Mazowieckie Warmińsko-mazurskie Pomorskie Zachodniopomorskie Lubuskie Wielkopolskie Kujawsko-pomorskie Łódzkie Dolnośląskie Opolskie Śląskie Świętokrzyskie Podlaskie Lubelskie Podkarpackie Małopolskie


Fryderyk Chopin was born in a former manorial outhouse at Żelazowa Wola. The village is surrounded by extensive meadows and fields and lies on the river Utrata, among whose banks grow patulous willows. Nowadays the manor house at Żelazowa Wola houses a museum to the composer. Fryderyk Chopin is immortalised in the monument to be found at the Łazienki Park in Warsaw. When in Warsaw it is also recommended to pay a visit to the Chopin Museum in the Ostrogski Palace.
The Blue Tower is one of the capital’s skyscrapers. It has a silvery elevation which reflects the colour of the sky hence the referral to it being ‘Blue.’ This high rise building is 120 metres tall (27 storeys). It was completed in 1991 and since then an array of other skyscrapers have been built in Warsaw.
Kurpie is a region in the Polish administrative province of Mazovia, and inhabited by the Kurpie ethnic grouping. The name Kurpie is derived from the footwear (kurpsi) which was worn by the inhabitants of this region. Characteristic elements for Kurpie culture are traditional costumes, embroidery, decorative accessories made from amber, sculptures, distinctive thatched cottages and folk cut outs. The local population speak a regional dialect. When in the area it is well worth visiting the Museum of Kurpie Culture in Ostrołęka.
The colours white and red have been found on the Polish national emblem for centuries. White is the symbol of purity and innocence, while red is that of the courage of knighthood. These colours have appeared on Polish standards from the very start of the Polish state. In 1919 the flag in its present form was recognised to be the official symbol of Poland.
The Polish state coat of arms is a white eagle in a gold crown against a red background. The eagle as a symbol was placed on the Polish coat of arms by the country’s legendary founder - Lech. From then onwards the symbol of the eagle has appeared on coins, flags, shields… The eagle that appears today on the Polish coat of arms was designed in 1927. During the post-war communist period the eagle had its crown removed, something that was reinstated in December 1989.
The Warsaw coat of arms is the mermaid – a woman with a fish tail holding a shield and sword. According to one legend the Warsaw mermaid is the sister of the mermaid from Copenhagen. According to the legend many centuries ago both sisters left the waters of the Atlantic and swam into the Baltic. One stopped off in Denmark, while the others swam with the current of the Vistula. On the way she stopped in order to rest and came ashore on a sandy bank. As she was so enchanted by the place she decided to stay. It is at this very spot that Warsaw is today situated. One can see a monument to the Mermaid both on the Vistula embankment and in the Old Town Square.
Jan Kochanowski is an eminent representative of the Polish Renaissance – poet, dramatist, and politician. He lived and worked in the 16th century. He inherited from his parents the estate at Czarnolas, where he spent many of his adult years. He combined in his work inspiration drawn from many philosophical currents including Christianity, neo-Platonism, stoicism and Epicureanism. He was the master of a form keenly imitated by many in subsequent epochs.
The National Stadium was completed in 2011 with a view to the European Football Championships in 2012. There had previously stood in this place The Decade Stadium, build in 1955, at which flourished – small time commerce. The current stadium has a capacity of almost 60,000 and is one of the most modern stadiums in Europe.
There is a huge park almost in the very centre of the capital, in which one may walk in peace, feed the friendly squirrels and swans as well as admire the peacocks that strut about. This is Łazienki – once the summer residence of King Stanisław August Poniatowski, and today a recreational part, a place of relaxation for many of Warsaw’s inhabitants
The Palace of Culture and Science is one of the most commonly recognised buildings in Warsaw. It was built from 1952-1955 on the order of Joseph Stalin as ‘a gift from the Soviet people to the Polish nation.’ At present it is a living museum to socialist realism and one open to the public. From the viewing platform on the 30th floor one may marvel at the view of Warsaw. The Palace of Culture and Science is one of the tallest buildings in Poland, standing at 237 metres. It is the headquarters for many companies and institutions.
For centuries the capital of Poland had been Cracow, however following a fire at the Wawel Castle in Cracow in 1595 Zygmunt III Waza decided to take his court to Warsaw. It was then on the wishes of the monarch that Italian architects converted the castle of the Mazovian dukes. During the Second World War the castle was completely destroyed. Luckily it was to be fairly quickly rebuilt and at present may be visited by tourists. In front of the castle is the monument to King Zygmunt III Waza, placed at the top of a tall column known as the Zygmunt Column.


Grunwald Field is a historic monument located around 2 km from the village of Grunwald. It was here that the famous battle in Polish history against the Teutonic Knights took place, known as the Battle of Grunwald. The Teutonic knights were an order formed almost 800 years ago in Jerusalem in order to protect pilgrims and fight against the infidel. In Poland it was known as the order of the cross because of the black crosses worn on their white cloaks. On the anniversary of the battle (15th July 1410) re-enactment societies from Poland and abroad recreate the Battle of Grunwald. This Polish victory is the subject of one of Jan Matejko’s pictures; Matejko being an eminent nineteenth-century Polish painter. This enormous work (426 × 987 cm) may be seen at the National Museum in Warsaw.
The capital of the administrative province of Warmia-Mazuria is Olsztyn, which has a population of 175,000. Within the city boundaries are to be found 15 lakes! Once there were even more but they were drained and used for building land. Olsztyn has the second largest planetarium. One may come across the most eminent of Polish astronomers in the centre of Olsztyn, Nicolas Copernicus, who sits on the so-called Copernicus bench. The astronomer sits on a low wall and gazes at the sky. Nicolas Copernicus lived in Warmia for 40 years, including in Lidzbark Warmiński, Frombork as well as in Olsztyn itself. It was here that he wrote his work On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, which was to begin the so-called Copernicus revolution. The Copernicus Bench is one of the ways to commemorate this great astronomer.
The Sailing Village at Mkołajki is one of the best known spots on the sailing routes of the Mazurian Lake District. Mikołajki is a small town on Lake Mikołajski. Boat and yacht owners have here for their disposition 200 moorings. This is the largest marina in Poland. After mooring their vessel in the marina those visiting have an array of inns, fried fish cafes, and restaurants to choose from. Mikołajki is the largest water sports centre in Poland.
One of the seven wonders of Poland, a monument to technology. It is 84.2 km long and is the longest navigational canal in Poland. The Elbląg Canal has five inclined planes on which boats move past on special tracks. The difference in elevation between the lakes which the canal links is even as much as 100 metres.
Mazuria is known as the Land of a Thousand Lakes. In actual fact there are over two thousand lakes here! The greatest tourist attraction is the largest lake in Poland - Śniardwy (113.8 km²). The lake is beautiful at dawn when its surface is covered by a light mist. At such times it is often impossible to see the shores and the lake recalls a sea. On the Popielno peninsula, flooded by the waters of Lake Śniardwa, Polish horses live wild. Here are numerous camp sites, resorts and small ports.
The Stork Village at Żywków annually sees the arrival of around 150 storks. There are more stork nests than there are homesteads of which there are only 9 in Żywków. On the roofs of houses, agricultural buildings, on trees and poles the storks have built 52 nests, to which they willingly return each year. During the season there are several times more storks than people. In Poland live around a quarter of the entire world population of white storks. The storks build their nests on buildings, poles and in trees. The storks love human company – usually their nests are to be found no further than 500 metres from homesteads.
The Loving Couple natural monument is two trees: an oak and a pine. The pine is 270 years old the oak 160 and for years they have been held in a loving embrace. At Krutyń the 18-metre oak embraces the 27-metre pine with its boughs
The Mrągowo Country Picnic is an international country music festival, a really key event for country music fans. The first festival took place in 1983, Every year at the end of July and beginning of August tens of thousands of country music fans descend on the town. Cowboy outfits, motorcycles, off-road vehicles create a unique atmosphere at one with the Wild West.


Kashubia is a region in northern Poland inhabited by Kashubians, with its own distinct culture and language. For the last few years it has been possible to take the Polish school leaving certificate in Kashubian as a language. It is a region of varied flora and fauna. Here are to be found over 500 lakes making the territory an ideal breeding ground for many species of bird. Kashubia with its numerous agritourist small holdings is keenly visited by those in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. One can also see here the longest plank in the world and an upside down house.
Lech Wałęsa is one of the best known Poles. During the times of the Polish People’s Republic he was an opposition activist, cofounder of the ‘Solidarity’ trade union; the first president of Poland after the fall of communism as well as the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1983 along with a host of other honours and awards. His life and political activities are charted in the film by Andrzej Wajda, Wałęsa. A man of hope (2013).
The pier in Sopot is the longest pier in the Baltic. The wooden pier in Sopot is over 500 metres long. It is a popular recreation spot for both the inhabitants of Sopot and visiting tourists. The pier is named after John Paul II.
In Sopot on Heroes of Monte Casino Street (commonly referred to as Monciak) at number 53 can be found the ‘Crooked House.’ This is one of the most interesting and most original buildings in the world. It houses a retail area, cafes and restaurants.
Grey seals live in the Baltic. On the Hel peninsula there is a seal sanctuary run by scientists from the University of Gdansk, who carry out research into the species.
Situated on the very shoreline Gdansk is a city of over a thousand years’ history, enjoying its greatest period of development thanks to the trade in grain in the 16th and 17th century. In the city are to be found the old granaries and the Crane – the medieval port crane operated on the back of human muscle. Workers would pull ropes entering on the steps constructed within the interior of huge treadmills. In this way it was possible to raise up cargoes weighing two tons to the height of the ninth storey. Gdansk also has the largest brick church in Europe – St. Mary’s. At the so-called Long Market is the Neptune Fountain – god of the sea. Every year for over seven hundred years on the turn of July and August is held St. Dominic’s Fair, a retail-cultural event and one of the biggest of its kind in Europe.
The biggest Gothic castle in Europe is to be found in Malbork. It was built by the Teutonic Knights who were brought to Poland in 1226 with the hope of constituting support in the fight against the pagan Prussians. Quickly, however, the monks, who were at the same time knights, created their own state, one hostile to Poland. On the lands seized they built fortified castles. The Castle at Malbork is the greatest of these. Its construction took over 100 years. The castle covered a surface area three times greater than the town of Malbork situated at its foot.
Hel is a small town situated at the end of the Hel Peninsula on the Baltic Sea. It is a paradise for windsurfers and kitesurfing enthusiasts due to very strong wind. During staying in Hel is worth to see the old lighthouse.
In Będonin – a small village in the administrative province of Pomerania – is the Polish Anthem Museum. The museum has been in operation since 1978 and is housed in an 18th-century gentry manor house, where the creator of the Polish national anthem, Józef Wybicki, was born. The text to Dąbrowski’s Mazurka was written in 1797 and has been the Polish national anthem since 1927.


A maritime jewel of a golden hue. The name for amber in Polish bursztyn comes from the German word Bernstein – the stone which burns. And although it is difficult to find it on the beaches, shops at the coast offer a wide range of jewellery and knick-knacks made from amber.
Gulls are permanent residents of the Baltic coastline. Here live several species. On scorching days they circle above the sunbathing tourists, while in the evening they walk up and down the now deserted beaches.
The most popular dish along the entire coast is of course fish. The most popular are cod, pollock, halibut and plaice, which are never in short supply in the Baltic.
Several species of seal live in the Baltic. The largest and the most commonly encountered on the Polish coast is the grey seal. Grey seal males can even reach a length of three metres and weigh over 300 kilos. The females are somewhat smaller. At present there are around 25,000 grey seals living in the Baltic.
One of the most popular coastal health resorts is Kołobrzeg. Here are to be found 27 sanatoriums, treating a large number of conditions. In the town is a commercial, passenger and fishing sea port. Kołobrzeg is also a regional cultural centre with many concerts and festivals, the most popular of which was the Army Song Festival, held from 1967 to 1990. The Kołobrzeg Lighthouse is a notable local landmark.
The largest city in the province of Western Pomerania is Szczecin. The city’s calling card is the 500-metre viewing terrace along the banks of the Oder called Wały Chrobrego, It is worth visiting the extremely beautiful renaissance Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes – the historical seat of the Gryfit ducal family.
There is no stranger forest in the whole of Poland! Not far from Gryfin grow around a hundred pine trees, whose trunks are bent towards the ground, all in a northern direction. Around the Crooked Forest pine trees grow straight. So why have some of them changed their shape? It’s well worth having a look.
The natural habitat for the European bison is the primordial forest of Białowieska, situated in the east of Poland. However, in Międzyzdroje there has been created a reserve of European bison so that tourists are able to admire this king of the Polish forest. Międzyzdroje is at present one of the most popular Baltic resorts. Every year is held the Festival of the Stars. One can also stroll along the star Promenade, where the most popular Polish actors and representatives of the Polish film industry have left their hand prints along the walkway. Of interest is also a visit to the wax museum or a boat trip to Świnoujście
The Slav and Viking Open Air Museum at Wolin
A medieval open air museum opened in 2008 where can be found buildings relating to the medieval development of Wolin. Periodically during the day are displays of craftsmanship and recreations of medieval battle scenes. Each year the Slav and Viking Festival is held at the museum.


The figure of Jesus Christ King of the Universe in the small town of Świebodzin is the largest figure of Christ in the world. It towers to 36 metres and was raised on an artificially constructed mound. The combined height of the monument is 52 metres. This figure is modelled on Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro but it is 6 metres taller.
The Cistercian Abbey at Gościkowo-Paradyż is a unique historic complex connected to the founding of the Cistercian Abbey in Goscikowo in 1230. The monks changed the name to Paradisus Snactae Mariae (Paradise of the Holy Mother). The abbey was dissolved (as a result of the partitions) in 1834. Various effects relating to the monks can be viewed at the Paradyż Museum. The Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary can also be visited together with the monastery buildings and the former gardens.
The Lubuskie Province is a region of lakes and beautiful pine woods. Here can be found perfect, though still relatively undiscovered, places for a break for all who love water sports, horse riding or angling.
Muskau Park is an extraordinary place for walks or rambling. It is situated within the territory of Germany and Poland and is the largest ornamental park in the English style in these two countries. The Polish and German parts are linked by two bridges – the Double Bridge and the English Bridge. The park was laid out in the first half of the 19th century by Duke Hermann von Puckler-Muskau. In 2004 it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
A characteristic feature of the region are the Lubuskie vineyards. There are increasingly more of them and they are becoming larger and larger. The oldest is the Kinga Vineyard situated in the environs of Zielona Góra and established in 1985. The largest is the Dębogóra Vineyard with an area of 8 hectares.
The Lubuskie Lands are famed for their natural wealth in the form of numerous crystal clear rivers, lakes and pristine forests. It is difficult to find a more enticing reason than this and better holiday conditions especially for kayak and bicycle tourism. A kayak trip is a perfect way to rid oneself of everyday stress through a sporting activity while being in contact with virgin nature.


The capital of the administrative province is Poznan. On Poznan’s Old Market Square can be found a beautiful town hall build in the renaissance style. Every day the Poznan bugle call is played from the Town Hall tower, while at twelve o’clock the Poznan goats can be seen. The Poznan Opera has operated in the city since 1919; it being located in a beautiful building of classicist architecture, adorned with numerous details and symbolic sculptures (Lyricism and Drama) as well as Pegasus and a fountain as the symbol of inspiration. Poznan has since 1921 hosted the International Poznan Trade Fairs, which are the largest in Central-Eastern Europe.
On the banks of the Warta, not far from the settlement of Rogalin, grow the Rogalin oaks. This is the largest concentration of oaks in Europe, numbering around 2000. The most famous are three oaks: Lech, Czech and Rus each being over 700 years old.
The St. Martin’s Day crescent-shaped roll with its white poppy seed filling is prepared in Poznan and the surrounding area. On St. Martin’s Day, which falls on the 11th of November, in every Poznan home are to be found St. Martin’s Day crescent-shaped rolls.
The university in Poznan is the Adam Mickiewicz University, the third largest in Poland. It comprises 15 faculties at which study forty seven thousand undergraduates and post-graduates. The university has over 1300 PhD students. Adam Mickiewicz, the famous Polish poet, is also the patron of Poznan’s historic municipal park. Here is a monument to this famous poet of Romanticism (19th century). For the specialist this is an interesting place due to its fascinating trees and plants; for the city’s inhabitants it is an attractive place to relax.
The Citadel Park is the largest in Poznan (over 100 hectares). Here are to found several cemeteries, two museums, eateries and objects of cultural interest (monuments, sculptures etc.) including the sculpture work of the eminent Polish sculptor – Magdalena Abakanowicz. Her works are known as abakans.
Malta Lake is an artificial reservoir, on which water sports are practiced. There are many sporting and recreational centres around its shores, ones widely used by the inhabitants of Poznan and district.
Kalisz is quite possibly the oldest town in Poland. Already in the second century AD it was noted by Claudius Ptolemy in the work entitled “Geography’ where he mentioned the settlement of Calisia found on the Amber Route. This is why Kalisz is considered to be the oldest Polish town. It is a very attractive for tourists as a result of its numerous architectural monuments.
Gniezno was the first capital of Poland and it was here that Poland arose. According to legend the city’s name comes from the Polish word gniazdo [nest] and is connected with the history of the creation of the Polish state. The most important historic monument is the Gniezno Cathedral, in which are found the Gniezno Doors presenting the life of St. Adalbert.


The home town of that greatest of astronomers, Nicholas Copernicus, is Torun, which is at its most beautiful when viewed from the river. The majority of the historic buildings are from the Middle Ages and were built in the Gothic style. Beautiful town houses were constructed around the old market square. In one of these on the 19th of February 1473 Nicholas Copernicus was born. Now in No. 15 is a museum to the astronomer. Torun is one of Poland’s most architecturally rich cities, with over 300 notable buildings including the Gothic town hall, the city scales, St. John’s Cathedral, the Church of St. Jacob or the medieval keep known as the Crooked Tower.
This eminent astronomer was to be born in Torun itself on the 19th February 1473. He was to make possibly the most important discovery in the world: that it was not the Sun which orbited the Earth but the Earth the Sun!: referred to as the Copernican Revolution. Nicholas Copernicus was also interested in mathematics, the law, economics, astrology and medicine. He was to formulate his own economic law which states that ‘Bad money drives out good. In Torun, Nicholas Copernicus’s city, there could not but be a Nicholas Copernicus House and monument to the man who ‘moved the Earth and stopped the Sun and Heavens.’ Here at the Planetarium one can see the entire sky.
The Mouse Tower at Kruszwica is a 32 metre octagonal brick tower. Once there was a whole castle in Kruszwica, built by Kazimierz the Great around 1350. Several legends are connected with the Tower. The most popular is the tale of Popiel, the legendary ruler of Kruszwica, who was eaten by mice – hence the tower’s name. The legend was described by Gall Anonim in the Polish Chronicle.
So what is Torun most famous for? For gingerbread of course! It has been baked here for centuries in wooden or clay moulds in various unique shapes.
Around 30 km from Gniezno situated on a peninsula jutting into the waters of Lake Biskupin was unearthed in 1933 one of the greatest discoveries in the history of Polish archaeology. During the course of digging up peat a certain small holder, completely by chance, struck wooden stakes lying in the bog. He mentioned the fndng to a local teacher, and he in turn academics from Poznan University. It was to occur that under the lake was an extensive settlement from over 2500 years ago! Scientists have reconstructed houses, streets and defensive walls. Today one may see how people lived in prehistoric times.
Bydgoszcz is sometimes referred to as the ‘Polish Amsterdam.’ The association is not a difficult one to understand given that three rivers flow through the city. Both locals and tourists willingly walk the embankments of the rivers Brda and Wisła and along the sides of the Bydgoszcz Canal, admiring the architecture. An alternative to a walk is to travel by the water tramway. Bydgoszcz is the most ‘hospitable’ city in Poland. Why? Because it has hospitality in its very name: the ending –goszcz, one characteristic for Slavs, means quite simply ‘guest.’


Manufaktura is a modern entertainment, retail and cultural centre, which opened in 2006 and was very soon to become the calling card of Łódź itself. The complex is located within the grounds of the former factory of Izrael Poznański, one of the greatest of Łódź’s factory owners. From its very inception, Manufaktura has been a meeting point for the residents of Łódź; a place for them to relax as well as being the setting for many festivals, concerts and events. In one of the buildings is housed the Museum of Art with its collections of modern art along with the Factory Museum, where one may learn about the life of the people of Łódź in the 19th century and become acquainted with the history of the factory itself. Next to Manifaktura, in the Poznański Palace, is the City of Łódź Museum, where are exhibits on the city’s many great citizens such as Artur Rubinstein, the poet Julian Tuwim, the writer Władysław Reymont or the emissary Jan Karski. Another symbol of the city is Piotrowska Street – the longest retail street in Europe (approx 4.2 km) with its numerous institutions, restaurants, clubs and pubs all contributing to its unique atmosphere.
Julian Tuwim (born in Łódź on 13th September 1894 and who died in Zakopane on 27th December 1953) was a popular Polish poet, writer, song and operetta libretto writer, though first and foremost the writer of children’s verse. One of his most well known works being The Locomotive. Tuwin was also the cofounder of the poetic group Skamander as well as being a translator of Russian, French and German poetry.
The Łódź area is also connected with the writer Władysław Stanisław Reymont (born 7th May 1967, died 5th December 1925). He wrote the novel The Promised Land, the hero of which was the city of Łódź, as well as the work The Peasants presenting rural life with its customs, traditions and folklore, for which he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924.
The Łódź Film School is an academy educating future directors, actors, screenwriters, film and television cameramen. The Łódź Film School came into being in 1948 and can list amongst its graduates Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polański and Krzysztof Kieślowski. In 2014 the School held second place in the world film rankings compiled by the magazine The Hollywood Reporter
The Łódź Alley of Stars Walk of Fame, situated on Piotrkowska Street, is modelled on the Walk of fame in Hollywood. On the eastern side are star directors and cameramen, on the western – actors. The decision to award a star is taken by the chapter operating at the Cinematographic Museum in Łódź and the Łódź Film School.
The Jewish Cemetery in Łódź at the moment of its foundation (in 1892) was the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe (at present the largest is in Berlin). Around 45 thousand of the over 230 thousand graves are those of Jews who died or were murdered during the existence of the Łódź ghetto.
Łowicz is one of the oldest towns in Poland, and is filled with historic buildings. These include the Old Market Square with its historic town hall and open air museum, where one can see examples of Łowicz folk art (folk costumes, cut outs, sculpture and furniture). One of Łowicz’s attractions is the New Market Square – the only one in Poland and one of three in Europe in the shape of a triangle, with town houses from the 18th and 19th century.
Lipce Reymontowskie is the village location of the Władysław Reymont Regional Museum. Here one can marvel at costumes of old, embroidery and artefacts connected with the writer Władysław Reymont, who set his novel The Peasant (awarded the Nobel Prize in 1924) in Lipce.


Wrocław is the fourth largest and one of the most beautiful cities in Poland. The history of this city on the Oder is a most fascinating one. Wrocław together with the present-day province of Lower Silesia was to be once again incorporated into Poland following the end of the Second World War. The city possesses an array of beautiful historic buildings, with the Wrocław Market Square together with the Town Hall, the Salt Square and the mass of Gnomes hidden away in recesses and corners all musts to see.
The calling card for Wrocław are the Gnomes. At present they number 246 and are constantly on the increase. The Gnome figures are situated in various places in the city; each gnome has its own name, with their attributes often connected with the place they are to be found in. Discovering them is a real find not only for the youngest of tourists.
On Poland’s southern border, not far from Kudowa Zdrój, lies Szczeliniec – the highest peak in the Table Mountains. It rises to a height of 919 metres above sea level. At the top is a hostel, reachable by 665 steps – the only way to get onto the mountain. While climbing up the stone steps one may marvel at the rock sculptures, all nature’s work, including the Camel, the Hen, the Monkey or the Eye of the Needle. Close to Szczeliniec Wielki are the Blue Rocks – a rock labyrinth, and at Radków a picturesque lake, which on sultry days one may sail across in kayaks or water bicycles.
OSTRÓW TUMSKI (Cathedral Island) – is the oldest place in Wrocław, and one which gave the city its beginnings. Once it was an island, with it only becoming connected to the surrounding land in the 19th century. It was a bishopric seat, something borne out by the Gothic cathedral of John the Baptist.
The Wrocław Centenary Hall is an exhibition-sports complex, situated in the Szczytnicki Park. It was designed by Max Berg, In 2006 it was entered onto the UNESCO world heritage list. Near the Hall, amongst the greenery, one can relax from the urban bustle while still being in the very centre of the city
The highest peak in the Karkonosze and the entire Sudety mountain range is Śnieżka, with an elevation of 1602 metres above sea level. Śnieżka is situated on the Polish-Czech border. On the top is the Chapel of St. Lawrence (the patron saint of tour guides) and the Tadeusz Hołdys Mountain Observatory. Reaching the top is a source of satisfaction for every mountain lover.
One of the most beautiful towns in the province is Kłodzko. Here is the Kłodzko Fortress from the 17th and 18th century. This is one of the best preserved fortifications in Poland. The complex comprises the Main Fortress, the back-up fort on Owcza Góra, partly preserved town fortifications and field defensive works. This is a unique place so a must to see when in Kłodzko.
Two eminent representatives of the Polish stage are connected with Wrocław - Jerzy Grotowski and Tadeusz Różewicz. Jerzy Grotowski was an excellent teacher and creator of acting methods. Grotowski ranked among the greatest reformers of twentieth-century theatre. He was born in Rzeszów in 1939, and was subsequently associated with Cracow, Opole, and finally Wrocław, where he ran Teatr Laboratorium. In his work he emphasised the right of the director to interfere in a text, as well as concentrating on the role of the actor, his interactions with the audience. He tried to discover an actor’s universal gestures and movements, which resulted in the creation of ritual plays. In 2009, on the 10th anniversary of his death and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the 13-Rows Theatre, UNESCO proclaimed the Year of Jerzy Grotowski. Tadeusz Różewicz – Polish poet, dramatist, prose writer and scriptwriter. He was born in 1921 in Radomsko and died in 2014 in Wrocław. In poetry he represented the avant-garde, while creating for the theatre a separate conception. His Kartoteka [The Card Index] is considered to be the first Polish example of the theatre of the absurd. His works are still performed in Poland and abroad, which shows his universality and timelessness.
Wrocław Zoo is the oldest zoological gardens in Poland. It was opened in 1865. The Zoo covers 33 hectares and has 12,000 animals. The Zoo’s attractions are the Africarium and Oceanarium. It was here that the popular Polish nature programme With a camera amongst the animals was recorded.


The castle located at Moszna has 365 rooms and 99 towers. This exceptional piece of architecture draws crowds of tourists to Moszna every year. And an array of attractions await them: the baroque, neo-renaissance and neo-gothic wings of the castle, concerts of chamber music, the art gallery and two-hundred hectare park in which grow oaks of over three-hundred-year old and an unusual collection of azaleas (rhododendrons), which is why in May and June is organised the Flowering Azalea Festival. The castle in Moszna ever since the appearance of Harry Potter has been keenly compared to Hogwart.
The Jura Park in Krasiejów is also referred to as DinoPark. There are so many attractions here that it is easier to say what there isn’t than what there actually is. For certain there’s no room for boredom. Here one can visit the paleontologic museum combined with a entertainment park situated in a still used paleontologic excavation site. We also have a time tunnel, a paleontologic trail, a children’s play area, The 5 D Emotion Cinema, the Prehistoric Oceanarium, replica prehistoric animals (e.g., dinosaurs) and an interactive evolution park.
St Anne’s Hill – such is the name of a village and hill in the Opole administrative province. It is a historic place where an important battle was played out during the 3rd Silesian Uprising, as well as being a place of religious cult – on St Anne’s Hill are to be found a basilica and sanctuary, a Franciscan monastery, a grotto modelled on that at Lourdes as well as 40 Calvary chapels from the beginning of the 18th century; in the 15th century a monastery and church were constructed which were to become from the 18th century onwards an important centre for pilgrimage. St. Anne’s Hill also has a nature reserve – amongst the species to be encountered are adders, smooth snakes and slowworms.
The market square in Opole was laid out in the Middle Ages. Initially all the houses were wooden but the constant threat of fires led to the erection of stone town houses. The Oder River flows through Opole. Not everyone knows that in 1600, during one of the great floods, the river changed its course. The old river bed of the Oder is the present day channel Młynówka {Mill Way] - the name comes from the mills that lined its bank, both the castle and municipal, supplying the city with flour. Build on the former defensive walls, just above Młynówka, were tenements and granaries. They look as if they are soaking their feet in the water. When one looks at them from the side of the old river port, from Piastowska Street, they give the illusion of Venice. Recently Opole’s Venice has been beautifully illuminated by an array of coloured lights. These illuminations in the colours of the rainbow underline the beautiful architectural details that embellish the houses and bridges.
The Avenue of the Stars of Polish Song
The Avenue is situated between the town hall and the houses on the eastern side of the Market Square. The idea for an avenue came about in 2004. The performers and writers of the best Polish songs have their stars here. At the present moment (2015) 43 stars are to be found in the Avenue of the Stars of Polish Song, which is situated close to the entrance to the town hall. Since 1963 the National Festival of Polish Song is held in Opole.
Otmuchów gained fame thanks to the ‘Otmuchów Summer of Flowers’ organised in 1973. Here come flower growers from Poland and abroad together with tourists residing in the vicinity of the lakes of Otmuchów and Nyski. Every year it is opened by a flower pageant. Here are exhibits of cut flowers, potted flowering plants and decorative shrubs along with several dozen accompanying exhibits – on show in the chambers of the 13th-century Otmuchów Castle and at open air sites in the town.
Byczyna is a small town in the Opole province. Its popularity comes from the jousting tournaments held there. These are organised twice a year: in May and in September. The tournaments are held in a newly built knights’ town stylised on medieval Ostrów. This wooden construction is a world class sensation. It is the biggest tourist attraction of the region.
The Nyski Reservoir is an artificial lake, which was created on the River Nysa Kłodzka in 1971. It is situated in the vicinity of the town of Nysa. A sizeable area of the Nysa parish was flooded, chiefly forest, but also evacuated villages. The Nyski Lake and Lake Otmuchów are popular recreational spots for the inhabitants of the province as well as for tourists from elsewhere, for whom an attractive tourist infrastructure has been developed (beaches, yacht moorings and jetties, accommodation and gastronomic establishments).


Wisła is a small mountain tourist resort and well known ski centre. Here are numerous ski lifts and cross-country tracks, as well as two ski jumps, where the Polish national ski jump team train. The ski jump at Wiśla Malinka carries the name of Adam Małysz, the several time Olympic medallist and one of the most decorated ski jumpers in the history of the sport. Adam Małysz’s success resulted in a growth in interest in ski jumping in Poland and the appearance of so-called ‘Małyszmania.’ In 2011 Małysz ended his ski jumping career and started another as a car rally driver.
Żywiec is known first and foremost for its beer, which has been produced in the town since the Middle Ages. Its situation near to Lake Żywiec and the close by winter skiing resorts of Szczyrk, Korbielów and Zwardoń, has meant that Żywiec is also a popular tourist destination. The town’s historic buildings include: The Old Castle (home of the Municipal Museum), the New Castle, the Castle Park and the neo-renaissance buildings of the Żywiec Brewery.
Mount Żar is a paradise for enthusiasts of paragliding. This Beskid peak is at a height of 761 metres above sea level. In 1936 at the foot of the mountain the ‘Mount Żar’ Mountain Gliding School was founded.
After the Second World War the city of Bielsko-Biała was the largest centre for the automobile, textile and electromechanical industries, and following Poland accession to the European Union it was to again experience a booming in trade and industry, meaning that at present Bielsko Biała is seen as one of the best economically developing cities in Poland. Its tourist attractions include: The Sułkowski Ducal Castle of the 13th century, the Lipnicki Palace, the Technology and Textiles Museum, the Automobile Museum as well as the Animated Film Studio where the most popular children’s film and television programmes were produced including Bolek and Lolek and Reksio.
The most recognisable feature of Katowice is Spodek, the sport and entertainment hall whose shape recalls from the outside a flying saucer. Major sporting events, concerts and academic conferences take place within its UFO walls.
The capital of the province of Silesia is Katowice, which in 2015 celebrated 150 years of its existence. This is an important economic centre, whose beginnings lay in the mining industry (coal) and heavy industry. Katowice is the centre of mining culture, which though the most important does not detract from Katowice being also an important academic and cultural centre – here operate 20 institutions of tertiary education including the best Music Academy in the country. The Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra is based in Katowice and the new concert hall is considered to be the best in Europe. Famous historic sites in Katowice include Nikiszowiec – a working class mining estate, now entered into the list of historic monuments.
The Błędowska Desert is the largest area of sand in Poland, according to legend it arose out of the sands scattered by a devil who wanted in this way to fill up a silver mine. Formerly mirages could be seen in the Błędowska Desert while today it is the territory of foot and horse treks.
The sanctuary in Częstochowa is one of the most important Marian sanctuaries in the world. In the Jasna Góra Monastery is the image of the Holy Mary brought to Poland in 1328. In 1430, during the Easter celebrations, a band of plunderers broke into the chapel, threw the icon to the floor and slashed with a sabre the face of Mary. The picture was restored and once again hung on Jasna Góra. To this day many pilgrims come on foot even hundreds of kilometres to pay homage to the Holy Mary. Częstochowa is the spiritual and religious capital of Poland. Annually the sanctuary is visited by around five million from Poland and abroad.
The traditional dish of the region are Silesian dumplings. These are made out of boiled potatoes and potato flour. The dumpling is shaped into a small sphere and indented with the thumb to form a well. They are most frequently served with a meat sauce or fried pork rind.


Apparently the oldest oak in Poland is the Bartek Oak – it being almost 600 years old! The circumference of the trunk is around 10 meters. Since 1954 Bartek is a monument of nature.
The figure of Henryk Sienkiewicz, the eminent 19th and 20th century novelist, is strongly connected with the region of the Holy Cross Mountains. The author of works such as ‘The Trilogy,’ ‘Quo vadis’ or ‘In Desert and Wilderness,’ he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1905 for his collected output. The Henryk Sienkiewicz Museum at Olęgorek was founded on the initiative of the writer’s children. In the museum one may see a reconstruction of the rooms in which the writer lived and wrote.
One of the most beautiful caves in Poland is to be found in the Holy Cross Mountains, quite near to Kielce. It was discovered entirely by accident in 1963 by inhabitants of a nearby village. The first geologists to enter its treasures were left speechless in awe – for the inside revealed a treasure trove of dripstones and for this reason it was given the name ‘paradise.’
The manor house at Nagłowice was built around 1800. Here is housed the Mikołaj Rej Museum – a Polish renaissance writer compared to Erasmus of Amsterdam. Rej was to spend most of his life in Nagłowice. To this day grow the oaks he planted there. The manor house contains, in addition to the museum, a tourist information point; rooms for the night can also be booked.
Matołek the Goat [lit. The Half-wit Goat] is known to all Polish children. This cartoon character is always on its way to Pacanów, where, allegedly, goats are shoed. The story was thought up in 1933; with the author of the illustrations being Marian Walentynowicz with Kornel Makuszyński providing the storyline. In Pancanów – the place the goat always intended to reach, is to be found the European Centre for Fairy Tales.
The Kielce region is rich in tradition and monuments. Here are numerous nature reserves. The capital of the Holy Cross Mountains region is Kielce. From the founding of the settlement in the 11th century up until the 18th century Kielce was the private property of the bishops of Cracow. Even today one can visit the Bishop’s Palace in the city. It is also worth visiting the Market Square and the cathedral. In visiting this region is it well worth seeing the small though highly beautiful town of Sandomierz.


The stork is the large bird usually associated with Poland. It is basically white with black feathers on its wings. There are also black storks though these are much rarer. The adult birds have long red legs and long red beaks, and on average measure 100-115 cm. The White Stork migrates every year to distant Africa, where it spends the winter. It returns to Poland for the summer. This distinctive bird gave the origins to many a story, the most well-known being the tale about children being brought by the stork.
It is difficult these days to believe that the territory of Poland and neighbouring countries was once covered in forest, which slowly gave way to agricultural land, villages and towns. The Białowieska Forest is the last piece of primeval forest in Europe, and where the kings of Poland went hunting for bison, bears and aurochs. Unfortunately the aurochs died out a long time ago, while the last bison to be living in the wild was killed by poachers in 1919. Luckily a certain number of these creatures were kept in zoological gardens; from amongst which 12 were chosen and breeding began. Thanks to which one can meet the ‘king of the forest’ in Białowieska. All bison born in Polish nature reserves are given names beginning with the syllable ‘po’ (signifying Poland), for example Pomruk or Poranek
The river valley of the Biebrza River is one of the wildest and least populated areas in Poland. This is the kingdom of birds and beasts. Here live the only elk in Poland; over 250 species of bird: geese, cranes, ducks, while the very name of the river comes from the beavers that have inhabited its length for centuries. The majority of this territory is under protection and is within the boundaries of the Biebrza National Park. As a result of its exceptional natural beauty the river is a popular place for kayaking. With this in mind a 135 km water route has been established, while on the banks are prepared campsites and viewing points.
The Białystok Country Museum is an open air museum where one may see historic wooden architecture and ethnographic collections from the region. It is located in the village of Osowicze. At the Country Museum one may see windmills, smithies, a forester’s lodge, a Byelorussian cottage and gentry manor house.
The Augustów Canal is a waterway linking tributaries of the Vistula River with the Baltic. It is a part of the so-called Batory Trial. Since 2007 it has been a monument of history. The canal’s length is 101 km, of which 82 are within Polish territory. The Canal is also a tourist attraction: annually around 100,000 passengers are transported by the boats of Augustów Navigation on a series of routes including the popular Papal Route (taken on 9th of June 1999 by Pope John Paul II).
The capital of Podlasie is Białystok. It lies on the River Biała, in an area that goes under the name of the green lungs of Poland: around 32% of its area is covered by green terrain parks and squares as well as forest found within the city boundaries creating a specific and healthy microclimate. In the very centre of the city is the former Branicki Palace known as the Versailles of Podlasie. The Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit draws attention: this being the largest Orthodox church in Poland, with its characteristic five domes. Białystok is inhabited by numerically well-represented minorities: Byelorussians, Russians, Tatars, the Romany and Ukrainians.


Zamość is a beautiful renaissance town built entirely from scratch on the orders of the 16th-century magnate and politician Jan Zamoyski. He employed the famed Italian architect Bernardo Morano to plan a town in the renaissance style. A remarkable example of this style is the town hall building and the surrounding town houses that line the Market Square; here resided the richest of the town’s inhabitants. These were not only Poles but also Armenians, Greeks and Jews. It is also well worth visiting the palace and the Zamość Academy also founded and funded by Jan Zamoyski.
Lublin is the largest Polish city to the east of the Vistula River. Any sightseeing of the city has to take in the Castle, the City Gate, the Cracow Gate and the defensive walls with its Gothic Tower. From the top of the Trinitarian Tower opens out a spectacular view of the city – this being the tallest construction in Lublin. One can become acquainted with the history of Lublin at its peak in the multimedia museum that operates from the Fortuna Cellars located underground in one of the town houses in the Market Square.
The ‘Wygoda’ horse stud at Janów Podlaski has been a successful undertaking since the first half of the 19th century. This is the oldest and the most beautiful of Arab stubs. Here one may visit the historic stables, which were build at the very beginning of the stud’s existence. Here are held auctions and horse shows, though one can also go for a ride in the saddle or in a trap.
The spa town of Nałęczów is situated in the Kazimierski Nature Park. The town’s location is conducive to a lowering in blood pressure and aids the treatment of heart complaints. Amongst those who came for convalescence and to take the waters are a host of Polish literary figures including Stefan Żeromski, Bolesław Prus and Henryk Sienkiewicz. The town also boasts the Spa Park, which has been in existence since the mid 18th century.
When visiting the Lublin area one ought to visit the former Nazi death camp at Majdanek. Majdanek, during the German occupation, was the second largest concentration camp after Auschwitz on Polish territory. Around 150,000 people, mainly Jews and Poles, were to pass through the camp of which 80,000 died here – in the gas chambers, from starvation, disease and exhaustion. The museum, situated within its grounds, allows one to see the former camp buildings (the detention barracks, crematorium, watch towers, museum exhibits), the mausoleum and the imposing Monument to Struggle and Martyrdom.
In the south-east of Poland is to be found Roztocze – a picturesque land of forests, crisscrossed with cycle ways and footpaths all awaiting the visitor. Here one may also kayak or practice other water sports. The specific climate, rich flora and fauna lend themselves to active forms of relaxation in the open.


In the south-east of Poland stretch the wildest of Poland’s hills and mountains – the Bieszczady. They are situated within the territories of Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia. The highest peak on the Polish side is Tarnica (1 346 m above sea level). It is in the Beszczady that one can come across plants and animals not met elsewhere in Poland, for example the European Aesculapian snake. There are equally deer, bears, lynx and since 2007 also Koniks. The Bieszczady contains numerous trails on which one can admire old Orthodox churches, chapels or what remains of former villages. The Bieszczady offer excellent hiking, riding and cycling possibilities, with skiing popular in the winter. The most popular places in the Bieszczady are Myczkowce, Solina, Polańczyk and Ustrzyki
When in the charming town of Sanok one should for certain visit the open air museum, which is Poland’s first and largest ethnographic museum in terms of the number of exhibits. The open air museum was opened in 1958. It covers an area of 38 hectares and is open all year round. In the ethnographic park one may see architectural objects, furniture, indoor equipment, agricultural machines, porcelain, clocks, glass, collections of paintings , unique icon collections and folk costumes from all ethnographic groups. The extensive collections and its attractive location on the banks of the San River means that the museum is one of the most beautiful open air museums in Europe.
The history of the Royal Castle in Sanok goes back to the Middle Ages. At present it houses the History Museum. In 2012 a gallery was opened here exhibiting the works of Zdzisław Beksiński one of the most eminent of contemporary Polish painters. At present the museum has over 20,000 exhibits in its collections with the most valuable being one of the most beautiful collections of Orthodox art with icons (the oldest being from the 15th/16th century) and liturgical items in Poland, a collection of Pokuttya ceramics, together with several hundred paintings.
The artist Zdzisław Beksiński was associated with the Podkarpacie region. He was born in 1929 in Sanok and died in 2005 in Warsaw. He was as equally a painter as he was a graphic artist, sculptor, photographer and draughtsman. A characteristic feature of his pictures was that he never gave them titles, for it was his view that everyone who looked at them could interpret what they saw in their own way. Dominant in his pictures are the themes of fantasy, mystery, a highly menacing atmosphere. In 2001 Beksiński bequeathed the whole of his work to the Sanok History Museum – in total several thousand pictures, pieces of sculpture, drawings and graphic works. One of the attractions of the Beksiński Gallery is undoubtedly the reconstruction of the artist’s studio. It follows to add that Zdzisław Beksiński is the only European whose work has constituted a permanent exposition at the Museum of Art in Osaka (Japan).
The Museum of Bedtime Cartoons in Rzeszów was opened in 2009. Here one can see items associated with popular Polish bedtime cartoons, toys, posters, books and the original puppets used in well-known productions such as Miś Uszatek [Teddy Floppy -ear] and Miś Colargol [Colargol the Bear]
In Łańcut is the Castle of the Lubomirski and Potocki Families. At present it is one of the most beautiful aristocratic residences in Poland, which is famed for its elegant interiors, its varied collections of painting and graphic art, its collection of ecclesiastical art, its furniture, porcelain, glass, collection of silver, musical instruments, fabrics and extensive library.
Lake Solina is one of the most popular places in southern Poland to sail, kayak or relax on a summer day.
Autosan is the name of one of the biggest factories in Poland producing buses and coaches. Its full name is Sanocka Fabryka Autobusów [Sanok Bus Works]. An interesting fact is that in 1955, after finishing his art degree, Zdzisław Beksiński took up employment here in the factory’s design studio, and as a stylist took part in the designing of bus prototypes. At present the factory is experiencing financial difficulties.


In the north-east corner of the Cracow Market Square is the Church of St. Mary’s, crowned by two towers. Every hour from the taller of the towers a bugler is heard playing to the four sides of the world. This is the Cracow hejnał. The history of the church goes back to the 14th century. The church, built in a Gothic style, has over the years undergone major changes. The interiors contain many works of art, for example the sculptured altar by Wit Stworz, the stained glass from the designs of Stanisław Wyspiański and Józef Mehoffer, as well as the polychromy from the brush of Jana Matejko. The Church of St. Mary is, next to Wawel Cathedral, the Dominican Monastery, the Franciscan Church and the especially beautiful baroque church of St. Peter and Paul, one of the most important churches in Cracow. All of the mentioned churches can be visited while walking along Grodzka Street: from the Market Square to Wawel Hill.
Situated on Wawel Hill, overlooking the Vistula River, is the Royal Castle, which was the seat of Polish kings from the legendary King Krak through to the reign of Zygmunta III Waza, who eventually moved with his court to Warsaw at the end of the 16th century. Next to the Castle is the cathedral, in which one may visit the tombs of Polish kings and those deemed to have served Poland well. Wawel Hill is a symbol of Polishness and a compulsory point to visit for anyone sightseeing in Cracow.
The Cloth Hall is a historic building in the very centre of the Cracow Market Square. The Cloth Hall itself was reconstructed many times but it was always connected with trade. Nowadays one can buy here an array of souvenirs, handmade gifts and folk products. On the first floor is the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art with an exceptional collection of paintings; while under the Cloth Hall is the modern museum ‘Rynek Underground,’ where an unusual multimedia journey takes you through the oldest history of Cracow and environs.
The Jagiellonian University in Krakow (often shortened to UJ) is the oldest university in Poland and one of the oldest universities in the world. It was founded in 1364 by Casimir the Great. Year by year JU is positioned as the best Polish university among the world's top 500 and as the best Polish higher-level institution. Today with almost 50 thousands Polish students and over 2,500 foreign students attending, it is also an important leader in international programmes taught in English in Europe. JU is the most prestigious university in Poland, whose alumni include Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II. It is important to visit museum Collegium Maius and Collegium Novum – the main university building.
One cannot come to Cracow and not eat an obwarzanek. This is a circular bake, which can be bought just about everywhere. At present one can choose between different types: with poppy seeds, with sesame seeds, or with salt. Another name for obwarzanek is pretzel.
Not far from Cracow is one of the most picturesque corners of Poland. Amongst the beech and oaks one can find numerous caves and singular standing stones of the most extraordinary shapes, like for example Hercules’ Club, Saint-John’s Wort or the Cracow Gate. Legend has it that Hercules’ Club was placed there by the Devil at the request of Twardowski and that only thanks to that is it still able to maintain its vertical position despite its untypical shape.
At a distance of about 100 km from Cracow, in the very heart of the Tatry Mountains is the small town of Zakopane. Zakopane is known as the ‘winter capital of Poland’ as a result of the numerous winter sports practiced here. However, there is no lack of tourists and mountain enthusiasts throughout the whole year. Towards the end of the 19th century Zakopane had become a cultural and literary centre, attracting many artists, poets and writers. Traces of their presence are still discernible today. Zakopane is also the cradle of a unique architectural style, which can be admired across the town (so-called Zakopane huts) and at museum branches. Its main creator was Stanisław Witkiewicz – the father of Witkacy.
The Tatry mountains are the highest mountains in Poland. Every year they are visited by many tourists keen to ascend Rysy (the highest peak in Poland at 2503 m above sea level) or Giewont, see Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw or to take the cable car to Kasprowy Wierch.
The Wawel Dragon is one of Cracow’s oldest inhabitants. Under the rule of the legendary king Krak it lived in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill, and terrorised Cracovians. According to legend many a knight tried to kill the dragon but success was to come only to an impoverished cobbler, who fed the dragon sulphur hidden in sheep fleeces. As a reward the cobbler married the king’s daughter. To this day the dragon’s lair lies beneath Wawel, and may be visited by tourists.
Nowa Huta is the youngest of Cracow’s districts. Construction work commenced in 1949, after Poland had fallen under the influence of the USSR. It was planned to be an ideal town, one to proudly represent the Polish People’s Republic in the world. However, from the very start opposition towards the new political system was a feature of life in Nowa Huta. Nowa Huta is an exceptional example of socialist realism in architecture. It is also worthwhile acquainting oneself with the difficult history of the district as well as visiting the places where the actual events took place.
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School of Polish Language and Culture of the Jagiellonian University