see the world

 
Loading...
Click here to expand World Map   World Map
World » Europe » Poland » Table of contents

Poland

Flag of Poland

Table of contents

Things to do and See in Poland

Krakow


Krakow is Poland’s cultural and spiritual centre and the most beautiful city in the country.  The city entered a golden age in the 14th century but lost its capital status to Warsaw in 1596. When Poland was partitioned at the end of the 18th century, Krakow was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the Nazi occupation, it served as headquarters for the General Government, and then was liberated by the Soviet forces in 1945. Today, this city is this most touristy in Poland and is definitely worth a visit as it has so much to offer.

Buy the Krakow card (www.krakowcard.com), available from tourist offices, gives you free travel on public transport and free entry to many of the cities museums. Two day cards will cost 45 zl.

 

Royal Castle of Wawel

For Poles Wawel Castle is a symbol of national strength and patriotism; the ancient home of kings, and the material embodiment of Polish resistance and culture. It was built in the 12th century and it has survived the vicissitudes of time for instance; the castle came within a whisker of being flattened by retreating Nazi’s.  For visitors Wawel is an unforgettable journey through the history of Poland.  Perched on top of a 50m-high rock on the edge of old town, it today is remarkably intact and accessible to only a limited number of visitors each day.

The famous Wawel Hill is typically approached from short and narrow Kanonicza Street. This is one of the most important, oldest and most beautiful streets in Krakow. This streets appearance has remained unchanged for centuries.

When you arrive at the Castle, you’ll have to pick up your tickets at the box office 15 minutes before your reserved tour time. For more information on the Royal Castle of Wawel go to www.krakow-info.com/castle or www.wawel.krakow.pl

 


Kazimierz District


Kazimierz is the district that housed Krakow’s Jews for some 500 years. This area of Krakow used to be its own town. At the outbreak of World War II there was over 70000 Jews living here, this made up 25% of Krakow’s population. Today there are approximately 1000, so this explains to you the extreme way in which Krakow’s Jewish population was hit during the war. 

In the last decade it has been re-discovered, and its Jewish culture gradually reintroduced.  Kazimierz made its way to the big screen, thanks to Steven Spielberg's Oscar-award-winning Schindler's List. The world famous Jewish Culture Festival, organised since the early 1990s has from its inception, focused on the history and tradions of the Jewish people who once lived in the area.

There’s more to the historic Jewish quarter than cemeteries and Synagogues. The four main Synagogues in Kazimierz are the Kupa, Isaac, Wysoka (High), and the Stara Old Synagogue. The western quarter of the district is actually catholic, so if you are visiting for the Jewish history and culture stick to the Eastern side.

In recent years Kazimierz has become the hip and trendy place to go for a drink and something to eat, as there are loads of great bars, clubs and resturants to choice from. For more information on Kazimierz go to www.krakow-info.com/kazimierz

 


The University District

Central Europe’s second oldest university was founded in 1364.  Distinguished students include the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II.  Collegium Maius, ul. Jagiellonska 15 is the oldest college, a magnificent example of Gothic architecture in which 35 globes are on display, one dating from 1510 and featuring the earliest illustration of America, marked “a newly discovered land”. Tours run from (1100-1700), but not on Sundays.

 


The Market Square (Main Square)

The Market Square (Rynek Glowny) was designed in 1257 and its one biggest medieval squares in Europe, at 200 m by 200m and it retains its original architecture and urban planning to this day. In 2005 the Main Square took first place in the first international ranking of "world's greatest squares".

The Main Square and the grid of adjoining streets were laid out in 1257 during the city's reorganization according to the Magdeburg law. It is home off the 14th century Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), which was the first shopping mall in the world. Apart from that, the old town hall tower is located on the Main Market Square in the centre of town this area has hundreds of bars, shops and restaurants to choice from.

Some of Krakow's legends and many historical events are associated with the square. They are reflected in the bugle-call played every hour from the towers of St. Mary's, June's procession of he Lajkonik, the enthronement of the Marksmen's King, and the Nativity Scene competition that takes place every December. In summer you will see loads of concerts, fairs and exhibitions with loads of people enjoying themselves.

 


St. Mary’s Basilica

This gothic church is a symbol of Krakow just equally as the Wawel Castle. It first started as a Romanesque church in 1222 and was gradually redone throughout the centuries. The inside of this is church is amazing, especially with its stained glass windows. It has 204+ steps which in summer you can climb to the top of the tower and from there you have a great view of the city. This is also the tower from which the famous “hejnal” is sounded every hour on the hour to commemorate the legend of the medieval trumpeter who was killed by a Tatar arrow when playing the call in the 13th century.

 


Wieliczka Salt Mine

Located just on the out skirts of the city this Museum is located in a 700-year old mine and its one of the biggest underground mining museums in the world. It’s included on UNESCO’s World list of Cultural and Natural Heritage. For more information on Wieliczka Salt Mine go to www.koplania.pl

 


Nowa Huta

Nowa Huta is located 10km from Krakow and it was built during the communist area, around the steel works in the area. This purpose built area housed over 100,000 people and it has a collection of socialist realist architecture, block like housing complexes, quant tree-lined boulevards, which was built to show the greatness of the socialists. It once had statues and monuments celebrating Marxist-Leninism, but now the memorials celebrate the Solidarity movement that brought the collapse of the socialists in the country.

The Central Square is now named after American President Ronald Reagan, which is a slight change from when it had statues of Lenin in the middle of the square. You can take organized tours to the area in the once famous East German automobile taxi. For more information on Nowa Huta go to www.crazyguides.com

 

 

Aquarium Krakow

This is the most amazing and modern aquarium in all of Poland. Here you will see the only venomous reptile collection in Poland and with sharks and eels this aquarium is something you don't want to miss.

 

 

 

 

 

Warsaw


Warsaw is capital city of Poland, but also Warsaw is the biggest city in the country. Situated in the Mazowieckie province, in east-central Poland, the city spans the Wisla (Vistula River) and all the main tourist sites are on the left bank, while the right bank contains the increasingly fashionable district of Warsaw, called Praga.

During the autumn of 1940, a year after their invasion of Poland, the Nazis created a ghetto for the Jews of Warsaw in Muranow, in the north-west of the city.  A stretch of the ghetto wall can be found on Sienna Street and the Nozyk Synagogue, which stood nearby on the south-eastern fringe of the ghetto, is the only Synagogue to have survived the war. Unfortunately, due to the war 85% of Warsaw was destroyed during the war, so today you will see many communist style buildings. The Old Town was finally rewarded in 1980, when the entire complex earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is definitely worth a look. Below is a list of a few places we recommend you visit while you are in Warsaw.

 


Monument to to the Heroes of the Ghetto


This monument dedicated to the courage of the Jewish resistance stands in a square which was once at the heart of the Warsaw ghetto.  Pre-war Warsaw had a Jewish population second only to New York. After the Nazi invasion, some 400,000 Jews were rounded up and forced to stay in the Jewish ghetto. A three-metre-high (ten-foot) wall encircled the area, from the Palace of Culture and Science to the Umschlagplatz monument, corner of ulica Stawki and ulica Dzika. This stark monument, erected in the late 1980s, marks the place from where Jews were dispatched by train to the Treblinka concentration camp, following the Ghetto Uprising of 19 April 1943. The centre of the ghetto is marked by the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, ulica L Zamenhofa, which was erected on a sea of ruins in 1948. Admission is free and for information go to www.jewishinstitute.org.pl 

 


Royal Castle


Serving as the central building of the Polish Commonwealth for many centuries, this castle was rebuilt after it was dynamited by German troops after the Warsaw uprising. The Royal Castle has been rebuilt (1971-78) and is recreated to the original castle's 17th-century architecture and interiors. Admission is 8Zl, but prices are subject to change. For more information the Royal Castle go to www.zamek-krolewski.art.pl 

 


Pawiak Prison

This eerie old prison symbolizes the oppression that has haunted Varsovians over the last two centuries. Originally built in the 1830s, at the order of the ruling Czars, the prison incarcerated many victims of the Nazi reign of terror from 1939-1944, when it served as the largest political prison in Poland. A third of the estimated 100,000 detainees never made it out alive. The Nazis tried to dynamite the evidence of their crimes as they left but Pawiak is back as a museum. Admission is free and defiantly worth a visit.

 


Barbakan

Sixteenth-century fortress, forming part of the medieval fortifications around the city of Warsaw, the Novomiejska Gate used to guard the northern entrance to the city and was fortified by several towers.

 


Old Town Square Market


Rynek Starego Miasta is the true heart of the Old Town, and until the end of the 18th century it was the heart of all. Today, this town square is surrounded by beautiful seventeenth and eighteenth-century merchants' houses. Its lively square is filled with street vendors, cafes, shops, galleries and some of Warsaw's top restaurants.

 

 

Chopin Museum

This was Warsaw's most famous resident and he has been paid tribute by the Chopin Museum, which houses a concert hall and Chopin memorabilia. This is a great opportunity to see some ballet or opera.

 

 

Warsaw Rising Museum

This museum commemorates the definitive event in the city's history when Polish freedom fighters were annihilated by the Nazis in 1944 after battling for an independent Poland.

 

 

Palace of Culture and Science

This 230m monument has dominated the skyline of Warsaw since the end of the Second World War. It's the highest building in the country and it was Stalin's unwanted 'gift' to Poland to remind people that the state was bigger than the individual. After the fall of Communism in 1989 it was turned into a multiplex with a viewing platform on the 30th floor that offers great views.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rest of Poland


Gdańsk

Gdansk is part of what is called in Poland the Tricity (three cities Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot are treated as one agglomeration) is one of the most important cities in history of Poland. Located in the Northern part of the country and close to the beach it’s a popular place in summer for most Polish people wanting to go for a swim in the Baltic.

Outside the city lies Mazury, this is a forest and lake region of the country. It’s famous for being the location of Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest. Ketrzyn (Rastenburg), which is located in the Mazurian Forest and was where members of his High Staff attempted to assassinate him in August 1944. Another popular attraction is Torun, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the banks of the River Wisla (Vistula), which is south of Gdansk.

 


Zakopane


Zakopane for many people is the most beautiful city in Poland. Zakopane is located in Tatras Mountains at the southern border of Poland, just a few hours from Krakow. It has some of Poland’s best skiing and it has throbbing nightlife that can’t be missed. Skiing is cheap and the slopes are close and thrill-seekers have plenty of other activities to choice from, including paragliding and glacier climbing. It isn’t hard to guess why Zakopane is also called "the winter capital of Poland". It attracts over 1.5 million people annually to this area of the country. It’s defiantly worth a look if you are in the area.

 


Poznań


This has been an important city for centuries as it lies between Berlin and Warsaw. Traditionally this has been a very rich city as it was important as a trading centre. Today, it’s a thriving city with a huge student population and is one of the richest in Poland. It is also one of Poland’s major banking and business centers. When you go start your tour around the town centre as there are many bars and restaurants in this area. This is the city’s showcase spot as the Old Market Square dominate the city centre. We recommend you go on a Lech Brewery Tour, as this is the most popular beer in the region.

 


Katowice

Katowice is located in southern Poland and about 60 km west of Krakow. Just south of the city is the Beskidy Mountains, which are home to some of Poland’s best skiing. If you like beer, then take a tour of the Tyskie Brewery or Zywiec Brewery, which both operates three-hour tours and after the tour you can sample one of Poland’s finest lagers.

 


Wroclaw

Located in the southwest of Poland is the city of Wroclaw (Breslau). It has a interesting past as it has been ruled by the Bohemia, the Habsburgs, Prussians and the Germans during World War II. When the war ended the city was a Nazi stronghold ‘Festung Breslau’; the German population was forced to leave and large numbers of displaced Poles from Lwów (now L’viv) in the Ukraine were encouraged to move there. This has created a great culture now in the city as it has an interesting mix of people.

Today the city has 90km (56 miles) of canals and tributaries of the River Oder and there are more than 100 bridges. Some of the tourist attractions include a 15th century Town Hall and Ostrow Tumski (‘Cathedral Island’). There is also a 120m (400ft) by 15m (50ft) tall painting, Panorama of the Battle of Raclawice, remains the city’s best-loved sight; painted in 1894, it celebrates the Russian army’s defeat by Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s people’s militia. Another attraction brings many people to the city is the Karkonosze Mountains, which is on the border with the Czech Republic and Karpacz is the 2nd biggest ski area in Poland. For more information on Wroclaw the city go to www.itwroclaw.pl

 

 

 

 



Comments and Suggestions:

 
Underground Imports
en  es  pl  fr  de  it