickled cucumbers, tomato concentrate and potatoes cooked without peeling.

Originating from Zamo¶ć, the thick and spicy flaki zamojskie tripe soup is a regional specialty popular across Poland. It is said to have been the favorite soup of King Władysław II Jagiełło and his wife Queen Jadwiga, Polish rulers in the 14th and 15th centuries. The locals also enjoy kulebiak, a calzone-like dish stuffed with minced meat and, sometimes, cabbage.

The Lublin region is famous for quality honey, especially buckwheat honey. Buyers appreciate its distinctive flavor, sweet and intense, and strong scent with a hint of buckwheat flowers. Buckwheat honey is also known to have therapeutic properties. Different kinds of honey are also processed into mead, an alcoholic drink that is highly popular in Lublin province. This is made from honey mixed with water in different proportions and a slight amount of citric acid. Left to ferment in kegs for a year, mead from the Lublin region sometimes also contains fruit juice, usually raspberry juice.

Breweries around the world like to use superior hops from Lublin province. Much of the hops grown in Poland come from the region, earning Poland the no. 7 spot among the world’s largest producers of hops. Several breweries in Lublin province use locally grown hops to make popular kinds of beer.
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