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Town located 70 km north of Warsaw

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      11.12.2010 15:45
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      A really pretty town

      When my mother-in-law came to stay last August I wanted to take her on several trips outside Warsaw to show her the great outdoors. Her friends and neighbours in England had painted a somewhat negative picture about Warsaw, Poles and Poland in general. I wanted to erase that image and show her that Poland isn't such a bad place to live and we aren't all living in a concrete prison.

      One of the towns that had been recommended to me by friends was Pultusk and as it is situated only 60 kilometres from Warsaw heading towards the Mazury Lakes I thought why not, let's give it a go. I approached the town from Legionowo by car. This is really quite a beautiful town;one of the oldest in Mazovia and close to nature. Pultusk lies close to the Narew river within the Nawianski National Park and the river forks into two arms surrounding the old town of Pultusk.

      Bridges, boulevards, canoes and yachts give Pultusk a Venetianesque character, parts of preserved defensive walls adding medieval character. By canoeing or yachting along the arms of the river you can reach the Augostow Lakes. Also accessible and worth viewing are the edges of the Biala woodland areas. Here you really are in the outdoors and you can go cycling, walking or horse-riding. I love horse riding and don't have the time or motivation to go too often with living in the city so it was good for my soul to take a trip through the woods on horseback while my mother-in-law who is terrified of horses, spent the afternoon in the castle.

      The Kurpie region of Poland is known for its traditions; costume, dances, architecture and way of life. The woodland is an epicentre of the Kurpie region's cultural heritage. One thousand year old Pultusk, with its 16th century Renaissance castle, became a meeting place for Polish ex-pats and was called Polonia (a general term referring to all Poles living abroad). In 1989, the House of Polonia was opened in the castle. The castle is now open to the public and its wide halls have been restored and now house an art gallery which my mother-in-law spent most of the afternoon in and really enjoyed the artwork. There is also a concert hall which is sometimes used for conferences.

      Folk music is played for guests visiting the castle and if you are feeling a little peckish why not drop in the Dom Polonia Hotel especially if you like Polish cuisine. There are two restaurants in the hotel serving an excellent Polish menu and some International dishes. Prices are acceptable and my mother-in-law really enjoyed her crayfish soup as well as several cups of coffee she had in the cafe later on. I do believe there is a nightclub also but we didn't stay the evening so didn't have time to check it out. At 74 I somehow think my mother in law's dancing days are over but you never know.

      While we were in the vicinity we had a good look at some of Pultusk's produce like the famous pottery with a shiny red glaze. The patterned carpets are very bright and cheerful and the golden honey from Biala Woods is delicious especially on toast.

      All roads in the town lead to the Rynek (Market Square), one of the longest in Europe at 400 metres long and 40 metres wide, which in the 19th century was divided into separate stripe-shaped places of trade. Today the market is surrounded by townhouses yet in the very centre is a town hall with a clock tower, a seat to the municipal authorities and historical museum.

      The name of the town Pultusk was carved on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris by order of Napoleon who was pleased with his military campaign of 1806, near Pultusk.

      The churches of Pultusk formed the backdrop of W Gomulicki's novel - 'The Memories of the Navy Blue Uniform' which describes the authors youth and schooldays in the town. Gomulicki's school was situated at the Jesuit monastery.

      The most visited church is the Gothic Church of Bazylika Zwiastowania with its unique Renaissance stuccoes. Inside, the church is packed with a dozen baroque altars, has typical Renaissance decoration on the nave's vault but the aisles are pure Gothic. What I really admired was the 16th century wall paintings in the chapel. They were so well preserved and in immaculate condition.

      I knew very little about this 11th century town in Masovia. I am pleased that I took the time to travel outside Warsaw because this is one of the prettiest towns I have seen in this region. Not only is the architecture unusual but the customs and the language of the Polish people who live here is quite different and really interesting. I hope the town stays this way and is only ever invaded by Varsovians at weekends and not overrun by too many tourists.

      *Posted on other sites - slight changes for Dooyoo*

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