Top Ten Polish Attractions

Top Ten Polish Attractions


       Poland is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave. The total area of Poland is 312,679 square km (120,726 square mi), making it the 69th largest country in the world and the 9th largest in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38 million people, which makes it the 34th most populous country in the world and the 6th most populous member of the European Union, being its most populous post-communist member. Poland is a unitary state made up of 16 voivodeships. The establishment of a Polish state is often identified with the adoption of Christianity by its ruler Mieszko I in 966, over the territory similar to that of present-day Poland. The Kingdom of Poland was formed in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin, forming the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth ceased to exist in 1795 as the Polish lands were partitioned among the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire and Austria. Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918. Two decades later, in September 1939, WWII started with the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invasion of Poland. Over six million Polish citizens died in the war. Poland reemerged several years later within the Soviet sphere of influence as the People’s Republic in existence until 1989. During the Revolutions of 1989, 45-year long communist rule was overthrown and the democratic rule was re-established. That gave foundations to modern Poland, constitutionally known as the “Third Polish Republic.” Despite the vast destruction the country experienced in WWII, Poland managed to preserve much of its cultural wealth. Since the end of the communist period, Poland has achieved a “very high” ranking in terms of human development.

  1. Warsaw
    Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly 260 km (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea and 300 km (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population was 1,716,855 residents (2010) with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making it the 10th most populous city proper in the European Union. The area of the city covers 516.9 square km (199.6 square mi), while the city’s agglomeration covers 6,100.43 square km (2,355.39 square mi). Warsaw is an Alpha- global city, a major international tourist destination and an important economic hub in Central and Eastern Europe. It is also known as the “phoenix city” because it has survived many wars throughout its history. Most notably, the city had to be painstakingly rebuilt after the extensive damage it suffered from WWII, during which 80% of its buildings were destroyed. On November 9, 1940 the city was awarded Poland’s highest military decoration for heroism, the Virtuti Militari, for the Siege of Warsaw (1939). Warsaw has given its name to the Warsaw Confederation, the Warsaw Pact, the Duchy of Warsaw, the Warsaw Convention, the Treaty of Warsaw, the Warsaw Uprising, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The Warszawianka is widely considered the unofficial anthem of the city.
    Links: Cities, Sculptures, Castles, Top Ten Opera Houses, Top Ten Arenas, Top Ten Clock Towers, Top Ten Sun Dials,,
  2. Kraków
    Kraków is the 2nd largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centers of Polish academic, cultural and artistic life and is one of Poland’s most important economic hubs. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596; the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918; and the capital of Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship. The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland’s 2nd most important city. It began as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and was already being reported as a busy trading center of Slavonic Europe in 965. With the establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic center. The city has a population of approximately 760,000 whereas about 8 million people live within a 100 km radius of its main square. After the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany at the start of WWII, Kraków was turned into the capital of Germany’s General Government. The Jewish population of the city was moved into a walled zone known as the Kraków Ghetto, from which they were sent to extermination camps such as Auschwitz and the concentration camp at Płaszów. In 1978, Karol Wojtyła, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated to the papacy as Pope John Paul II, the first Slavic pope ever, and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.
    Links: Top Ten Cathedrals, Top Ten Theatres,,
  3. Gdańsk
    Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the center of the country’s 4th largest metropolitan area. The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay (of the Baltic Sea), in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Trójmiasto), with a population of over 800,000. Gdańsk itself has a population of 455,830 (2010), making it the largest city in the Pomerania region of Northern Poland. Gdańsk is Poland’s principal seaport as well as the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is also historically the largest city of the Kashubian region. The city is close to the former late medieval/modern boundary between West Slavic and Germanic lands and it has a complex political history with periods of Polish rule, periods of German rule, and extensive self-rule, with two spells as a free city. It has been part of modern Poland since 1945. Gdańsk is situated at the mouth of the Motława River, connected to the Leniwka, a branch in the delta of the nearby Vistula River, whose waterway system supplies 60% of the area of Poland and connects Gdańsk to the national capital in Warsaw. This gives the city a unique advantage as the center of Poland’s sea trade. Together with the nearby port of Gdynia, Gdańsk is also an important industrial center. Historically an important seaport and shipbuilding center, Gdańsk was a member of the Hanseatic League. The city was the birthplace of the Solidarity movement which, under the leadership of political activist Lech Wałęsa, played a major role in bringing an end to Communist rule across Central Europe.
    Links: Sculptures, Top Ten SeasChurches, Top Ten Clock Towers, Top Ten Fountains,,
  4. Wrocław
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    Wrocław, situated on the River Oder, on Lower Silesia, is the largest city in southwestern Poland. Wrocław was the historical capital of Silesia and today is the capital of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship. Over the centuries, the city has been part of either Poland, Bohemia, Austria, Prussia, or Germany, but since 1945 it has been part of Poland as a result of border changes after WWII demanded by Joseph Stalin. According to official figures for 2010, its population is 632,996, making it the 4th largest city in Poland. Wroclaw is one of the hosts of UEFA Euro 2012. Wrocław has been selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2016. It will share the title with San Sebastián (aka Donostia), Spain. In 2017, Wrocław will host the World Games, a competition in 37 non-Olympic sport disciplines.
    Links: Sculptures, Top Ten Bridges, Top Ten Fountains,,
  5. Łódź
    Łódź is the 3rd largest city in Poland. Located in the central part of the country, it had a population of 742,387 (2009). It is the capital of Łódź Voivodeship, and is approximately 135 km (84 mi) south-west of Warsaw. The city’s coat of arms is an example of canting: depicting a boat, it alludes to the city’s name which translates literally as “boat.”
    Links: Sculptures, Top Ten Synagogues, Top Ten Fountains, Top Ten Ships, Top Ten Boats,,
  6. Bydgoszcz
    Bydgoszcz is a city located in northern Poland, on the Brda and Vistula rivers. With a city population of 358,029 (2009), and an urban agglomeration with more than 460,000 inhabitants, Bydgoszcz is the 8th-largest city in Poland. It has been the seat of Bydgoszcz County and the co-capital, with Toruń, of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999. Prior to this, between 1947 and 1998, it was the capital of the Bydgoszcz Voivodeship, and before that, of the Pomeranian Voivodeship between 1945 and 1947. Bydgoszcz is part of the metroplex Bydgoszcz-Toruń, which totals over 850,000 inhabitants. Bydgoszcz is the seat of Casimir the Great University, University of Technology and Life Sciences and a conservatory, as well as a Collegium Medicum of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. Bydgoszcz hosts the Filharmonia Pomorska concert hall, the Opera Nova opera house, and the Bydgoszcz Ignacy Jan Paderewski Airport. Due to its location between the Vistula and Odra rivers, and the water course of the Bydgoszcz Canal, the city forms part of a water system connected via the Noteć, Warta, Odra, and Elbe with the Rhine and Rotterdam. Bydgoszcz was a candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2016.
  7. Poznań
    Poznań is a city on the Warta River in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centers in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań’s cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be the first capital of the kingdom of Poland. Poznań is now Poland’s 5th largest city. It is the historical capital of the Wielkopolska (“Greater Poland”) region, and is currently the administrative capital of the province called Greater Poland Voivodeship. Poznań is an important center of trade, industry, and education, and hosts regular international trade fairs. It was the host city for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2008, a key stage in the creation of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Poznań was a candidate city for European Capital of Culture in 2016. Poznań is currently bidding to host the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics.
    Links: Sculptures, Top Ten Cathedrals,,
  8. Częstochowa
           Częstochowa is a city in south Poland on the Warta River with 240,027 inhabitants (2009). It has been situated in the Silesian Voivodeship (administrative division) since 1999, and was previously the capital of Częstochowa Voivodeship (1975–1998). However, Częstochowa is historically part of Lesser Poland, not of Silesia, and before 1795, it belonged to the Kraków Voivodeship. The town is known for the famous Pauline monastery of Jasna Góra, which is the home of the Black Madonna painting, a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world come to Częstochowa to see it. The city became home to the Frankism religion in the late 18th and 19th Century. There is also a Lusatian culture excavation site and museum in the city and ruins of a medieval castle in Olsztyn, approximately 25 km (16 mi) from the city center.
    Links: Top Ten Basilicas, Top Ten Cathedrals, Paintings, Sculptures, Top Ten Polish Paintings, Top Ten Paintings of the Virgin Mary,,
  9. Medieval Town of Toruń
    Medieval Town of ToruńMedieval Town of Toruń1Medieval Town of Toruń2Medieval Town of Toruń3Medieval Town of Toruń4Medieval Town of Toruń5Medieval Town of Toruń6Medieval Town of Toruń7Medieval Town of Toruń8Medieval Town of Toruń9MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
           Toruń is an ancient city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River. Its population is 205,934 (2009) and is one of the oldest cities in Poland. The medieval old town of Toruń is the birthplace of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. In 2007 the Old Town in Toruń was added to the list of Seven Wonders of Poland. National Geographic Polska rated the old town market and the Gothic town hall as one of the “30 Most Beautiful Places in the World.” In 2010 Forbes magazine ranked Toruń as number one of the “Polish Cities Attractive for Business.” Previously it was the capital of the Toruń Voivodeship (1975–98) and the Pomeranian Voivodeship (1921–45). The cities and neighboring counties form the Bydgoszcz-Toruń bi-polar metropolitan area. In September 2004, Bydgoszcz Medical School joined Toruń’s Nicolaus Copernicus University as its Collegium Medicum.
    Links: Top Ten Stained Glass Windows,,
  10. Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica
    Churches of Peace in Jawor and ŚwidnicaChurches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica1Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica2Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica3Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica4Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica5
           The Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica in Silesia were named after the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 which permitted the Lutherans in the Roman Catholic parts of Silesia to build three Evangelical churches from wood, loam and straw outside the city walls, without steeples and church bells. The construction time was limited to one year.
    Links: Churches,,
  11. Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland
    Wooden Churches of Southern Little PolandWooden Churches of Southern Little Poland1Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland2Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland3Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland4Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland5Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland7Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland8
           Wooden Churches of Southern Lesser Poland and Subcarpathia are located in Gorlice, Nowy Targ, Bochnia counties (Lesser Poland Voivodeship or Małopolskie), and Brzozów County (Subcarpathian Voivodeship) and are in Binarowa, Blizne, Dębno, Haczów, Lipnica Dolna and Sękowa. There are in fact many others of the region which fit the description: “The wooden churches of southern Little Poland represent outstanding examples of the different aspects of medieval church-building traditions in Roman Catholic culture. Built using the horizontal log technique, common in eastern and northern Europe since the Middle Ages…” The wooden church style of the region originated in the late Medieval, the late 16th century, and began with Gothic ornament and polychrome detail, but because they were timber construction, the structure, general form and feeling is entirely different from the gothic architecture or Polish Gothic (in stone or brick). Later construction show Rococo and Baroque ornamental influence. The form of these Roman Catholic churches is deeply influenced by the Greco-Catholic and Orthodox presence in the region. Some display Greek cross plans and onion domes, but the most interesting of the churches combine these features with the Roman forms with elongated naves and steeples. Collections of wooden churches of the region are in the open air museums in Sanok and Nowy Sącz.
    Links: Churches,,
  12. Wieliczka Salt Mine
    Wieliczka Salt MineWieliczka Salt Mine1Wieliczka Salt Mine2Wieliczka Salt Mine3Wieliczka Salt Mine4Wieliczka Salt Mine5
           The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. The mine, built in the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world’s oldest salt mines still in operation. From its beginning and throughout its existence, the Royal mine was run by the Żupy krakowskie Salt Mines, believed to be the world’s 14th oldest company. Commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 due to low salt prices and mine flooding. The mine’s attractions include dozens of statues and an entire chapel that has been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. The oldest sculptures are augmented by the new carvings by actual artists. About 1.2 million people visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine annually.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten Paintings of the Last Supper, Top Ten Paintings by Leonardo da Vinci,,
  13. Białowieża Forest
    Białowieża ForestBiałowieża Forest1Białowieża Forest2Białowieża Forest3eastern europeBiałowieża Forest5Białowieża Forest6Białowieża Forest7Białowieża Forest8
    Białowieża Forest, known as Belovezhskaya Pushcha in Belarus and  Puszcza Białowieska in Poland, is an ancient woodland that straddles the border between the two countries, located 70 km (43 mi) north of Brest (Belarus) and 62 km (39 mi) southeast of Białystok (Poland). It is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain and lies in parts of the Brest Voblast (Kamianiec and Pruzhany districts, BE) and Hrodna Voblast (Svislach district) in Belarus and on the Polish side near the town of Białowieża in the Podlaskie Voivodeship (190 km (120 mi) northeast of Warsaw). Białowieża means the White Tower in Polish. The border between the two countries runs through the forest. There is a border crossing for hikers and cyclists. The forest is home to 800 wisent, the continent’s heaviest land animals. A security fence keeps the wisent herds physically and genetically separated.
    Links: Top Ten Forests,,
  14. Park Mużakowski
    Park MużakowskiPark Mużakowski1Park Mużakowski2Park Mużakowski3OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPark Mużakowski5
           The Muskau Park is the largest and one of the most famous English gardens of Germany and Poland. Situated in the historic Upper Lusatia region, it covers 3.5 square km (1.4 square mi) of land in Poland and 2.1 square km (0.81 square mi) in Germany. The park extends on both sides of the Lusatian Neisse River, which constitutes the border between the countries. The 17.9 square km (6.9 square mi) buffer zone around the park encompassed the German town Bad Muskau (Upper Sorbian: Mužakow) in the West and Polish Łęknica (Wjeska, former Lugknitz) in the East. While Muskau Castle is situated west of the river, the heart of the park are the partially wooded raised areas on the east bank called The Park on Terraces. In 2003 a pedestrian bridge spanning the Neisse was rebuilt to connect both parts.
    Links: Castles, Top Ten Gardens,,
  15. Zamość
           Zamość is a town in southeastern Poland with 66,633 inhabitants (2004), situated in the south-western part of Lublin Voivodeship (since 1999), about 90 km (55.92 mi) from Lublin, 247 km (153.48 mi) from Warsaw and 60 km (37.28 mi) from the border with Ukraine. About 20 km from the town is the Roztocze National Park. “Zamość is a unique example of a Renaissance town in Central Europe, consistently designed and built in accordance with the Italian theories of the “ideal town,” on the basis of a plan which was the result of perfect cooperation between the open-minded founder, Jan Zamoyski, and the outstanding architect, Bernardo Morando. Zamość is an outstanding example of an innovative approach to town planning, combining the functions of an urban ensemble, a residence, and a fortress in accordance with a consistently implemented Renaissance concept. The result of this is a stylistically homogeneous urban composition with a high level of architectural and landscape values. A real asset of this great construction was its creative enhancement with local artistic architectural achievements. Zamość is spoken of as a Renaissance town. However, on the one hand, Morando himself must have had Mannerist training, and on the other, in all the countries of Central Europe (Poland, Bohemia, Slovakia, Hungary, certain German regions and, in part, Austria proper), Italian Renaissance architecture had been well assimilated and adapted to local traditions since the 15th century. Consequently, Zamość was planned as a town in which the Mannerist taste mingled with certain Central European urban traditions, such as the arcaded galleries that surround the squares and create a sheltered passage in front of the shops.”
  16. Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork
    Castle of the Teutonic Order in MalborkCastle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork1
           The Castle in Malbork is the largest castle in the world by surface area, and the largest brick building in Europe. It was built in Prussia by the Teutonic Knights, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, in a form of an Ordensburg fortress. The Order named it Marienburg (Mary’s Castle). The town which grew around it was also named Marienburg. The castle is a classic example of a medieval fortress, and on its completion in 1406 was the world’s largest brick castle.
    Links: Castles,,
  17. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska
    Kalwaria ZebrzydowskaKalwaria Zebrzydowska1Kalwaria Zebrzydowska2
    Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, including the Mannerist Architectural and Park Landscape Complex and Pilgrimage Park, is a town in southern Poland with 4,429 inhabitants (2007). It is situated in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship (since 1999); previously it was in the Bielsko-Biała Voivodeship (1975–1998). The town is named after the religious complex founded by Governor of Kraków Mikołaj Zebrzydowski on December 1, 1602. The city of Zebrzydów was established in 1617 in order to house the growing number of pilgrims visiting the religious complex. The city rights were expanded and the city remapped by Jan Zebrzydowski in 1640, gaining the name Nowy Zebrzydów (New Zebrzydów). Around 1715 the city suffered a large fire, and was subsequently rebuilt, by its then owner, Józef Czartoryski. The Czartoryski family palace was built in 1729-1731 (in the 1980’s it was reconfigured into the current seminary.) The Habsburg Austrian Empire annexed the city as part of its invasion of Poland during the First Partition of Poland in 1772, giving it the name Kalwaria. In 1887 Jan Kanty Brandys became the owner of the town and around 1890 the name Kalwaria Zebrzydowska appeared. In 1896 the town lost its City Rights due to a decision by the governing Austrian authorities. Construction of St. Joseph’s church occurred around 1905. The town’s jurisdiction was returned to Poland in 1918 at the end of WWI. The City Rights were restored in 1934 by decision of the Polish government. Post-WWII the town’s economic development largely relied on the expansion of its furniture manufacturing and woodcraft industry as well as a growing number of pilgrims to its religious complex.
    Links: Monasteries, Sculptures, Palaces, Top Ten Parks,,
  18. Masuria
    Masuria is a natural region in northeastern Poland famous for its 2,000 lakes. Geographically, Masuria is part of two adjacent lakeland districts, the Masurian Lake District and the Iława Lake District. The landscape of the region was formed by the last ice age around 14,000 – 15,000 years ago in Pleistocene. The terrain is mostly hilly, with connecting lakes, rivers and streams. Forests account for about 30% of the area. The northern part of Masuria is covered mostly by the broadleaved forest, while the southern part is dominated by pine and mixed forests. The region’s economy relies largely on eco-tourism and agriculture. The lakes for which the region is best known offer varieties of water sports, recreation and vacation activities.
  19. Links: Top Ten Polish Hotels, Top Ten Polish Restaurants,

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