Considered a place of wonders and revelations, the Holy Mount of Grabarka is sometimes referred to as the Orthodox Christian’s Czestochowa. The title is not unwarranted, for the Holy Mount houses the most important Orthodox sanctuary in Poland, which is at the same time one of the most sublime religious spots in the region. Set picturesquely in the midst of a deep forest, the Grabarka Convent has a very humble rural appeal, and is strikingly unlike pompous Polish Catholic churches. This is at least partially why hundreds of thousands of tourist and pilgrims flock here every year, hungry for religious revelation and the healing powers of the mountain.
The Holy Mount of Grabarka is considered the single most significant place for the Polish Orthodox Church. The site has been considered sacred for more than 700 years, mainly due to two legendary events in the Grabarka area. The most important monument on the mountain is undoubtedly the Grabarka Convent. Built in the 18th century to commemorate the sudden end of a cholera plague, the small wooden church managed to withstand the test of time, becoming the most important place for the local Orthodox community. Unfortunately, in 1991 the chapel was set on fire and was almost completely destroyed. Recently the convent has been meticulously restored following the original design.
The Holy Mount of Grabarka is situated in the eastern part of Poland, in the Podlaskie Voivodship, 10 km away from the town of Siematycze. Enclosed by the Bug and Narew rivers, Grabarka is hidden in deep woodland, next to a small, miraculous stream. The areas surrounding the Holy Mount are hilly and almost absent of human presence, which certainly adds to atmosphere of mystery that engulfs the place. If you don't have your own means of transportation, the most convenient way to reach Grabarka is to use the bus that leaves from Siematycze about three times a day. Alternatively, you catch take a train from Bialystok to the village of Sycze, and from there walk 1 km through the forest until you arrive at the mountain.
The first mention of Grabarka dates back to the 13th century, when a Tartar invasion caused the precious icon of Spas Izbawnik (the local version of Jesus Christ) to be taken from the nearby church of Mielnik and hidden in the forests of Grabarka to prevent its theft or destruction. Though the painting was never returned to Mielnik, the legend of Spas and Grabarka grew stronger from that date on. The mountain became the place of pilgrimages and the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.