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24 places/Podlasie

By train, bus, car, bicycle, and even the occasional balloon ride – for over a year, I embarked on a journey through the enigmatic corners of Eastern Podlasie. Meeting dozens of people and exploring 24 remote villages along the way.

Despite its proximity to Warsaw, this region stands worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of the city’s constant rush. With each successive expedition, it became ever clearer that the further east I ventured, the nearer I came to a realm of enchantment and mysticism. Here, the land is untouched by the city’s frenetic pace, glitter, and grandeur.

Podlasie is a melting pot where cultures and eight different religions converge. In the southeastern part of Podlasie, the focus of this report, Catholics are currently the minority, making it the only region in Poland with such a distinction. Amidst the tapestry of Podlasie, Tatar mosques and synagogues find their place. It’s often said that Podlasie represents a nexus of political, cultural, civilizational, and religious boundaries.

The vibrant blend of Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian cultures has given rise to a linguistic medley where Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Russian languages intermingle. This linguistic tapestry is most prominently observed in the villages. The Podlasie dialect, also known as “chachłacki” or the Ukrainian dialect, is a distinctive fusion of these linguistic influences.

Czeremcha, Drohiczyn, Grabarka, Białystok, Tokary, Bielsk Podlaski, Parcewo, Orla, Pohulanka, Dobrowoda, Policzna, Biała Straż, Zubacze, Klukowicze, Wilanowo, Sycze, Berezyszcze, Siemiatycze, Kleszczele, Dubicze Cerkiewne, Osłowo, Mielnik