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Poland

Tourist attractions in Poland

Bieszczady Mountains

A paradise for romantics, lovers of nature and restless drifters. The soft green mountains peppered with traditional wooden churches are one of the most secluded areas in Europe. The extraordinary wildlife and picturesque landscapes make it an ideal holiday destination. Bieszczady is the most beautiful in summer and autumn, whereas during winter they invite the fans of skiing.

Czestochowa

czestochowaThe medium size city of Czestochowa lies in the heart of Krakowsko-Czestochowska Upland, the region characterised by picturesque Jurassic rocks. Czestochowa is usually associated with Jasna Gora Monastery which is the biggest Marian sanctuary in the country. For the majority of Poles it is an important pilgrimage destination and a main cult place of the Virgin Mary. The icon known as Black Madonna of Czestochowa crowned in 1656 as the Queen and Protector of Poland is credited with many miracles.

Gdansk

gdanskThe cheerful maritime city is popular with both tourist and holiday destination. Situated by the sea, it has a gentle climate and beautiful beaches. A famous seaside resort Sopot is nearby. The exclusive architecture of the Old Town, including the largest brick Gothic church in the world is undoubtedly worth exploring. The present image of the city was created by its complex history. Gdansk used to often change hands and in 1980 it witnessed the birth of the Solidarity movement, which brought the end of Communism.

Krakow (Cracow)

krakowThe former country’s capital is one of the top tourist attractions in Europe. Most of the city guests are captivated by its magical atmosphere and the splendid architecture. In Krakow you can see mediaeval cathedrals, the Renaissance castle, Baroque churches, the Art Nouveau theatre and many other monuments. However old and beautiful it is, do not think that Krakow is limited to the monuments and museums. Thanks to an amazing density and variety of bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants, Krakow sparkles with life, especially during warm seasons.

Malbork (Marienburg)

malborkThe Teutonic Order was founded around 1190 in Palestine to crusade against the Muslims and pagans. In the 14th century the Teutonic Knights conquered a pagan tribe of Prussians and moved their headquarters from Venice to Malbork on the Nogat river which is now northern Poland. A trace of the their presence in the town is the imposing red brick castle from 1274 on the river bank, which is the largest Gothic fortress in Europe.

Masurian Lakes

masurian lakesPicturesque land of reputedly 3,000 lakes. For sailing fans, fishermen, hikers, cyclists and those who seek tranquillity, the Masuria is the number one holiday destination. Apart from the water sports and wandering around, you may explore a multitude of historical places. There are castles in Reszel, Nidzica and Gizycko, the amazing Baroque church in Swieta Lipka and the Hitler’s wartime headquarters in the forests near Ketrzyn.

Oswiecim (Auschwitz)

oswiecimThe modest provincial town of Oswiecim better known under its German name “Auschwitz” was a witness to an enormous evil caused by mankind. During World War II in the largest German extermination camp around 1.5 million people perished. A gruesome exhibition in the former camp makes the visitors rethink the basic ideas of humanity and dignity.

Tatra Mountains

tatra mountainsThe highest mountain range between the Alps and the Caucasus. Rocky peaks covered with all-year snow, sharp ridges, picturesque ponds, waterfalls and valleys make this place supposedly the most spectacular in Poland. About 250 km of trails and a wide range of slopes would satisfy the most demanding hikers and skiers. A stay in Zakopane town at the foot of the mountains is recommended to those who love admiring beautiful landscapes and original folk culture.

Warsaw

warsawThe capital of Poland. Rebuilt after World War II practically from scratch. Warsaw’s vibrant business downtown takes pride in many skyscrapers and ambitious plans to build more. The catchy skyline is still dominated by the enormous Palace of Culture and Science – a Stalin’s donation. Warsaw is a big world with an east European flavour. Do not miss the beautiful Old Town, the Royal Route, the Chopin museum, several magnificent palaces and the former Jewish ghetto.

Wroclaw

wroclawThe capital of Lower Silesia (Dolny Slask) has a huge Old Town built on several islands connected by over 100 bridges. Apart from its unique location, Wroclaw amazes with a plenitude of Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture. An extremely complicated history, combining cultural influences of Germany, Bohemia, Austria and Poland, left its mark on Wroclaw’s atmosphere. After World War II the German population was expelled and replaced by Poles from Lwow (L’viv) that remained within the borders of the Soviet Union.

Bialowieza Forest

bialowieza forestProbably the only intact primeval forest in Europe. Deeply deep. A highly protected biosphere area on the border with Byelorussia. The reserve of European bison (żubr), an animal extinct elsewhere. Plenty of wild game. Orthodox churches and two surviving Tartar mosques.

Elblag-Ostroda Canal Elblag-Ostroda Canal

A masterpiece of the 19th century Prussian engineering. An 81-kilometres long network of canals – a sophisticated system of choke-points, locks and slip-ways. Take an 11-hour voyage; there will be three slip-ways when your boat is hauled by large rail-bound carriages transporting you over stretches with no water. Quizzical.

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

kalwaria zebrzydowskaBeautiful pilgrimage site dear to Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła was born 4 kilometres away in Wadowice). Baroque Bernardine monastery with a Via Dolorosa (the Stations of the Cross) – a long sequence of chapels and Marian stations. A UNESCO landmark.

Kazimierz Dolny

kazimierz dolnyThe best known of the many small Polish towns with charismatic Renaissance cores. A romantic castle ruin, Baroque churches, Three Cross’s Hill, winding streets and a ferry across the Vistula River. A supreme artistic place.

Lodz

lodzLodz may rarely be listed among the most important tourist destinations, but it definitely deserves promotion. The second-biggest city in Poland has been nicknamed Polish Manchester, harking thus back to its strong textile industry tradition. You can spot cotton mills, beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, Jewish monuments and the longest Polish street Piotrkowska. The mecca of Polish film industry features rowdy nightlife.

Slowinski National Park

Slowinski National ParkA great, exotic natural attraction – 44 metres tall shifting sand dunes (wydmy) at the banks of Lake Łebsko. Desert-like landscape used to be a training ground for Rommel’s Afrika Korps, missiles V1 and V2 were tested here. Now an important biosphere reserve and haven for rare bird species. An open-air folk museum nearby.

Torun (Thorn, Torun)

torunUNESCO listed the mediaeval town of Torun as world heritage. Similarly to Krakow it was not destroyed during WW II. Nicolas Copernicus – the founder of the heliocentric theory (that the Earth rotates around the Sun) born here. Pay a visit to his interesting museum. See the Teutonic UNESCO heritage German heritagecastle andthe leaning tower (like the one in Italian Pisa). Numerous cellar pubs: Torun is a well-known university town. Delicious gingerbread. Organ music.

Treblinka

The saddest place you may ever visit in your life. The Germans located the second biggest extermination camp 80 kilometres east from Warsaw. In contrast to Auschwitz they managed to tidy up all traces of their atrocities. You will find yourself in the middle of nothingness along with several thousands of silent standing stones.

Wieliczka

wieliczkaAncient salt mines (in operation for 700 years). The small Krakow’s suburb ranks to the most famous tourist destinations in Eastern Europe. Often described as a fairy tale kingdom made of salt. A mysterious labyrinth of 300 kilometres of halls and corridors hewn in pure salt (the lowest are 372 meters underground). The 2.5-hours guided tours shows just a short stretch including a salt lake, caves and the beautiful Queen Kinga’s Chapel.

Zamosc

zamoscAnother UNESCO-highlighted Renaissance civitas. Zamosc is fairly off-the-beaten-track and Eastern, unscathed by wars and very much preserved. Until present times encircled with fortification wall, Zamosc was intended by its builder, the powerful 16th century chancellor Jan Zamoyski as a town in ideal shape. Zamoyski Palace, Zamoyski Academy, beautiful tenement houses.

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