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Interesting to know
The history of Białystok is several centuries old. Its specific character has been shaped in an atmosphere within which many nationalities, religions, cultures, customs and traditions have been able to co-exist.

The city has always been the home of Poles, Belarusians, Jews, Lithuanians, Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanies, Muslims and Tatars. It is this melting pot character of the place that was one of the reasons for Ludwik Zamenhof beginning his work on creating the universal world language - Esperanto.

There are several hundred historical buildings in Białystok, 150 of which have been entered into the official register of relics of architecture. Among the most precious monuments of architecture is the Branicki Palace, with the best preserved baroque gardens in the country. There is also the "Dom Koniuszego", or the "House of the Equerry", dating back to 1771, the palace of the Lubomirski family in the Dojlidy park, the town palaces of the factory owners from the beginning of the 20th century, the cathedral buildings of the Holy Mary (composed of the Neo-gothic cathedral, the late Renaissance church being the oldest brick laid building in the city, and a baroque presbytery constructed in 1961), the Masonic lodge, the townhall, the 19th century Orthodox church of St Nicolas the Miracle-worker, the Church of Christ the King and St Roch Church - one of the first modernist churches in the world.

Just outside the city limits one can encounter numerous charming towns and villages, places of the remains of the past Polish, Jewish, Orthodox and Moslem cultures. Among such sites is the town of Choroszcz, with the summer residence of the Branicki family. A few kilometres farther lies Tykocin, with the "second biggest synagogue in the Kingdom" and Knyszyn - once almost a capital of the country and the favourite town of King Sigismund August. Amidst the wild forest of the Knyszyńska Wilderness, barely several kilometres from Białystok, lies the spa of Supraśl with the unique fortified Orthodox church from 1510. A bit farther down is Suraż - supposedly the mysterious hiding place of the treasure of Queen Bona.

Białystok is surrounded by numerous areas of unique natural and historical assets. Among these is the Białowieski National Park the habitat of the European bison. The Park has been in-cluded on the List of World Heritage. Other unique places are the UNESCO approved World Biosphere Preserve of Knyszyńska.

Wilderness Landscape Park, Narwiański National Park - the site of extremely rare species of birds, the Biebrza Valley Marshes - the biggest set of low peatbogs in Central Europe and the biggest national park in Poland, and the Tartar Trail.

The last decade of the 20th century was a time of dynamic development in the city's tourist infrastructure. The hotel, catering and entertainment infrastructure that Białystok presently has to offer is the best in the region and compares favourably with the rest of the country.


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