Belltower and shrines, Museum of Mountaineers and Brigands

A belltower existed in almost every village, especially if there was no church, to serve as its signalling equipment and the village guard. Only well-respected farmers could ring the bell and only to remind the inhabitants about prayers, to alarm them when unknown people, officials, tax collectors or army recruiters were approaching the village, in case of fire, in connection with an important event such as someone’s death or to protect the village from a thunderstorm. The sound of a small bell was believed to disturb the ‘płanetnik’ demons in charge of the clouds, usually recognizable by the fact that water kept pouring from some part of their clothes, for example from the hat or belt. A płanetnik should be able to forecast the weather and protect the crops from hail. He could also protect a homestead but a belltower was necessary to protect all homesteads in the village. According to legends, brigands were religious and generous. After a successful attack or having narrowly avoided death, they built shrines or even churches. Traces of their activity can be found in various places such as mountain caves, on the Średniak Glade in Gorce where they were dancing for so long that their feet created a brigands’ yard and also on the way from Rabka to Stare Wierchy (968 m above sea level) where brigands used to ambush the travellers and drink the loot away in an inn. The chance for looting was high because the trade route called the King’s Road passed through the area.


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