Naleczow, Poland

Nałeczów (Naleczow)

Naleczow is a small town nestling in the Roztocze hills between Lublin and Kazimierz Dolny. It is a
quiet spa town with a large park and is surrounded by wooded hills in which you can walk. Nałęczów has been visited by Poles to take the water or to recover from illness from the early 19th century until today and is the most important reason for its existence as a town.

Stare Łazienki (The Old Baths) was built in 1820 and a park and lake created along with it. A well known Polish professor, Professor Piotr Celiński,  had visited the site in 1817 and pronounced the water good for the body, inside and out. The well he examined is incorporated into the building and named after him. Famous Poles who stayed in the town include the writers Boleslaw Prus and Stefan Zeromski, several of their novels being based on the vicinity.

On the outskirts of the town are two water bottling companies which sell the water in either natural or carbonated forms, they are Nałęczowianka and XX. The carbonated from Naleczowianka has to be opened carefully, but certainly this is they have the better water.

Even during the communist times Naleczow remained popular, with many new sanatoriums being established. It was common practice, and to some extent still is, to send people recovering from illnesses to stay in such sanatoriums. Some of these places are like hospitals, and one well known one treats people straight after suffering heart attacks. Sanatorium social life is very important, people are away from their families and many have felt free to have liaisons with members of the opposite sex, even though they are married. These health resorts have always had more than their fair share of restaurants, cafes, and dance halls.

These days the sanatoriums have been privatized, and most in Naleczow are owned by one company, which is doing very well and planning to build a hydrotherapy and recreation centre, including a large swimming pool and residences.

Naleczow is a much larger place than one at first realizes, when one arrives all that is to be seen is a small centre in a valley, surrounded by a forest. There are very few shops, a hotel and a number of villas and other houses, along with a large park with its palace and old sanatorium. The park is almost always the first place people visit, they wander around the lake, visit the palmiarnia (a glasshouse with palms and ferns, where you can drink the water), and maybe have a coffee and cake at the Malachowski palace. An added attraction is an unremarkable spring which is said to have a very special property: those who drink the water there soon fall in love. Is it true? Well, all I can say is that after many years of resisting it, a group of her students finally convinced her to try. Not so long afterwards she met me...

If you arrive early in Naleczow there is a bustling small country market on one side of the bus station, and a large shop which has barely changed from its Communist origins. If you are not adventurous, or have not come armed with some information, you now jump back in your car, or onto a bus, and go home.

However, Naleczow has many small delights, but they have to be sought out. Near the park there is a small wooden church, very simple and yet very beautiful, built in the Tatra mountain style. In fact a lot of the town is built in this style, especially the numerous villas. If you continue further along and then take a small side turning up the hill you will find Zeromski's cottage; this is now a museum and it may even be open when you visit. If it is not, then the best thing is to continue up the hill and enjoy a walk in the forest where you will discover some of the narrow gullies the area is famous for plus odd graves from the First World War.

If you head in another direction, you will pass the new cinema, recently built to replace the tiny and decayed former fleapit. Nest you will pass the home for alcoholic priests - those who have become over-used to imbibing the holy wine. Next door to this is a faded brick villa, with plaster falling from its walls, and a plaque stating that Boleslaw Prus stayed there for a number of years. Formerly this was a bustling cafe, called Ewelina, but somehow it is fading and even the former excellent range of cakes is down to two or three. This is all rather sad as it still has so much potential, but the heart has somehow disappeared. From the tables out front one can admire the villas on the other side of the road, an inexplicable monument and local farmers as they pass on their tractors.

A third direction, up a steep and unremarkable street opposite the bus station, takes you past a very Italianate 'palace', which has excellent views and currently houses a pub. Now you discover where Naleczow has hidden the inevitable blocks of flats, but these are quickly passed and a few random turnings will have you in a maze of lanes lined with cottages, small farms and hundreds of houses of the middle class. If someone tells you that Soviet Poland had no middle class, do not believe them. Most were party members and spent a great deal of their time, and probably party resources, building their houses. Here there are many second homes, in the summer cars with Warsaw plates are very common.

In this part of the town there is also the well known 'Feniks' private health and beauty centre, patronized by the stars of Polish TV, film and stage. They come from all over the country and they say that the techniques used by the owner, a well known female doctor, make them feel young and beautiful again. To us, from the outside, it had some of the gravity of a prison camp with its tall and dark railings and security system. Is the security to keep unwanted people out, or the inmates in? Walking in the grounds was a young and very thin cat, looking non too healthy. Is this a result of the system, or what the stars aspire to? We do not know what the system used is, but often it is the change and the healthy diet which does the trick, but I suppose those with money or status to maintain need a place like this.

Naleczow is best visited by car or bus, there is a railway station but it is several miles away from the town - so far that only misplaced optimism and the fact that train companies need the destination listed could have led to its naming. After years of stagnation the town is slowly turning into a place well worth visiting again, and not just for people from Lublin.

Podgorze - a well known, Zakopane style of wooden house in Naleczow.

Small Church, built in 1917-18, for the people attending the various spa's.

Countryside just outside the town.

You don't have to walk far frok the centre before you are strolling through beautiful countryside, on stony, grassy or earthern tracks.

An old wooden house that seems to have done some time with light industry, possibly as a mill as it is right on the edge of a wide stream.

Naleczow has links with Longueau in France. This site, http://www.ardoan.fr.fm/, gives you some info about Longueau if you are interested, but nothing about Naleczow.


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