Częstochowa, Poland.

Częstochowa is probably the saddest city I’ve visited in Europe thus far, Kiev taking second place for similar reasons. Picture this; rundown roads with potholes as big as loveseats, decrepit boarded up buildings and unkempt apartment complexes with sad people living inside. In the middle of this battered town, perched on a hill top, looking “down” on the city, lays the famous Pauline monastery of Jasna Góra, which is the home of the Black Madonna painting. Behind the gates the buildings are palaces, dripping in gold leaf, frescoes, moldings upon molding, each more ornate than the next. Millions of dollars are invested in the monastery, mostly donated by church goers, a gesture to ensure them a ticket to a better afterlife. What about life right now? How can there be so much desperation just outside it’s gates and nothing is done about it? The whole experience was absolutely shocking to me, reminding me of medieval novels with rich Kings and queens dismaying the poor.          

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