Białystok, with a population of almost 300 000, is a city located in north-eastern Poland, serving the function of the capital of Podlaskie province. It is the administrative, economic, and academic centre of the region which, due to its exceptional environmental assets, has been termed the Green Lungs of Poland. The location in the environmentally clean region, full of tourist attractions, as well as the rich infrastructure of Białystok, makes the city and surrounding area a great place for living, recreation and development of tourism.
Białystok is the ideal place for this project because it has evolved as a place which is the melting pot of different nations, religions, cultures, customs and traditions. It has become an example of the integration of ethnic and religious groups, a meeting place for Poles, Belorussians, Jews, Lithuanians, Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanies, Muslims and Tatars. The location of Białystok, in the proximity of borders with Belarus, Lithuania and Russia, as well as the convenient transportation links, create excellent conditions for developing cultural contacts with the countries of Eastern and Western Europe.
The multi-ethnicity of the city was the reason for the Białystok-born Ludwik Zamenhof to start his work on the universal language of Esperanto. In 2009, in celebration of Zamenhof’s 150th birthday, the 94th World Congress of Esperanto took place for the first time in Białystok. This project fits into the idea of Esperanto, and tries to keep the spirit of multi-cultural communication through art.
This project is very important in this region, in that it will help develop an international dialog, not only about art. Our hope is that the local citizens get to learn about other nations and cultures, and the visiting artists can get a deeper understanding of and appreciation for Polish culture and traditions. Białystok is not very popular for tourists from abroad, and therefore it is possible to meet everyday Polish citizens, get to know the culture and traditions easier, and just feel more at home (Poles are known for their hospitality).