Kamieniec Podolski

“On the highest part of the hill, there is a rectangular square. In the middle, there are the remains of a burnt city hall, including a devastated tower. The sides of the city hall are surrounded by merchant stands, as well as two and three floor tenement houses. On lower floors, there are shops, patisseries, a modest bookstore and a few bigger wine stores. From this place, the streets spread out like light beams. At either end, there are vaulted gateways and the remains of an old stronghold. That is the whole town. Taking into account that the streets are rather narrow, there are no green areas and that the road is in poor condition; one might think that the place is awful. But it is not true, though! For some reason you feel here at home. You know very well those partly demolished grey walls with some old bullets inside them. You know these walls covered with bushes which sing the eternal grumbling song; and those turrets of numerous churches, which proudly stick above the tenants’ roofs, are familiar to you; just as the sound of bells which falls into a reverie. There is something in the air that fascinates and relaxes” – this is an excerpt from Kolberg’s material related to Podolia.

In the 19th century the stories about a treasure hidden somewhere in the surroundings of Kamieniec were still alive. In the manuscript from this area, Kolberg wrote: “Next to Satanów there is a mountain with dungeons and caves. Legend has it that in the past some people abandoned there a treasure and never returned. They left a big stone with the inscription saying that one day they will come back for the treasure. Other people tried to steal it, but there were some forces guarding the treasure. One man was threatened to have his head cut off if did not leave; another came back with twisted limbs, and another became mute”.

Kolberg collected here an account of a custom: “on St. Andrew’s Day, girls play next to the fence. Since some beams are usually missing, girls pass through the holes saying either ‘bachelor’ or ‘widower’ each time they are changing sides. The last word describes their destiny”; “They take a dog and do not feed it for two days. In the meantime they prepare special cakes from flower and water; one cake for each peasant. Next, all cakes are put on the floor. The peasant whose cake is first eaten will be the first to get marry”.