Chochołów

Called the pearl of Podhale, one of the 3 best preserved wooden villages on our TatraVelo El Clásico (with Osturňa and Vlkolinec /on an extra loop/ in Slovakia). 109 wooden houses are protected, most of them were built more than 100 years ago.

As wood was the most accessible material, local people used it to build their houses. Every year, before special religious occasions (like Easter or Corpus Christi), the houses are washed (with water and soap). As you can see, the houses are situated along one main road, in a line, which is typical for villages in Podhale and is an opposite of what you can find in some other regions where the villages would grow in a form of a circle and not a line.

Wooden houses were nothing special in Poland until 1950-ies, post-war time, especially in poor mountain regions where there was no industry; people lived (many times actually just survived) from what they grew on their small fields, some had sheep, many would work in forest. Here, as in many villages of Podhale almost everyone has a relative living in the USA. Many emigrated, escaping from the poverty; in Chicago you can find Podhale’s people organisation and even folk groups.

Unfortunately, the 17th century church didn’t survive until our times. At least, it was replaced by a beautiful neo-Gothic church - this actually makes us understand why so few wooden villages or churches survived; people desired solid, safer, more resistant and comfy houses or churches instead of small, old, wooden and also, (what seemed to them) poor ones. Chochołów survived thanks to the special protection zone which was given in the 1950-ies. From that time on, every change or work needs to be accepted by the protection office. For this reason, you will see some empty houses, too.

If not in rush, take a minute to locate house nº 24 - it was built from ONE TREE. So you can imagine how big the tree was :-)

Find it on Day 1/5: TatraVelo Goulash.