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Stary Sącz and Levoča - Carpathian towns with a climate

It is an annoying and marring element of the landscape views, which cannot be ignored while driving to Podhale along the popular road to Zakopane called “Zakopianka”. The mountain panorama is obscured by large-size advertisements and this is also a problem faced by large cities and smaller towns. Advertisements and signs – both large and small – have at some point begun to appear like weeds; in large numbers and absolutely uncontrollably. They obscure views, spoil historical buildings, and are most often examples of blatant vulgarity. More and more local authorities are declaring war on them by adopting landscape resolutions and advertising codes in an attempt to bring some order to the advertising chaos. The effects so far, let's be honest, are not satisfactory. But it is also not an easy thing. The expectations of residents, tourists and entrepreneurs have to be reconciled, and the last group given time to adapt to the new rules of the game. This doesn’t happen quickly and the advertisements still disfigure the landscape.

One of the exceptions is Stary Sącz, which was a kind of initiator in the struggle for visual order. However, it took a slightly different approach. Under the project “Stary Sącz and Levoča - Carpathian towns with a climate. An innovative cross-border cultural tourism product", new signs appeared on the Stary Sącz market square. And what a result! Beautiful – forged, carved and painted, referring to old traditions and they really give the market square in Stary Sącz a unique atmosphere.

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They emphasise the specific, living tradition of the town and help create its unique atmosphere. In the fairytale Slovak partner town of Levoča, street signs were unified, direction signs and information boards were installed at each of the four main entrances to the town and in the town centre.

In their efforts to promote the town as a tourist attraction, the authorities of Stary Sącz put the emphasis on this unique atmosphere, which lets us take a break from the ever faster rush of the world around us and enjoy the peace and quiet and the increasingly fashionable "slow" mode. Both in Stary Sącz and in the Slovak Levoča, time flows differently from in large busy cities. And all visitors called “birds” (called “ptoki”) will have pleasant time here there. Residents of Stary Sącz call themselves “”tree trunks” („pnioki”), the ones who settled here or have been here for a mere two generations are called “bushes” („krzoki”). All others are simply „ptoki”.

And it’s for all visitors that Stary Sącz, in cooperation with its partner Slovak town of Levoča, has created a tool which has become a basic requirement nowadays – a free mobile application. Thus, within the project "Discovering the lost traces of history – on the trail of secrets in Stary Sącz and Levoča", a compendium of knowledge about the most interesting monuments and places worth seeing in charming towns on the borderline was created. And there are many such places with soul and history.

Suffice it to say that, according to legend, it was in Stary Sącz that the old poem Bogurodzica (Mother of God) was written. In Levoča there is the highest medieval altar in the world, which is also one of the most beautiful. Definitely, Stary Sącz and Levoča are towns with atmosphere worth visiting. In the application (downloadable in the Google Play store store or on the project website), you can find many hints about tour routes, but also what and where to eat and where to stay.

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The application has an audio guide in three languages, and the information about places or monuments is automatically activated by a GPS signal when we approach the place and the application is on. Interestingly, the application also includes city games. Two of them take place in Stary Sącz and two in Levoča – it is sightseeing in a slightly different way, for those who need additional challenges, and at the same time great fun for the whole family.

And when the pandemic is over we will soon see Stary Sącz again hosting the Early Music Festival, Pannonica Folk Festival and the Craft Fair, during which the marketplace is filled with stalls with folk handicrafts. Beautiful and unique. These are unique wonders and not the mass machine production which has, unfortunately, entered our homes.


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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