A Renaissance town amidst beautiful landscapes, Kazimierz Dolny is a real Mecca for artists and writers. What makes it stand out are historic buildings and the romantic ruins of a 14th-century castle. It dates back to the rule of King Casimir the Great.
The stronghold once stood guard over the nearby Vistula crossing. On the opposite river bank, in the town of Janowiec, is another castle, built in the 16th century. Recently renovated, today it houses the Vistula River Museum.
This section of the Vistula River is especially picturesque, and the best way to appreciate this is by taking a boat cruise. Other places worth visiting in the area are gorges that cut deep into the surrounding hills. Within a close distance from Kazimierz are Nałęczów, one of the most popular spas in Poland, and Lublin, the capital of the Voivodeship. The latter is famous for its beautiful old town.
Kazimierz Dolny Art Colony
Kazimierz Dolny and art go hand in hand. An artists’ colony has existed here for almost 100 years. The town attracts tourists with its beautiful architecture, the meandering Vistula, and exceptional loess gorges. You can't find gorges like these anywhere else. It's the gorges that add real charm to this place. Even with many tourists around, you can always find some secluded gorge.
The nature, architecture, provincial character, and Arcadian atmosphere of this place have inspired many generations of artists. The first ones appeared in Kazimierz in the late 18th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts started to organize outdoor painting workshops for its students here. This started a vibrant artists’ colony, which flourished during the interwar years.
In 1925, St. Luke’s Fraternity was established in Kazimierz, with Antoni Michalak, Bolesław Cybis, and Jan Zamoyski among its members. During World War II, the town was almost entirely destroyed and many Kazimierz artists perished. In 1947, Karol Siciński, an architect with artistic aspirations, took on the task of reconstructing the city, restoring its beauty. As a result, artists began to return.
Kazimierz Confraternity of Art
The establishment of the Kazimierz Confraternity of Art in 2000, which gathers over 50 artists today, tried to unite the artistic diaspora. They show their works all over Poland, organize auctions for friends in need, and give their paintings to charities. Thanks to them, Kazimierz joined the European Federation of Artists’ Colonies in Overijse near Brussels. In 2014, they organized the 1st European Festival of Artists’ Colonies. Artists from Szklarska Poreba, Zakopane, Krzemieniec, and Worpswede attended the event.
Many colonies created in Europe at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries did not survive the turmoil of history. The artistic traditions in Kazimierz were never interrupted despite the wars, political transformations as well as artistic changes that swept through the 20th century.
Paintings by Kazimierz artists are now displayed at a few dozen galleries—the exact list is available at the information point in the market square. The Celejowska Tenement, a branch of the Nadwiślanskie Museum (Senatorska 11/13), shows works by artists linked to Kazimierz, mainly paintings from the 1918-1939 period. The photographs of Benedykt Jerzy Dorys keep the beauty of pre-war Kazimierz. A permanent exhibition of his works is at the synagogue on Lubelska 4.
Kazimierz Dolny Geography
Kazimierz Dolny has a permanent population of 2,000, is on the east bank of the Vistula River in that part of the Lublin Upland known as the Naleczow Plateau. The town is 45 km from Lublin, about 140 km to the south of Warsaw, in the Pulawy County of the Lublin Voivodship. It enjoys a mild climate throughout the year.
Since 1979 the area around Kazimierz Dolny is protected by special decree as a landscape park. The loess gorges, which are so typical for this terrain, have been either carved by the Vistula or are a result of human activity.