The best in Poland: Kazimierz Dolny

Located on the Vistula, halfway between Kraków and Gdańsk (50 km west of Lublin), Kazimierz Dolny is an atmospheric town, medieval in design and boasting some of the most splendid Renaissance architecture in Poland.

For years artists have flocked here to take advantage of its effervescent light and they are largely responsible for its unique ambience. Every cobblestone re-echoes the past and the town's scenic surroundings, with the picturesque hills and inviting Vistula riverbanks, make it a location not to be missed.

Main attractions of Kazimierz Dolny

The town's life and activity concentrates in the Market Square (Rynek), the subject of countless pictures and photographs. Crowds of tourists stroll around or sip their drinks in garden cafes, vendors sell souvenirs while artists work on their paintings. The square is surrounded by burghers' houses with richly decorated facades overlooking a roofed wooden well in the centre.

To the north-east the square ascends towards the huge, white parish church with the oldest (still active) organ in Poland, 14th castle ruins and Wzgórze Trzech Krzyży (Three Crosses Hill).

Visible from the courtyard, the solitary castle watchtower atop the hill was built at the turn of the 14th century to guard a river crossing and collect duties on goods shipped up and down the Vistula. The tower is round, measuring 10 metres in diameter and about 20 metres in height. Between the 15th and 16th centuries it also served as a lighthouse of sorts - at its top, fires were lit to direct boats and barges to the port. From the viewing terrace on the top you can enjoy a full-sweep, breathtaking panorama of the Vistula valley, the castle at Janowiec to the west and Puławy to the north.

The riverside promenade stretches by a pleasure boat jetty all the way to Przedmieście Gdańskie at the foot of the castle hill, once the site of town's main freight port. Several graneries have survived in this area.

Worth seeing points of Kazimierz Wielki : 1615 Przybyła Brothers' House (12 and 13) in the Market Square, Gdańsk House (21) - nowadays a gallery of folk art, Suszarnia Gallery in which the renowned local poet and singer Jan Wołek shows his paintings and will entertain you by himself, the core of the Jewish quarter - Small Market Square , Cezary Sarzyński's long-established bakery (6am-8pm, ul. Nadrzeczna 6), which sells the trademark Kazimierz rooster cakes, 1635 Mannerist Celej House (by ul. Senatorska 11) - one of the most splendidly ornamented house in Poland. There is a Town Museum nowadays, the southern side of the Market Square is dominated by the 1589 Reformed Franciscan Church and Monastery (ul. klasztorna1 ).

Source: Poland - an ilustrated guidebook. For more information look at Pascal

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