Thursday, 8 December 2011

Beautiful Books for Christmas

Christmas is coming and the list of people you want to buy gifts for is looking fat, whilst the wallet of ideas feels pretty small. There are many beautiful photographic books about Poland that might be appropriate for someone. Browsing through my bookcase I came across this example.

An alternative book title might be 'Architecture of the River Nida Valley'. It's by a local father and son team.

It wasn't actually a Christmas present, but comes from the time when I was working in the Holy Cross Region (Świętokrzyskie). Giving books of the local area was - and may still be - a standard way of regional and local authorities thanking guests for work in the region. This one being a much appreciated and unexpected gift from Kazimierza Poviat: I was working at regional level rather than with them directly.

The book sadly seems to be long out of print. Most of the photographs are of outstanding quality. However, Andrzej and Krzysztof published another book, Landscape of Ponidzia in 2004, which might still be available. I think the picture below is a view over the fields of Młodzawy Duże.

The example photographs are pretty much randomly chosen when flicking back and forward through the book. There are English language titles for the pictures, as well as an introduction to the area. As it says, this is the castle in Książ Wielki.

This sort of book would be an excellent starting point for someone wanting to take a country break. I remember walking holidays with great fondness from my school days and am particularly reminded by the pictures of walking in the Wye valley, not that the Wye Valley had anything to compete with the Ponidzia. This is a wooden church from 1527 in Chotelek Zielony, just Chotelek since 2006. What chance would a casual visitor have of a perfect day for a photograph like this? The church would be hidden by leaves in summer. (I'm adding links to English Wikipedia, but Polish readers should check the Polish original: it usually contains much more information.)

Every time I look at the book, I want to go back. I was so close, but I missed so much. I must have visited or just been through many of these places, but work pretty much enveloped my attention. These are the ruins of an 1853 late-classical synagogue in Działoszyce, once a 90% Jewish town.

There are so many beautiful places and pictures: over 170 pages. This is a street in Pinczów. Its quite ordinary in many ways, but even this is made to look interesting. (As you might tell, my pictures here are just with the book placed on the table top: flash assisted snaps. The original quality is much better.)

The human history of the area dates way back. One of the source rivers of the Nida flows from the Holy Cross Mountains to the north, with it's vast stone-age flint mines, mass production iron smelting and working centre for the free tribes fighting the Romans, and a large range of metal working sites from the area's period of industrial dominance in the water-power era. Back in Ponidzia, however, this is an 8th century hill fort in Stradów.

Still on any journey, even imaginary, there is a time to return home. As a farewell to the Architecture of Ponidzia, a picture of the 1802 Palace in the 1,000 year old village of Bejsce, which was designed by Jakub Kubicki who is credited with the palace here in Młochów.

I hope that the copyright owners will accept my reproduction as an acceptable tribute to their work. The book credits are:

Click here for a number of pictures of Jakub Kubicki's work.

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