Warsaw has a lot to offer and it’s difficult to get bored here, but if you wish to explore smaller towns or Polish countryside, you may get inspired by this post.
Idyllic countryside, Polish aristocrats and folklore
A very popular trip from Warsaw connects Łowicz, Nieborów and Arkadia park. No wonder, because during this tour you may learn a lot about Polish history and culture. A small town, a palace built for Polish aristocrats and a beautiful 18th century park – looks like a perfect idea for 1 day trip from Warsaw.
Łowicz – cathedral, jams and folk costumes
If you ask a Pole if he or she heard about Łowicz, their first association will probably be the jam producer. In fact, Łowicz is also the brand name of fruit and vegetable preserves that have been produced in this town since 1965. Another common association refers to the beautiful folk costumes used in Łowicz region. Local people wear them proudly every year during Corpus Christi processions (look here). While in Łowicz, you can admire them in the city museum.
What else is worth seeing in Łowicz? With no doubt the cathedral at the former market place (today’s main square). A few centuries ago Łowicz was a residence of Polish primates, who served as regents until the next king was elected. That explains the cathedral’s splendor and magnificence.
When I’m in Łowicz, I like to stop for a coffee or lunch in the restaurant Powroty near the cathedral. If you have bigger appetite and prefer traditional Polish cuisine, maybe you should choose the restaurant Polonia. Even Napoleon Bonaparte stopped here during his stay in Poland!
Next to the river there’s a large and beautiful park – Park Miejski. Look around and you will see this beautiful painting. It covers a sewage pumping station.
Nieborów and Arkadia – the world of Polish aristocracy
Now we will discover Nieborów, it’s the name of a village famous because of this palace:
The building was constructed in the 17-th century and then modified and developed in the 18-th century. Until WWII it was one of the residences of Radziwiłł family. Luckily it survived the war and now is administered by the National Museum in Warsaw. The particularity of this palace is that its last owners lived here not so long ago and you can still feel their presence. During the war the palace became a shelter for members of Polish resistance movement.
Visiting the palace, you discover the way Polish aristocracy lived in the 18th and 19th century.
One of Nieborów’s owners, a Polish princess who lived in the 18th century, decided to found an English-style garden nearby. Not much has changed in that garden since then, it’s open to visitors every day and is situated 3 km from Nieborów. Helena Radziwiłł employed the best architects who were to create a world designed for the pleasure of her guests. The constructions in this romantic garden refer to ancient and medieval works of arts as well as to the everyday life in the country. Today it attracts lots of visitors and people who want to get away from it all, at least for a couple of hours.
Maurzyce – everyday life in Polish countryside
The Ethnographic Park in Maurzyce is a great way to discover what everyday life looked like in the Polish countryside in the 18th and 19th centuries. The buildings that you can visit were brought here from different places in Łowicz region. Apart from typical houses, you can enter a 18-th century wooden church, a school, a fire-station as well as a barn or a cowshed. All the buildings are very well preserved and the houses are beautifully decorated in Łowicz style.
Żyrardów – industrial heritage
Most probably Żyrardów won’t be mentioned in you travel guide, which doesn’t mean that this city isn’t worth seeing. On the contrary, this place is perfect to reflect on the transition from communism to capitalism after 1989 and on some of its aspects. This former industrial hub developed after the foundation of a textile factory in 1833. One if its directors was Philippe de Girard, a French inventor. The name of the town comes from ‘Girard’.
Impressive buildings of the old spinning mill still dominate the center of the city. Factory owners organized an ideal city around this complex of buildings. 95% of these 19th-century buildings still exist. Moreover, they still have the same functions. A large number of Żyrardów’s inhabitants still live in settlements built for factory workers. Żyrardów is believed to be the only whole urban industrial 19th-century complex to be preserved in Europe.
After the end of communism most factories were closed down, workers were laid off and the city had to struggle with serious social problems. In addition to that, Żyrardów lost its identity. In many corners of the city we can see such a desolated view:
Women have always played an important role in the history of Żyrardów, because they worked as spinners in textile factories. In 1883 they started a strike, which is considered as the first factory strike in Polish history. A few other strikes have been organized in this city since then and some were commemorated:
Museum of linen
Another interesting place to visit in Żyrardów is the Museum of Linen. Have a look at this beautiful space with the machines that used to work full time: