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Discovering the forgotten history and culture of the Polish-Slovak borderland

One of the most popular attractions in the region is, of course, rafting on the Dunajec River. The rafting route leads past such magical places as the Janosikowy Skok narrowing, Siedem Mnichów rocks or the Stuletnie Źródło spring. A cruise with Slovaks below the Leśnicki Potok stream gorge and on the Polish rafts in Szczawnica. Full of excitement after the rafting trip, the tourists would get off the rafts and there was not even a place to walk and stretch their legs, unless someone enjoyed wading up to their ankles in the muddy track. The path along the Grajcarek stream was long awaited. But it was worth it, because the inconspicuous path turned into a beautiful promenade. Carefully paved and with stylish benches, pergolas, lanterns and bridges over the Grajcarek stream.

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Someone could say that a piece of boardwalk is nothing to write home about. It is a big thing for Szczawnica and not a piece really. Although it is less than two kilometres long, it is one of the longest of such walking promenades in Poland. It starts at the bottom station of the Palenica mountain railway, runs along the Grajcarek stream, and finally joins the path which is the route leading along the Dunajec River to the Slovak Lesnica, where you can rest and taste Slovak dishes at their best. One should also remember that Szczawnica is a health resort – those who do not always have the strength for mountain hikes finally have a place for a comfortable walk.

The promenade has also been a stimulus for the development of local business – places have appeared along the promenade where one can sit down for a coffee or even have something to eat. It is appreciated not only by the residents, visitors and tourists. It was also among the 10 winners of the Municipal Investments 2012, competition organised during the European Economic Congress in Katowice. Szczawnica has not halted its projects with the promenade – it is continuing to develop the infrastructure, including modernising the rafting harbour so that it is fully accessible to disabled persons.

A lot is also going on in Muszyna, located several dozen kilometres away, which has also noticed that without investment and, above all, comprehensive information about the variety of ways to spend time in the area, it will not attract tourists. The "Milusia" mineral water drinking room has become the tourist information centre. It no longer frightens with its decor from a few dozen years ago, which sometimes caused gnashing of teeth, because it now has a modern, pleasant interior. You can sit comfortably with a tourist brochure in hand and, calmly sipping the famous Muszynianka mineral water, plan routes and places to see.

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You can also do it at home because, within the project “Getting to know cultural and natural attractions of the borderland", comprehensive information was prepared about active recreation in summer and winter, historical and natural attractions, gardens and spa parks, and of course mineral waters. Everything can be found on the website http://muszyna.pl/pl/1490/0/atrakcje.html.

Muszyna has decided to offer attractions for the more and less active, for both those who like adrenaline and those who prefer peace and nature, or history lovers. It is here that a section of the trans-European cycling route EuroVelo 11 - Prešov-Muszyna-Mniszek nad Popradem – was created.

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And it would not have been possible to create it if not for close cooperation with municipalities on the other side of the border, because the route is set so that it runs alternately on the Polish and Slovak sides of the Poprad river.

It is also in Muszyna that the largest Gardens of Senses, otherwise known as Sensory Gardens, are located. This is an innovative solution that adapts parks for therapeutic and educational purposes, including the needs of the blind.

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They affect all five senses: smell, sight, touch, hearing and taste. For example, in the area of smell, plants are selected in such a way that the intensity of fragrances is as strong as possible, and different bouquets combine to create unique aromatic compositions. What is more, blind people can touch each plant, rub the leaves or petals in their fingers to extract the depth of the scent. The smell-touch zone is dominated by plants of various textures, shapes and scents. You can walk there barefoot on the grass, which gently tickles all the receptors in your feet. There is also a zone of fairy tales and legends of Muszyna with huts of a witch and a herbalist, a miller and a townswoman and stories about hidden treasure and the devil Boruta. This is not the only unusual garden in Muszyna. There are also the only Biblical Gardens in Poland that present the image of biblical life and the history of salvation in a specific way.

There is also a beautifully prepared Park of Culture and Old Craft. The complex includes the Muszyna Old Manor, a former inn turned into a museum and the Potter's House. This is the result of two projects thanks to which the historic buildings were saved, reconstructed and given new functions. The 18th century inn moved to a new place and, once reconstructed, became the seat of the Regional Museum of Muszyna Estate within the project "Multifunctional houses in Muszyna, Ľubotína and Dubovice – centres of development of cross-border cooperation of the Municipality of Muszyna and the Minčol and Horná Torysa microregions". The Museum exhibits connected with the history and ethnography of Muszyna show mutual influences of Poland, Hungary and Ruthenia, the Roman and Greek churches and Judaism.

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Another stage was to place the Potter's House on the ruins of a former granary. It was done within the project "Muszyna, Kamenica, Lipany - strengthening transboundary cooperation in the sphere of cultural and natural heritage". 

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Here you can try your hand at pottery and make a clay vessel with your own hands. This is complemented by a magnificent garden which resembles the one described in old documents from the times of the former Muszyna Estate.

On both sides of the Polish-Slovak border, including the Muszyna Castle and the Castle in Plaveč, historical, archaeological and ethnographical research is being carried out. The aim is to gather historical knowledge about the region so that it is accessible to everyone. What has already been organised and published in the project "Muszyna - Plaveč: Discovering the forgotten history and culture of the Polish-Slovak borderland" is fascinating reading. There are descriptions of archaeological findings as well as folk legends passed down from generation to generation. For example, in Powroźnik there is talk of Czarna Młaka – a small forest lake with dark, murky depths. According to one version of the legend, a princess once rode there, obviously in a beautiful carriage with horses. Some say that robbers attacked, others say that a wheel fell off and the carriage, with the princess in it, leaned over. She fell into the lake and that's where it all bubbled and bubbled. They say that it's haunted there and that it was bubbling and bubbling there. This and other legends, as well as many historical curiosities from the region are collected in Wieści Muszyńskie (Muszyna News) available HERE.


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Blog prepared in the project entitled: "Cooperation that enhances and develops as a key to a positive image of Poland on the international arena", co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland as part of the competition "Public Diplomacy 2020 - a new dimension".

Project co-financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development
Fund under the Republic of Poland - Slovak Republic Cross-border Co-operation Operational
Programme 2007-2013 and from the funds of the Malopolskie Voivodship