Little more than an intersection in the road, the village itself has been designated as a national park. The bucolic setting, home to several restored Polish houses set on exquisite expanses of rolling hills, makes this a fashionable weekend getaway for residents of Istanbul or foreigners with a bit of spare time.

The origins of Polonezköy go back to the mid-19th century, when the Polish exile Adam Czartoriski lobbied Sultan Abdülmecid for the creation of a colony for Polish refugees, many of whom were fleeing from the invading Russians. The sultan granted these exiles permission to build a village in a forested area on the outskirts of Istanbul. The original settlement -- called Adampol after Czartoriski -- had only 12 residents. Today, the settlement remains ethnically Polish.

The distinctive character of the town has attracted some foreigners with impressive credentials: Franz Liszt, Gustave Flaubert, and Lech Walesa all slept here, and even Pope John Paul II stopped in for a visit in 1994.

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