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How to Book a Hotel in Białowieża Forest
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Hotels of Białowieża Forest
A hotel in Białowieża Forest is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Białowieża Forest hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Białowieża Forest are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Białowieża Forest hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Białowieża Forest hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Białowieża Forest have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Białowieża Forest
An upscale full service hotel facility in Białowieża Forest that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Białowieża Forest hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Białowieża Forest
Full service Białowieża Forest hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Białowieża Forest
Boutique hotels of Białowieża Forest are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Białowieża Forest boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Białowieża Forest may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Białowieża Forest
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Białowieża Forest travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Białowieża Forest focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Białowieża Forest
Small to medium-sized Białowieża Forest hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Białowieża Forest traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Białowieża Forest hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Białowieża Forest
A bed and breakfast in Białowieża Forest is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Białowieża Forest bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Białowieża Forest B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Białowieża Forest
Białowieża Forest hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Białowieża Forest hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Białowieża Forest
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Białowieża Forest hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Białowieża Forest lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Białowieża Forest
Białowieża Forest timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Białowieża Forest often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Białowieża Forest on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Białowieża Forest
A Białowieża Forest motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Białowieża Forest for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Białowieża Forest motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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Hrodna and Brest Voblasts, Belarus
Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland
/ 52.75222; 23.87917 / 52.75222; 23.87917
3,085.8 km (1,191.4 sq mi)
11 August 1932
Ministries of the Environment of Belarus and Poland
UNESCO World Heritage SiteBiałowieża Forest, Belarus, Poland
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
European bison in its natural habitat
/ 52.667; 23.8
1979 (3rd Session)
Location in Europe
Białowieża Forest (Belarusian: Белавежская пушча, Biełaviežskaja Pušča; Polish: Puszcza BiałowieskaPolish pronunciation: [ˈpuʂt͡ʂa ˌbʲawɔˈvʲɛska] ( listen); Russian: Беловежская пуща, Belovezhskaya Pushcha) is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. The forest is home to 800 European bison, Europe's heaviest land animal. UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) designated the Polish Biosphere Reserve Białowieża in 1976 and the Belarusian Biosphere Reserve Belovezhskaya Puschcha in 1993. In 2015, the Belarusian Biosphere Reserve occupied the area of 216,200 ha (2,162 km; 835 sq mi), subdivided into transition, buffer and core zones. The forest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an EU Natura 2000 Special Area of Conservation. The World Heritage Committee by its decision of June 2014 approved the extension of the UNESCO World Heritage site “Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Białowieża Forest, Belarus, Poland”, which became “Białowieża Forest, Belarus, Poland”. It straddles the border between Poland (Podlaskie Voivodeship) and Belarus (Brest and Grodno voblasts), and is 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of Brest, Belarus and 62 kilometres (39 miles) southeast of Białystok, Poland. The Białowieża Forest World Heritage site covers a total area of 141,885 ha (1,418.85 km; 547.82 sq mi). Since the border between the two countries runs through the forest, there is a border crossing available for hikers and cyclists.
Białowieża Forest: Name
The Belarusian name is Biełaviežskaja pušča (Белавежская пушча), although both the Belarusian authorities and UNESCO use the original Russian name Belovezhskaya pushcha (Беловежская пуща) from before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Białowieża Forest: Nature protection
Białowieża Forest: Białowieża National Park, Poland
Main article: Białowieża National Park
Białowieża National Park Visitor Centre
On the Polish side, part of the Białowieża Forest is protected as the Białowieża National Park (Polish: Białowieski Park Narodowy), with an area of about 105 km (41 sq mi). There is also the Białowieża Glade (Polish: Polana Białowieska), with a complex of buildings once owned by the tsars of Russia during the Partitions of Poland. At present, a hotel and restaurant with a car park is located there. Guided tours into the strictly protected areas of the park can be arranged on foot, bike or by horse-drawn carriage. Approximately 120,000–150,000 tourists visit the Polish part of the forest annually (about 10,000 of them are from other countries). Among the attractions are birdwatching with local ornithologists, the chance to observe rare birds, pygmy owl observations, watching bison in their natural environment, and sledge as well as carriage rides, with a bonfire. Expert nature guides can also be found in the nearby urban centres. Tours are possible all year round. The popular village of Białowieża lies within the forest. Białowieża means "the white tower" in Old Polish.
Białowieża Forest: Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, Belarus
Main article: Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park
In 2009, the Ecological Education Centre was built in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park.
On the Belarusian side, the forest is protected as the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park with an area of 1,771 km (684 sq mi). The core, strictly protected, area covers 157 km (61 sq mi), the buffer zone 714 km (276 sq mi), and the transition zone 900 km (350 sq mi); the National Park and World Heritage Site comprises 876 km (338 sq mi). The Belovezhskaya pushcha headquarters at Kamyanyuki include laboratory facilities and a zoo where European bison (reintroduced into the park in 1929), konik (a semi-wild horse), wild boar, Eurasian elk and other indigenous animals may be viewed in enclosures of their natural habitat. A new attraction there is a New Year's museum with Ded Moroz (the East Slavic counterpart of Father Christmas).
Białowieża Forest: History
The entire area of northeastern Europe was originally covered by ancient woodland similar to that of the Białowieża Forest. Until about the 14th century, travel through the woodland was limited to river routes; roads and bridges appeared much later. Limited hunting rights were granted throughout the forest in the 14th century. In the 15th century the forest became a property of king Władysław II Jagiełło. A wooden manor in Białowieża became his refuge during a plague pandemic in 1426. The first recorded piece of legislation on the protection of the forest dates to 1538, when a document issued by Sigismund I instituted the death penalty for poaching a bison. The King also built a new wooden hunting manor in a village of Białowieża, which became the namesake for the whole complex. Since Białowieża means the "white tower", the corresponding Puszcza Białowieska translates as the "forest of the white tower". The Tower of Kamyenyets on the Belarusian side, built of red brick, is also referred to as the White Tower (Belaya Vezha) even though it was never white, perhaps taking the name from the pushcha.
The forest was declared a hunting reserve in 1541 to protect bison. In 1557, the forest charter was issued, under which a special board was established to examine forest usage. In 1639, King Vladislaus IV issued the "Białowieża royal forest decree" (Ordynacja Puszczy J.K. Mości leśnictwa Białowieskiego). The document freed all peasants living in the forest in exchange for their service as osocznicy, or royal foresters. They were also freed of taxes in exchange for taking care of the forest. The forest was divided onto 12 triangular areas (straże) with a centre in Białowieża.
Part of primaeval forest with dead 450-year-old oak in Białowieża National Park, Poland
Until the reign of King John II Casimir, the forest was mostly unpopulated. However, in the late 17th century, several small villages were established for development of local iron-ore deposits and tar production. The villages were populated with settlers from Masovia and Podlaskie and many of them still exist.
After the Partitions of Poland, Tsar Paul I turned all the foresters into serfs and handed them over to various Russian aristocrats and generals along with the parts of forest where they lived. Also, a large number of hunters were able to enter the forest, as all protection was abolished. Following this, the number of bison fell from more than 500 to fewer than 200 in 15 years. However, in 1801, Tsar Alexander I reintroduced the reserve and hired a small number of peasants to protect the animals, and by the 1830s there were 700 bison. However, most of the foresters (500 out of 502) took part in the November Uprising of 1830–31, and their posts were abolished, leading to a breakdown of protection.
Tsar Alexander II visited the forest in 1860 and decided to re-establish the protection of bison. Following his orders, locals killed all predators: wolves, bears and lynx. Between 1888 and 1917, the Russian tsars owned all of primaeval forest, which became the royal hunting reserve. The tsars sent bison as gifts to various European capitals, while at the same time populating the forest with deer, elk and other animals imported from around the empire. The last major tsarist hunt took place in 1912.
Białowieża Forest: 20th century wartime damages and restoration
Bison hiding in Białowieża Forest
During World War I the forest suffered heavy losses. The German army seized the area in August 1915 and started to hunt the animals. During three years of German occupation, 200 kilometres (124 miles) of railway tracks were laid in the forest to support the local industry. Three lumber mills were built, in Hajnówka, Białowieża and Gródek. Up to 25 September 1915, at least 200 bison were killed, and an order was issued forbidding hunting in the reserve. However, German soldiers, poachers and Soviet marauders continued the slaughter until February 1919 when the area was captured by the Polish army. The last bison had been killed just a month earlier. Thousands of deer and wild boar had also been shot.
After the Polish–Soviet War in 1921, the core of the forest was declared a National Reserve. In 1923, Professor Józef Paczoski, a pioneer of the science of phytosociology, became a scientific manager of the forest reserves in the Białowieża Forest. He carried out detailed studies of the structure of forest vegetation there.
In 1923 it was known that only 54 bison survived in zoos all around the world, none of them in Poland. In 1929, a small herd of four was bought by the Polish state from various zoos and from the Western Caucasus (where the bison was to become extinct just a few years; these animals were of the slightly different Caucasian subspecies (Bison bonasus caucasicus). Most of the forest was declared a national park in 1932.
The reintroduction proved successful, and in 1939 there were 16 bison in Białowieża National Park. Two of them, from the zoo in Pszczyna, were descendants of a pair from the forest given to the Duke of Pszczyna by Tsar Alexander II in 1865.
Royal Oaks Trail, Białowieża Forest
In 1939 the local inhabitants of Polish ethnicity were deported to remote areas of the Soviet Union and replaced by Soviet forest workers. In 1941 the forest was occupied by Germans and the Russian Soviet inhabitants were also expelled. Hermann Göring planned to create the largest hunting reserve in the world there. After July 1941 the forest became a refuge for both Polish and Soviet partisans and Nazi authorities organised mass executions. A few graves of people who were killed by the Gestapo can still be seen in the forest. In July 1944 the area was liberated by the Red Army. Withdrawing Wehrmacht troops demolished the historic Białowieża hunting manor.
After the war, part of the forest was divided between Poland and the Belarusian SSR of the Soviet Union. The Soviet part was put under public administration while Poland reopened the Białowieża National Park in 1947.
Belovezhskaya Pushcha coat of arms on Pre-Stamped Envelope of the Belarus, 2009: 600th Anniversary of Belovezhskaya Pushcha reserve status
Belovezhskaya Pushcha was protected under Decision No. 657 of the Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet Union, 9 October 1944; Order No. 2252-P of the USSR Council of Ministers, 9 August 1957; and Decree No. 352 of the Byelorussian SSR Council of Ministers, 16 September 1991.
In 1991, the Belavezha Accords, the decision to dissolve the Soviet Union, were signed at a meeting in the Belarusian part of the reserve by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
Białowieża Forest: Named oaks
The King of Nieznanowo oak
Emperor of the South oak
Patriarch Oak, one of the oldest oaks in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park
The forest contains a number of large, ancient pedunculate oaks (Quercus robur), some of which are individually named. Trunk circumferences are measured at breast height, 130 cm (51 in) above the ground.
Great Mamamuszi. Circumference 690 cm (270 in) (2005), height 34 m (112 ft). One of the thickest oaks in the forest, with a beautiful column-like trunk. The tree's name comes from Molière's The Bourgeois Gentleman, in which the main protagonist (Mr Jourdain) was appointed the Mamamouchi by a Turkish ambassador. Since 1989 the tree's circumference grew by 10 cm (3.9 in). Of all the oaks in Białowieża Forest with a circumference above 600 cm (240 in), it is in the best condition.
The King of Nieznanowo. Circumference 620 cm (240 in), height 38 m (125 ft). This tree has one of the most columnar trunks among the oaks in Białowieża Forest, interestingly set in the ground. The first branches arise at the height of 18 m. It has been gradually dying since 1998. As of 2005, only two small branches still have leaves. Since the mid-1960s its trunk circumference has grown by about 45 cm (18 in).
Emperor of the South. Circumference 610 cm (240 in), height 40 m (130 ft). The tree shows no clear signs of dying.
Emperor of the North. Circumference 605 cm (238 in), height 37 m (121 ft). The tree has a very regular trunk and shows no clear signs of dying.
Southern Cross. Circumference 630 cm (250 in), height 36 m (118 ft). At the base of the trunk it has a considerable lesion in the bark on the eastern side. From the mid-1960s its circumference has grown by 65 cm (26 in). The name comes from the shape of its crown, whose main branches evoke a cross (see photo of the crown).
The Guardian of Zwierzyniec. Circumference 658 cm (259 in), height 37 m (121 ft). This is one of the thickest oaks in the forest. The tree is largely bent down westwards, which most probably has contributed to the large circumference of the trunk at its base. All the branches are live, indicating that the tree is in good condition.
Barrel Oak. Circumference 740 cm (290 in), height over 30 m (98 ft). This tree is named for its barrel-shaped trunk, and is the oak which reaches the greatest trunk circumference among the Białowieża oaks. The tree is dead and largely devoid of bark, and is estimated to be around 450 years old.
Dominator Oak. Circumference 680 cm (270 in), height over 36 m (118 ft). One of the thickest oaks of the Białowieża, the tree has been dead since 1992 and its trunk is now largely devoid of bark. For many years it dominated the Białowieża Forest as far as size is concerned. Its age is estimated at 450 years.
The Jagiełło Oak. Circumference (when growing) 550 cm (220 in), height 39 m (128 ft). It blew down in 1974, but is probably the most famous of the trees in the forest. It is said that King Władysław II Jagiełło rested beneath it before the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, although in fact the tree is believed to have been only 450 years old when it blew down.
Tsar Oak (Polish) (Polish: Dąb Car) of Poland. Circumference 640 cm (250 in), height 41 m (135 ft). The tree's volume has been estimated at 75 m (2,600 cu ft). It died in 1984, and for over 20 years it has been standing dead on the edge of the valley of Leśna Prawa river. Today the trunk is totally devoid of bark and some of the branches have broken off and lie at the base of the trunk.
Patriarch Oak (Russian: Патриарх-Дуб). One of the oldest oaks in the Belarusian National Park, standing 31 m (102 ft) tall, having a diameter in excess of 2 m (6.6 ft), and being over 550 years of age. It stands 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) from the estate of Ded Moroz.
Białowieża Forest: Logging
Some 84% of the 60,000 hectares (150,000 acres) of Polish forest is outside the national park; almost half of all the wood in the forest is dead - 10 times more than in managed forests - with half the 12,000 species depend on decaying logs, including the near-threatened beetle Cucujus cinnaberinus; traditional forest management would remove the dead wood, as a fire risk. In 2011, Zdzisław Szkiruć, director of the Białowieża National Park, told British newspaper The Guardian that cutting and replanting allows for re-establishment of the forest in 50 years, rather than the 300–400 years that nature would require; environmentalist Janusz Korbel argued that the unique nature of the primeval forest, however, demands a lighter hand of management. Andrzej Kraszewski, Poland's Environment Minister from February 2010 to November 2011, sought to increase protection over the whole forest, starting with a more modest 12,000–14,000-hectare (30,000–35,000-acre) expansion, against opposition from the local community and the Forestry Service.
Polish environmentalists say that logging is threatening the flora and fauna in the forest, including species of rare birds, such as the white-backed woodpecker, who lost 30% of their population in forestry-managed areas in the 1990s and 2000s. Poland's state forestry board claims the logging is for protection and for ecological reasons, protecting against the European spruce bark beetle. From 2012, the amount of wood that can be extracted by foresters annually was reduced from about 120,000 m (4,200,000 cu ft) to just 48,500 m (1,700,000 cu ft) and most of it is sold locally, mainly as firewood.
On 25 March 2016, Jan Szyszko, Poland's Environment Minister, former forester and forestry academic, announced that he would approve a tripling of logging in the forest, from the 2012–21 limit of 63,000 m (2,200,000 cu ft) - almost exhausted at the time - to 188,000 m (6,600,000 cu ft), again described as being necessary to combat an infestation of the bark beetle. Robert Cyglicki, head of Greenpeace Polska, however, argued that logging to fight the bark beetle would "bring more damage than benefits", gathering more than 120,000 signatures to petition Prime Minister Beata Szydło to reverse Szyszko's move. Greenpeace also said the logging could trigger the EU to launch punitive procedures against Poland for violating its Natura 2000 programme, though Szyszko claims that the logging plans would not apply to strictly protected areas, and claims that, rather than being 8,000 years old, as scientists claim, parts of the forest had been created by an "enterprising hand of man" on lands that centuries ago included fields of wheat and millet.
Białowieża Forest: Cultural references
The forest is the subject of a Russian ballad Belovezhskaya Pushcha, composed in 1975 by Aleksandra Pakhmutova, with lyrics by Nikolai Dobronravov, performed by Belarusian folk band Pesniary.
The forest is mentioned throughout Alan Weisman's book The World Without Us (2007), which investigates places that have been abandoned or left alone and imagines what they would be like if Earth's human population suddenly disappeared.
The forest is also featured as the backdrop for the 2008 World War II film Defiance,, a true story about more than 1,000 people who retreated to the forest to hide from the Nazis.
Jurgis Rudkus, the Lithuanian protagonist of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, is said to have been born to a family of peasants in "that part of Lithuania known as Brelovicz" which could be interpreted as the Białowieża area.
British historian Simon Schama dedicates several chapters of his book Landscape and Memory (1995) to the Białowieża Forest.
Białowieża Forest: See also
Tourism in Poland
List of national parks of Belarus
List of national parks of Poland
List of old-growth forests
Perućica, a primeval forest in Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Virgin Komi Forests, the largest forest in Europe
Western Caucasus, the largest bison (wisent) habitat
Białowieża Forest: References
UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "UNESCO World Heritage Centre – Decision – 38COM 8B.12". unesco.org. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
Baczynska, Gabriela (28 September 2008). "Climate change clouds fate of ancient Polish woods". Reuters. Retrieved 28 September 2008.
"Biosphere Reserve Information – BIALOWIEZA". Retrieved 2015-05-23.
"Biosphere Reserve Information – BELOVEZHSKAYA PUSCHCHA". Retrieved 2015-05-23.
The structure of the Biosphere Reserve Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
"21 World Heritage Sites you have probably never heard of". The Daily Telegraph.
"Decision 38 COM 8B.12 of the World Heritage Committee" (PDF). whc.unesco.org.
"Białowieża Forest, Belarus, Poland". UNESCO/WHC website. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
"Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Białowieża Forest" at the UNESCO official webpage. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park – Official Website of the Republic of Belarus.
Belovezhskaya pushcha – Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.