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In a small town and in a village

Mazovian Village Museum in Sierpc Mazovian Village Museum in Sierpc

Bieżuń – Sierpc – Drobin

Bieżuń and Sierpc lie in the northwestern part of the Mazovian voivodeship. The area is full of forests and lakes that have not been fully discovered yet. The area is bordered by two voivodeships: Warmia and Mazury and Kujawskopomorskie. One should come on a trip here if only to see two unusual museums.

To get to Bieżuń from Warsaw one must take route no. 7 towards Gdańsk, and then route no. 10 to Bydgoszcz and finally route no. 561 to Żuromin. It's a little over 100 km from the capital. Bieżuń is a very old city. The first mention of it comes from the foundation act of 1406. It had been private property for many years. It belonged, inter alia, to the Great Crown Chancellor Andrzej Zamoyski, who settled here in 1767. In 1776 the Parliament ordered Zamoyski to draft a code of legal rights. It was in Bieżuń where he worked on it. After the second partition of Poland the town became part of the so-called South Prussia. Since then it had continuously changed owners and had been subject to looting.

Today the main attraction is the local museum. It is open for a very short time, on weekdays (except Mondays and days following holidays) from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m., on Saturdays and Sundays from 11.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.

The Museum is housed in a restored former hospital, which was founded by Konstancja Zamoyska in the late eighteenth century. The exhibits show the life of a small town in the second half of the nineteenth century. The tours starts with the doctor's surgery. The original furniture comes from the office of Piotr Wincenty Głuszkiewicz. What draws attention is the gynecological couch and a table from the interwar period, and a full set of obstetric instruments. Interesting x-rays pictures also survive. Dr. Antoni Wolski's prescription book is of interest, as he had written down ingredients of different medicines for various diseases for the period of half a century. The bookcase features medical books.

The next room is a bedroom (from the late 20's and 30's of XX century) with a set of furniture and hygienic instruments. We move from the bedroom to the salon/drawing-room.

The first floor features a very interesting exhibition: 'Bieżuń and its inhabitants in the past'. Old documents and photographs are gathered here. They are souvenirs from national uprisings, the Second World War, including all of its front lines. Before the Second World War Jews constituted 50% of the Bieżuń population. The museum presents the Torah, candlesticks and other Judaica. The museum staff, who vividly describe the history of the city, presents the exhibitions and the stories connected with some exhibits.

After leaving the museum one should go to the old mansion. The road located just around the corner of the museum building will take you there. A private owner began repairs, but the work was interrupted. One can still see the great block of the palace, two outbuildings and a park with moats.

The second destination of our trip - the Mazovian Village Museum - is located just outside Sierpc, on the road towards Bydgoszcz. The journey from Bieżuń will take us only about half an hour. First we take route no. 541, then just a short distance along route no. 10 towards Bydgoszcz. The place, which is a rare case in Poland, is well marked. The open-air museum occupies quite a large area. Both entire rural farmsteads and individual buildings were moved here. It features cottages of the village dwellers. In order to better secure the old rural households guests are only allowed into the first chamber of the cottages, whereas the other rooms can only be viewed through plastic door. The museum also houses a former school with a preserved teacher's apartment.

The building of the noble's manor features the typical interior of the former manor estate of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One enters a spacious hall with an impressive chest used as decoration to move on to see comfortable and beautiful living room furniture. The old manor kitchen, with copper and brass vessels, is located in close proximity to the dining room, which features cupboards with carved faience dinner sets. The center of the bedroom is occupied by a huge double bed, while the office located behind the cabinet is equipped with a desk - the workplace for the master of the house. The modern, yet appropriately styled museum and exhibition complex, boasts rich ethnographic, ethnological and historical collections. The permanent exhibitions also include a collection of sculptures of folk artists and an exhibition presenting means of transport, i.e. court carriages, carriages and landaus from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Additionally, the complex includes a conference room. Very tired travelers can make use of the accommodation (26 places in 10 comfortable and modern rooms).

Near the buildings are orchards, vegetable gardens, flower gardens and cultivated fields. Animals are also raised here. Each object has its own guardian, who eagerly tells stories of the former residents. Rural sets represent the types of rural villages typical of Mazovia. It is a hamlet, wick and a roadside village.

The exhibitions held in the museum vary depending on the season. In different months the interiors of the houses feature presentations of the daily rural activities, connected with the house and the farm: honey collection and centrifugation, collecting and drying herbs, wreaths on the octave of Corpus Christi, Pentecost, baking bread, or cottage cheese production.  Special exhibitions taking place from December to February present Mazovian folk customs, rituals associated with Christmas. Presentations of ornaments and decorations associated with Easter begin on  Palm Sunday and last until the end of May.

Various outdoor events are held at the open-air museum.  A series of 'Sunday in the museum' lasts from 1 May until late September. One can view the exhibitions in the farmsteads, listen to a folk band, look at the demonstrations of traditional crafts and folk crafts (blacksmithing, weaving, pottery, braiding, embroidery and sculpture), ride a horse-drawn carriage or go on horseback. Themed Sunday events are also organized. Harvest takes place on the first Sunday of August. The event features a demonstration of the various stages of processing traditional crops: mowing with a scythe, sickle pick-up, binding sheaves, transport to the barn, threshing (threshing with flails and flue). There is also a bread fair and folk performances from Poland and other countries.The tombstone of Wojciech Kryski in the church in Drobin

A separate part of the museum features the buildings where the movie 'With Fire and Sword' was shot.  

On the way back we can use a site prepared for a bonfire, but one should rather go to the inn aptly named Pohulanka. We have a choice of żurek (a soup made of fermented rye flour) and a mushroom soup, a variety of dumplings and an impressive size of a slice of bread with lard. The wonderful, very tasty bread can also be taken home. The same building as the inn houses a gift shop with folk art products.

Upon return from the museum one can also visit Sierpc itself. One can find interesting churches here: a late Gothic Benedictine church, a Gothic parish church and the church  of St. Spirit. A trip to Bieżuń or Sierpc can be combined with a stay at the lake. If we go towards Rypin from Sierpc the lake is just a few kilometers away. The route towards Bydgoszcz will also take us to the lake.
 
Drobin - a town passed by on the way to Warsaw - boasts a parish church with beautiful tombs of the Kryski family, probably made by the Italian sculptor Santi Gucci.

Practical information:

Warszawa – Bieżuń – Sierpc – Drobin: 150 km. The total distance is 300 km.
Sightseeing Bieżuń – 1,5 hours, Sierpc – 1 hour, the open-air museum – 2 hours, Drobin – 1 hour.

Accommodation:

Delfin Hotel, ul. Sucharskiego 2, Sierpc, phone (24) 275 74 72

Conference and Recreational Center (Mazovian Village Museum), Sierpc, ul. G. Narutowicza 64, phone (24) 275 28 83, www.mwmskansen.pl

Maxim Bar, Borkowo Kościelne, gm. Sierpc, ul. Warszawska 1, phone (24) 275 63 95

U Wojciecha Motel, Goleszyn, gm. Sierpc, ul. Sierpecka 3, phone (24) 276 11 28

'Kasztelan' Inn, Białasy 55, gm. Szczutowo, by the voivodeship road no. 560, phone (24) 275 61 63, www.zajazdkasztelan.pl

Oaza J. M. Obczyńscy Inn, gm. Szczutowo, Całownia 10 B, by the state road no. 10, phone (24) 274 14 70, 602 106 070, www.zajazd-sierpc.pl

Mini-Relax Recreational Center, W. Gajowniczek, ul. Modrzewiowa 1, Słupia, gm. Szczutowo, phone 605 050 975

Restaurants:

Przystań restaurant, Bieżuń, ul. Mławska 11, phone (23) 657 80 12

Pohulanka Inn, Sierpc, ul. G. Narutowicza 64 (Mazovian Village Museum), phone (24) 275 28 83 ext. 42, www.mwmskansen.pl

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