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Drohiczyn in the Bug Valley

We paid a visit to the famous town

sunny 22 °C

By ferry across the Bug, Drohiczyn

By ferry across the Bug, Drohiczyn

Our local friends – Martha and Chris – invited us to this journey to Drohiczyn since, as they thought, the peace of local churches and the beauty of the Bug River and its banks can soothe the frayed nerves, which is exactly what we need in our fast-paced, everyday life. Drohiczyn, a small town in Siemiatycze County, in the southern part of Podlaskie Voivodeship, our neighboring province. The town is the historical capital of Podlasie. The full name of the town is Drohiczyn nad Bugiem — Drohiczyn-on-the-Bug. Many people who have been there regard it an extraordinary and charming place. At first glance, Drohiczyn, with its population of about 1,800 inhabitants, may seem an inconspicuous town. However, from the side of the Bug River there is a beautiful panorama, dominated by the Castle Hill, the building of the former Collegium Nobilium and the cathedral church. Extraordinary natural values, rich history and culture make Drohiczyn a real gem on the tourist map of Poland, and we made sure of it.

Views from the ferry across the Bug, Drohiczyn

Views from the ferry across the Bug, Drohiczyn

At the ferry, Drohiczyn

At the ferry, Drohiczyn

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At the ferry across the Bug and a view of the observation tower

Drohiczyn is known from Polish literature. Henryk Sienkiewicz, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Stefan Żeromski and Barbara Wachowicz wrote about this place. Recently, Drohiczyn and its inhabitants have also appeared in the television series "Ojciec Mateusz" (“Father Matthew”).

Views from the Observation Tower, Drohiczyn

Views from the Observation Tower, Drohiczyn

The first mention of Drohiczyn in written sources comes from the first half of the 12th century. The scientists are sure that a settlement already existed here around the 6th century AD. The stronghold initially belonged to Mazovia, then to the Principality of Halych-Volhynia, Lithuania and the Polish Crown.

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King Daniel I mosaics at the Motorcycle Museum, the country study exhibition on the second floor of the museum/Coronation of 1253 in Drohiczyn, a woodcarving by Lucjan Boruta, 1980

In 1253, the Galician prince Daniel Romanowicz was crowned here as the only king of Ruthenia (the feudal state of Kyiv Rus) in history. He reigned in 1253-1264. He was a wise ruler and talented commander, who conducted an active pro -European policy. He is known in Ukraine as King Danylo of Galicia, who was blessed to be a king by the Pope himself, when he received a crown from Vatican. He is also considered to be the only Ukrainian king. There is Halytska Street in Lviv and an impressive monument in King Daniel (“Danylo” in Ukrainian) of Galicia Square. Thus, the small and previously unknown town of Drohiczyn became one of the four coronation cities in Poland, after Gniezno and before Krakow and Warsaw. Drohiczyn was elevated to the rank of a city under Magdeburg law in 1498 by Prince Alexander Jagiellon.

By an act issued in Toruń in 1520, Sigismund the Old established the Podlaskie Voivodeship, although the beginnings of its creation date back to 1513. Drohiczyn becomes the capital of the newly created voivodeship and remained so until 1795.

The central square of Drohiczyn

The central square of Drohiczyn


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A nice wooden house in the main street
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The inscription on the Heroes Obelisk reads, "To the soldiers of the Polish Underground Home Army
1939-1956
from the society
1999"
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The inscription on the memorial plaque attached to the memorial cross in the central square reads,
"In memory of the Resurrection of Poland on the anniversary of the Constitution, May 3, 1919
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A tourist bus in Drohiczyn / At the central square of the town

Drohiczyn is located on the Great Warsaw-Vilnius Postal Route, which in the 17th and 18th centuries connected the capital of the Kingdom of Poland with the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 17th century, the city became a recognized educational center, thanks to the establishment of the Jesuit College and the Piarist College. During the "Swedish Deluge" the city suffered much destruction, and during World War II as well.

The Bug Valley sights information board Drohiczyn

The Bug Valley sights information board Drohiczyn


The Bug Valley State Reserve information board, Drohiczyn

The Bug Valley State Reserve information board, Drohiczyn

There are many recreational areas in the municipality, the most attractive of them are the areas along the Bug River. You can rent kayaks, bicycles or take a ferry crossing. You will be fascinated by the unspoilt nature of the Bug River. The river is a great fishing place for professional anglers and amateurs.

Visiting the Castle Hill, Drohiczyn

Visiting the Castle Hill, Drohiczyn


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There is an inscription on the memorial plaque attached to the Independence Obelisk on the top of the Castle Hill. The inscription reads,
To those who gave their lives for their homeland
for eternal glory on the 10th anniversary of Poland's Independence.
Residents of the town of Drohiczyn
November 11, 1928
2022

The coat-of-arms of  Drohiczyn

The coat-of-arms of Drohiczyn

The Castle Hill reminds us of the military power of the rulers of the Drohiczyn stronghold, who were Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian princes. There was a defensive castle on the hill, and it stood until the Swedish Deluge. It is believed that the first stronghold was built on the mountain by the Prince of Kyiv, Yaroslav the Wise, in the mid-11th century The castle was a wooden structure with two stone towers. From here, the Kyiv Rus princes could control the trade routes from Ruthenia to Poland via the Bug River and overland.

The stronghold was destroyed both by human hands (Khowański's Russian troops, who entered here before the Swedes), and by the waters of the Bug River. Those mighty waters washed away the high slope of the hill for centuries, causing landslides, which reduced the surface of the hill.

There is a paved path to the top of the hill. In 1928, a stone obelisk was erected on the top of the Castle Hill commemorating the tenth anniversary of Poland regaining independence. From here there is a beautiful view of the picturesque Bug River valley.

There are legends associated with the Castle Hill. According to one of them, once every 100 years, on Midsummer Night, on the full moon, at midnight, the mountain wall opens, armed knights come out of it, get into boats and sail - some up, others down the river. No one knows the destination of their journey. There is a belief that before dawn, the knights must return to the stronghold, because its slope will be closed for another century. It once happened that one of the knights saw a beautiful Drohiczyn woman by the water, forgot about the passing time, jumped out of the boat, but the girl disappeared into a deep ravine. The knight wanted to return to his people, but it was too late. From then on, he wanders by the river, waiting for the night when Castle Hill will be open.

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The Firefighters Center, Drohiczyn

The Firefighters Center, Drohiczyn


There are a lot of architectural monuments and places worth visiting in Drohiczyn. We managed to visit some of them:

  • Holy Trinity Cathedral, a temple built in the years 1696 — 1709 that contains: the late Gothic crucifix from the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries; the late Renaissance baptismal font from the beginning of the 17th century; the 18th century murals; the necropolis in the church basement, where the people distinguished by the Church and Poland were buried.
  • The Post-Franciscan church dedicated to the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary and built in the years 1682 - 1715 in the Baroque style, with rich sculptural decorations in the main altar.
  • St.Nicholas the Miracle-Maker Russian Orthodox Church built in the years 1763 - 1792 in the classicist style. There is an iconostasis, old icons, polychrome in the neo-Byzantine style.
  • Puszczyk Ecological Education Center, a multimedia exhibition presenting the wealth of nature on the Bug River.
  • The Bug River Kayak Tourism Center, a real treat for kayaking enthusiasts, the only museum of this type in Poland.
  • The Vintage Motorcycles Exhibition, the oldest exhibits come from the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Góra Zamkowa — the Castle Hill - former stronghold, viewpoint to the picturesque Bug River valley.
  • The Observation Tower, a viewing point on the Bug River.

There are other places worth visiting in Drohiczyn and its environs:

  • The Church of the Benedictine Nuns, a late Baroque single-nave building, known for its beautiful façade, with an exceptionally plastic architectural line.
  • The Diocesan Museum containing the largest collection of vestments made of robe belts in Europe, a rich display of monstrances, old prints, royal documents, and collections presenting the history of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.
  • Fortifications of the Molotov Line — 20 bunkers built by the Soviet Union in Drohiczyn Municipality in 1940 — 1941.

Our friends took us to the Russian Orthodox Church first. There was a luturgy there.

St.Nickolas Orthodox Church, Drohiczyn

St.Nickolas Orthodox Church, Drohiczyn

St.Nicholas the Miracle-Maker Russian Orthodox Church built in the years 1763 - 1792 in the classicist style. We saw the iconostasis, some old icons, and the polychrome in the neo-Byzantine style. Like in all other Orthodox churches, no photography was allowed inside the church. However, I took the liberty of taking a couple of pictures from outside the entrance door.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Drohiczyn

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Drohiczyn

We also visited the Holy Trinity Cathedral and attended a liturgy there. It was a Holy Spirit Day, thus it was a very special occasion for us. We had some time to walk around the cathedral and to admire the old canvases on its walls. It was just like being at the museum. Each canvas has an inscription, and you can learn its name, the approximate date of creation and even the artist name, if it is known.

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Apostle Saint Juda Thaddeus, a Baroque painting, 1725/Annunciation of the Lord, a mannerist painting, early 17th century
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Saint Francis Borgias, Jesuit, a Baroque painting, 1725/Saint Joseph with Baby Jesus, a Baroque painting, the 1st half 18th century
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Prince Saint Kazimierz, a Baroque painting, early 18th century/Saint Józef Kalasanty, the founder of the Piarists, a Classicist painting probably by Karol Hübel, Piarist, late 18th century
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St.Andrzej Bobolia / Vision of Saint Stanisław Kostka, a Baroque painting, 1725, author unknown. Saint Stanisław Kostka is the first Polish Jesuit raised to the altars.

The cathedral is a baroque, three-nave temple, built in the years 1696-1709 by monks of the Society of Jesus, on the site of an earlier Renaissance church destroyed in 1657 by the Swedes and the troops of the Transylvanian Prince George Rákóczi. The Jesuit temple was built with donations from the nobility and clergy, especially thanks to the generosity of the Żardecki, Kuczyński, Chądzyński and Wilczewski families.

The new church was consecrated by Stefan Rupniewski, Bishop of Tusk, on January 10, 1723, and from that date on a high hill on the Bug River, the same silhouette of the building stands - although its hosts have changed over the centuries.

In 1791, the legacy of the Jesuits was taken over by Piarist priests, and from 1845 it was taken over by the diocesan priests, and remains as such to this day.

The temple was originally richly equipped, decorated with eleven altars, with altarpieces carved in black oak, 38 paintings, 153 figures of saints inside, a beautiful pulpit, a baptismal font, organs, and murals on the walls. The figure of Christ Crucified, the image of the Holy Trinity from the main altar and the image of Mary in the scene of the Annunciation were particularly revered - as they were famous for their graces.

Visiting the basement of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Drohiczyn

Visiting the basement of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Drohiczyn

The altar of the Holy Trinity Cathedral

The altar of the Holy Trinity Cathedral

The church already had basements that served as an underground necropolis, where the mortal remains of people who made contributions to the Church and Poland were buried.

The church functioned continuously, but suffered a great damage as a result of World War II. The Germans used the church as a handy shooting range. Later, the Soviet authorities completely destroyed the church’s beautiful Baroque interior. They turned the church into a stable for the horses of security forces. They also desecrated the resting place in the basement of the temple.

From 1950, the temple served as the pro-cathedral of the Pinsk Diocese. The papal proclamation of June 5, 1991, establishing the Drohiczyn Diocese, elevated the temple of the Holy Trinity to the status of a cathedral.

As a result of the general renovation carried out in 2002-2004, the church gained a new design.
The 18th-century frescoes and the underground necropolis were restored.
The oldest religious monuments are: a 16th-century figure of Christ Crucified, a painting of the Holy Trinity, eight 18th-century paintings, a historic baptismal font, a tabernacle. In the cathedral, in the right altar with the image of Our Lady, there are the relics of Pope John Paul II.

Holy Trinity Cathedral

Holy Trinity Cathedral

The cathedral has its „roots”:

  • There was probably a church here earlier, when Drohiczyn was under Piast rule at the end of the 12th century.
  • Around 1237, a Latin temple was built here by the Brothers Knights of Christ (commonly called the Dobrzyński Brothers).
  • A wooden church was founded here by King Władysław Jagiełło in 1386.
  • A Renaissance church was built here in 1555.

There are 18th-century buildings around the cathedral: the former Jesuit monastery, which today houses the Diocesan Curia and the Major Seminary; the building of the famous old Jesuit Collegium Nobilium, which is the seat of the Drohiczyn bishops.

We visited the old necropolis under the Holy Trinity Cathedral and saw the tombs and memorials there, among them the memorial at the burial site of the city mayors, who were buries there from 1520 util 1795. We read the inscription on the memorial stone. It reads,

Listening to the words of Jan Paweł il:
We raise you up, our old land, as the fruit of the multitude of generations that surpasses hatred
.
We remember the Voivodes of Podlaskie from 1520-1795, whose mortal remains, desecrated during World War I, were respectfully placed in this crypt and reburied on June 10, 2010

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Our friends took us to the former Franciscan Church dedicated to the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary. We found out from the information board that the Franciscans had lived in Drohiczyn from the beginning of the 15th century until they were expelled from the town by the order of the Russian government on May 17, 1832 for their alleged participation in the January Uprising (in fact, Russian-Polish war). In 1836, the tsarist government replaced the Franciscans with Orthodox nuns. In the years 1833-1837, the former Franciscan church (sacristy) was converted into the Orthodox church dedicated to St. Nicanor. In 1838, the former cloister was turned into prison, and after the January Uprising into army barracks (1865-1897).

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Visiting the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Drohiczyn

After Poland regained independence, the cloister building was restored, and the high school after I. T. Kraszewski name was installed there. The church restoration started in 1929. However it was again destroyed during the 2nd World War. The Soviet army turned the church into a garbage dump. On 23 June 1941, the Soviet soldiers set fire to the church, and as a result its roof, altars and the upper section of its belfry were completely destroyed. During the Soviet occupation, its condition was the worst among all the churches in Drohiczyn.
After the war, the efforts of parishioners of Drohiczyn headed by their parish priest Rev. Edward Juniewicz, but primarly by Rev. Wiktor Gliński who was the Rector of the former Franciscan church and later became the parish priest of Drohiczyn, resulted in necessary renovation, and reconstruction of three former altars.
Since 1949 the church has been the school church of the Drohiczyn parish. As a result of the efforts undertaken by the Bishop of Drohiczyn, on June 27, 1996, the former cloister buildings were regained from the Polish State Treasury, and on December 22, 2000, the whole area was assigned to diocesan purposes (the Diocesan Museum, the Dialogue Center of Podlasie, and the Home for Retired Priests).

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There is a war memorial in the left nave of the church. The iscription on the blck memorial plqaue reads,
"In memory of the members of the Home Army : Jan and Jerzy Romanowski, the students of the middle school in Drohiczyn,
and Ludwik Tararuj, Edmund Markiewicz, Michał Lipiński - convicted in 1946 in a show trial in our school for long-term prison and death penalty
Drohiczyn
June 28, 2009
School friends"
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We paid a visit to Puszczyk Ecological Education Center, a wonderful exhibition presenting the wealth of nature on the Bug River, as well as the Bug River Kayak Tourism Center, a great place for kayaking enthusiasts, the only museum of this type in Poland.

Puszczyk Educational Center, Drohiczyn

Puszczyk Educational Center, Drohiczyn


Puszczyk Educational Center, Drohiczyn

Puszczyk Educational Center, Drohiczyn

There is an aquarium that is a home for most of the fishes that inhabit the river: common roach, European perch, Northern pike, asp, common bream, catfish, and tench.
We found out about many interesting things while visiting the famous Kayaking Museum. The kayak simulator is great there!

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The Papal Kayak information board and the Papal Kayak at the museum, Drohiczyn

We saw the Papal Kayak called PAX in this museum. Here is a story behind PAX kayak...
"In 1990s, meetings of Tourism and Recreation Commission of the Polish Kayak Association were held in Cracow. One of these meetings was attended by an elderly man who introduced himself as Mr. Deskur — a relative of Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur, as it turned out later. He came to the office of the Commission with a humble offer to donate a kayak for someone who could still use it. Mr. Deskur, due to his age, was unable to participate in kayak expeditions, and he was not using the kayak anymore. He wanted to give it to someone who would take good care of the kayak and would use it actively, just like he did. According to Izabela Książek, during the kayak inspection, it turned out that this particular kayak was used during the summer trips organized by students, whose spiritual guide was Karol Wojtyła, whom they called "Wujek" ("Uncle") — the future Pope John Paul II. According to Mr. Deskur, Karol Wojtyła and his students, kayaked along a different trail each year and their meetings were some form of spiritual retreat. Each participant was eagerly participating in reflections and conversations with "Wujek". The best occasion for this was to sit together in one kayak. Karol Wojtyła provided support and listened to participants' confessions, which in fact meant that at certain point of the excursion he travelled in every kayak. Based on that story, we may suspect that Karol Wojtyła was one of the users of the PAX kayak, presented in this exhibition."

Visiting the Kayak Musum, Drohiczyn

Visiting the Kayak Musum, Drohiczyn


Visiting the Kayak Musum, Drohiczyn

Visiting the Kayak Musum, Drohiczyn


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Visiting the Motorbike Museum in Drohiczyn

Visiting the Motorbike Museum in Drohiczyn


Visiting the Motorbike Museum in Drohiczyn

Visiting the Motorbike Museum in Drohiczyn

The second floor of the Motorbike Museum is practically a lore lore museum that contains mostly the devices and appliances that were used in this area in old times.

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Visiting the Motorcycle Museum, Drohiczyn_the local lore exhibition on the second floor

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This is where we saw one of the last maps of the Polish Kingdom -the Map of the Congress Kingdom from 1834.
The map is in French because, in the light of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland of 1815, this language was officially in force in all contacts of the king (and at the same time the Tsar of Russia!) with the Government and the Sejm (the Parliament) of the Kingdom of Poland.
There are still voivodeships on the map, and soon there will be an "administrative reform" that will change these European voivodeships of the Kingdom into Asian-style "governorates". This reform took place on March 7, 1837 and was the result of repression after the November Uprising, or practically the Russian-Polish War, of 1830-1831.
When it comes to the map itself, you should pay attention to its colors, because at that time, color printing (five colors: black, blue, yellow, green and red) was a really big technical challenge.
An interesting fact is that Drohiczyn was included on this map, but was the only one not signed. Probably the "Russian Side" which was still in the Kingdom was already in decline and the "Lat Side" of Drohiczyn was located in the empire in which only larger cities were marked on this map. The creator of this map remembered the historical role of Drohiczyn, but it is possible that tsarist censorship did not allow this historical heritage to be recalled on the map.
Attention! The map is not oriented perfectly north, it is rotated approximately 8.4° counterclockwise.
We have also read about the origin of the town name. The legend is on the information bard on the second floor of te motorbike museum.

Visiting the Motorcycle Museum, Drohiczyn_the second floor exhibition

Visiting the Motorcycle Museum, Drohiczyn_the second floor exhibition

Where the name Drohiczyn came from
A very long time ago, Prince Yaroslav ruled the state of Kyiv Rus. He lived in a beautiful castle with his beautiful wife. When their son was born, filled with happiness and love, they named him Drogita. The boy had large cornflower-blue eyes and long white curls fell around his neck. Most often he was dressed in a white Inian shirt with an embroidered selvedge.
The happiness of the prince and his family did not last long - the Turks attacked Rus from the south. The prince ordered his servant to part his hands. When the warriors arrived, Jarosław said goodbye to his wife and son and went to war. When he drove away, they watched him for a long time until he disappeared in a cloud of dust. The Princess then cried loudly, feeling that she would not see him again. One month passed, then another, and finally a year, and the prince was gone. The Princess became emaciated, began to decline, and died shortly thereafter. Drogita was taken care of by servants. His mother was buried outside the city in the family grave.
After winning the war, the Prince returned to the castle. He was very happy with his son, but he could not be without his wife for long. Two years later he got married. The three of them often went for a walk to the cemetery. The boy’s stepmother, pretending to love her step son, tried to please her husband telling him how she loved Drogita. However, when the Prince went away to see the surrounding lands or to go hunting, she shouted at the boy and even beat him. Drogita did not complain to his father because he knew that high up there, he had his real mother who was with God, and even though she was gone, she still loved him. He often ran to her grave.

When Drogita was nine years old, he picked the most beautiful flowers that grew in the garden and placed them on his mother's grave. The stepmother, very upset by this fact, gave the boy a few slices of dry bread and told him to leave the family home.

The boy ran out of town once again to his mother. He sat there for a long time and finally fell asleep. He was afraid to come home, he was afraid of his stepmother, and his father was at war at the time. Drogita went towards the forest. When he entered there, he was filled with fear because he heard so many different sounds of animals and birds.

As he walked forward, he noticed an old man shivering from cold under a tree. He felt sorry for him. He took off his coat, gave him a piece of bread, and together they moved on. The road was not so hard anymore. The old man asked him,”Where are you going and why?», to which Drogita replied, «My evil stepmother drove me out of the house, and my father went to war.»
They slept the night under the tree. They wandered like this for several days. At the crossroads, the grandfather said, «I have to go back, I have another task. Thank you, boy, for your good heart. You follow the sun west, and when you notice a river, follow its flow. Don't worry about anything, because good God will watch over you. When you see the most beautiful place - stay there.»
And so Drogita wandered, almost all summer. He ate what was in the forest. Finally, he saw several hills above the Bug (that was the river's name). In the darkness he recognized that one of them was the tallest. Here he stopped to rest. Tired, he fell asleep. He saw his mother in his dream. She told him: "You made the right choice. It's the most beautiful place here, and you will have the best life. We will help you build a house." In his dream he saw elves coming out of the depths of the mountain. In the morning, there were clay bowls full of food and various tools at his head made of stone.
The legend was collected and written by Helena Boczon

Sauntering in downtown Drohiczyn

Sauntering in downtown Drohiczyn

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Weekend in Drohiczyn information board on the riverbank
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Posted by Vic_IV 12:08 Archived in Poland Tagged church the of cathedral hill castle great holy route virgin mary trinity assumption masovia mazovia blessed postal siedlce oginski drohiczyn warsaw-vilnius

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Comments

Yes it does look very peaceful and lots of lovely architecture, too.

by irenevt

That's true. There are also enough hotels and cafes, therefore it seems a nice weekend getaway.

by Vic_IV

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