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Zalipie is a village in southeastern Poland, 68 km east of the regional capital Kraków, known for its wonderfully painted houses.

The tradition of decorating both the exterior and the interior of houses originated at the end of the 19th century when old-fashioned furnaces were replaced with new furnaces with chimneys. Early furnaces had little more than a hole in the ceiling for smoke to escape, which being inadequate led to blackening of the walls by soot. In order to cover the unsightly walls the women of the houses began painting over the spots of soot with whitewash. Later, these whitewashed walls became backdrops for more immaculate designs. Using flower compositions, the women put special emphasis on decorating the wide stoves. They also painted flower garlands under pictures and around windows and doors. Soon they began to paint the exterior of their homes and pretty much anything unmovable – chicken coups, bridges, bins, wells and dog kernels.

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© Amusing Planet, 2014.


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