The small village of Zalipie, Poland leaves a big, bright, and beautiful impression on travelers. Everywhere you look you will see hand-painted floral designs on homes, barns, bridges, wells, and chicken coops. The tradition began a century ago, but only within the last few decades was it transformed into an annual contest to turn the tiny town into a living piece of art, and heal post-WWII blues at the same time.

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100 years ago, locals would touch up their homes for the holidays by painting over soot stains caused by their wood-burning stoves. Often, this would not completely cover up the marks, so people got creative. The practice of painting flowers began informally and blossomed into a town tradition over the years. And the designs spread outside the home to the exterior of buildings and even backyard and community structures.

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The trend continued over the decades, and then a new annual contest was created to bring up the spirits of the local community after WWII. The Malowana Chata (Painted Cottage) competition officially became an event in 1965 and still continues today. The media have improved from cooking fat-based paints to more hardy materials and the villagers have worked hard to preserve as much of the original artwork as they can. Zalipie is only an hour and a half outside of Krakow, so visitors traveling by car can easily enjoy the breathtaking blooms.

Via Mental Floss

Images via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0) (1,2,3), Wikimedia (1,2,3)