The Story of the Painted Village
Over a hundred years ago in Zalipie, every house had a wood stove but no chimney. Thus, the smoke would create black marks on both the exterior and interior of the homes. To cover up the marks, the village women would go around painting flowers over the black soot.
These days, the problem is a thing of the past, but the folk art of Zalipie has become part of the village’s identity, a tradition that they are very proud of. Even in war-time, the flower painting continued, giving the village hope and color in dark times.
Paintings of Zalipie
As the years go on, the paintings only get more colorful and more elaborate, with every surface decorated in the village from chicken coops to tree trunks. The artistic expression has broadened out to all village areas and the home, with flowers now painted on furniture, ornaments, and even embroidered on dresses.
The Zalipie Experience
To encourage these traditions to continue, every year, the Ethnographic museum of Tarnow organizes a cottage painting competition. Every June, the locals of Zalipie enter their decorated homes into the competition. Cash prizes are awarded for originality and artistic flair, often with many generations competing together. The competition is a beautiful way to maintain the tradition of folk art in Zalipie, as each person taking part brings a fresh take on the typical folk art.
Visiting Zalipie Painted Village
When visiting Zalipie painted village, it’s possible to walk around the village simply admiring all the beautiful floral artwork. However, be aware that this isn’t a museum. People live in the houses, and the village is still very much a functioning home for the locals. Be respectful and don’t take pictures outside people’s homes. To take photos, head to the buildings which are open to the public. These are:
House of Malarek (Painter’s House)
The Painter’s House is a museum in the village, where you can learn about the history of Zalipie folk art and buy souvenirs. For the real Zalipie experience, book onto one of the many art workshops held here.
Felicia Curylo’s Farm House
Another part of the village museum is the house of Felicia Curylo. She was a local woman seen as the head of the village painters, who became particularly famous and respected for her work. She kept the tradition alive for many years, and her cottage is a perfect example. The house has been preserved as it was when she lived there for tourists to visit with detailed paintings everywhere, even the oven is decorated with typical paintings!
St Joseph’s Church
Normally churches lack color but not this one! Inside the St Joseph’s Church, the floral art is everywhere, even around the altar and the on the table cloths. Even the priest’s robes are decorated in colorful flowers! The locals are extremely proud of the church’s uniqueness and the hard work that has gone into it over the years, so it’s well worth taking a quick peek inside.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Zalipie is anytime in the spring or summer, where the paintings really come to life in the sunshine, against the backdrop of real-life summer flowers. If you can visit during the competition, this is an excellent time to really see the traditions in action; a fun way to experience Polish village life.
How to Get to Zalipie
Zalipie lies about 90km east of Krakow. Its remote location makes it a real hidden gem in Poland. Unfortunately, without a car or tour, it can be hard to get to. If you’re on a road trip from Krakow to Warsaw (like we were), Zalipie is a little off the direct route but well worth a stop!
Unfortunately, there are no direct buses or trains to Zalipie. It is possible to travel from Krakow to Tarnow’s city by train or bus (both taking approx 1.5 hours). From Tarnow to Zalipie, you will have to take a 40-minute taxi ride. We highly recommend a tour or renting a car instead.
Where to Stay in Zalipie
Because it’s a small village, there aren’t very many accommodation options in Zalipie. Your best option is to either stay in Krakow or Tarow and travel to Zalipie for the day or as a stopover on your road trip.