Ages ago, the direction and time were set by the towers. The wanderer, seeing them in the distance, gained strength until the last stage of the march. The voice of the bells informed about the time of the day, called for prayers, warned about the danger or announced a joyful event. The guards watching the towers noticed the approaching danger and called on the defenders to climb the walls. Panoramas of cities from old codes and old prints seem to be dominated by towers climbing upwards. Church towers, town hall towers, castle towers, towers and gates in the city walls…

In modern times clocks appeared on towers, time was measured more and more accurately. A glance and a late bourgeoisie speeded up the step to the cantor, house or town hall. If the clock could not be seen, it was chased by the sound of the curtains signalling quarters and hours. Faster! After all, a hard-working and fearful man should not be late. But whether it’s holiday or weekend, guests wander slowly through the streets and the marketplace. Their town hall clock no longer chases. They look for a café or a souvenir shop, forgetting that centuries ago, on the day of the fair, the market was full of hustle and bustle.

Each city is a peculiar book. Bystrzyca Kłodzka, the third largest city in the Kłodzko region, can be read in two ways. You can approach it very traditionally, using the history of the city or a guide. Various events from the history of the city appear before our eyes, significant figures will cease to be anonymous, they will come alive at least for a short time. A wave of dates and facts will flow, which will usually leave the heads of visitors just around the corners of the city. This is because they have a new target in front of them, and the guide has already marked the next portion of new dates and names with the bookmark.

You can also read the city in a different way. Identify them without a precise plan, crossing the streets, going down the streets, sitting on benches and walls. The time will come to organize the sensations and read the book a little later. The impressions will become permanent and last longer. Maybe we can find our own guiding thread for such a journey.I have been familiar with Bystrzyca for many years, the last way to read it was the symbolism of the towers.

Beautifully renovated: church, town hall, Kłodzko Tower, Knight Tower and Water Gate definitely stand out in the foreground of contemplating the town. Between them there has been a life in the town for centuries, not only free from problems and worries, but also not devoid of joy and human happiness. I have arranged the photos from the last few months according to a simple division: sacred and profane, churches and saints, cemeteries and roadside shrines, town hall and public buildings (such as schools, hospitals and others).

Many of these places are readable chapters from the city-book. After all, every city is a historic palimpsest. It has been created for centuries, and for centuries it has been collecting the baggage of the past. To see it, to decipher it, to understand it, is an intriguing task. It is no different with Bystrzyca. Just walk along a few streets to see its rich heritage, but also the efforts of its inhabitants to protect and understand it. However, Bystrzyca is not a historical open-air museum, but a living city with its problems and challenges. Photos also document them.

This is yet another photo book that I have prepared recently. The photographs were taken in 2017 and 2018. I made them in various techniques, some with the help of a drone. This is an original choice, it does not claim to be the case until the topic is exhausted. Surely the next trips will bring new photographs, and with them new faces of the city.

Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, City of five towers, Wrocław 2018.