Kazimierz Dolny is an insanely charming town located by the Vistula River. Here, Renaissance churches and townhouses stream down from the tops of the low, wooded hills, interspersed with old wooden houses. The place is particularly popular with artists, and you will find quite a few interesting galleries with local handicrafts in the cobblestone side streets.
Kazimierz developed most intensly in the late Middle Ages, when it became one of the most important points of the grain trade. The fertile lands of Lublin built the power of the local nobility and petty bourgeoisie, the reminiscence of which are the mighty old granaries located along the Vistula River.
Artists drawn from Italy brought a local variety of Renaissance, exemplified by the townhouses of former merchants decorated with the lace attics you that will see around the market. The charming market square in Kazimierz with its characteristic well is the first point on the tour of the town.
At the foot of the castle resounding with the strong beat of concerts during the season, stands the astonishing parish church with its exceptional number of putti, angels – carved, stuccoed, painted and placed in various parts of the temple. They decorate, among other things, the balustrade of the historic organ of 1436 pipes and 35 voices, which can be heard during the Kazimierz Organ Festival.
In later centuries the grain trade declined, with the paradoxical result that the town, forgotten by the world, retained its unique character and architecture.
For centuries, Kazimierz Dolny functioned as a typical Central European Jewish town – a shtetl. In the 1930s Michał Waszyński (Moshe Waksman) – later discoverer of the talent of Sofia Loren and Audrey Hepburn – made his famous film here The Dybbuk based on an old Jewish story about the possession of a living person’s body by the spirit of a dead person.
Walking in the hills. Wild Vistula
Situated in a valley under the hills, Kazimierz is perfectly savored during scenic walks. You can climb the ruins of the castle founded by King Casimir the Great (after whom not only the town, but also the former Jewish quarter of Kraków, is named), or climb the Hill of Three Crosses, which offers a surpassing panorama of the city and the wild and wide Vistula River flowing just nearby. On hot days you can take shelter in the numerous loess gorges in the area.
The Vistula is the last major river in Europe left largely unregulated. Below Kazimierz it is widely spilled, forming sandy beaches and islands.
When visiting Kazimierz, be sure to check out the local stores. The must-see place is Sarzyński Bakery, which for half a century has been making the famous roosters from yeast dough.
The town also hosts numerous festivals. In July, music reverberates in the surrounding quarries during the multi-genre Kazimiernikejszyn festival, while in late July and early August the film festival Two Shores takes place in Kazimierz and neighboring Janowiec.
Well, that is right, Janowiec! The place deserves a separate page…