Podlaskie - the last borderlands
The Podlaskie Voivodeship is a region of multicultural and multi-ethnic specificity. In terms of ethnicity it, undoubtedly, is the most diverse of all 16 regions. The Belarusians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Russians, Tatars, Jews, Roma live here.
The Podlaskie Voivodeship is famous for its unspoiled nature. On its area there are: Suwałki Lakeland, Biebrza Marshes, Narw Valley, Białowieża Forest and Podlaski Przełom Bugu. But the wealth of the region is also its inhabitants. Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians, Tatars, Catholics, Orthodox, Old Believers, and Lutherans derived from the Polish Reformation have been living here together for generations. Above the wooden houses one can see harmonious multitude of crosses on churches, orthodox domes and mosques crescents. This mix of nationalities and religions only happens on the borderland, which Podlaskie was for centuries.
Old Believers, Russian immigrants who did not accept the reforms in the Orthodox Church, founded the Suwalskie villages of Gabowe Grady and Wodziłki. The tourists can admire the temples - molenas, and take a bath in the Ruthenian variety of a sauna called bajnia. Between Puńsk and Sejny, there is the Mała Litwa (Little Lithuania). Lithuanians are living here since the thirteenth century, when they came to colonize the royal forests.
Some Tatar families (invited by Jan III Sobieski) still live in Bohoniki and Kruszyniany, but in the holiday period they are coming here from all-over Poland. The mosque imam celebrates worship, the cemeteries (mizars) are visited, and in the period of the Kurban Bajram feast a ritual sacrifice of animals is made.
Although in the Podlaskie region there are no Jews, still there are the remaining traces of their former residence: the synagogue, mikvah, butchery and the mezuzach prints in frames of many of the buildings. To find them it is best to go to Tykocin Krynki or Sejny, where the memory of Jews (but also Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian and gypsy) is being preserved by people from the foundation “Pogranicze” (Borderland).
Thanks to the right infrastructure and natural advantages, this region is becoming more and more competitive as it comes to conferences and incentive events. Cultural diversity causes that everyone will find something for them.