Polish cities worth visiting
Poland is a large European country but not very well known by European people. Many foreign tourists who spend their holidays in Poland appreciate the natural landscapes of the Baltic Sea coastline, Masuria and the historical cities of Poland. Warsaw and Krakow are the major Polish cities; Warsaw as the capital city since 1596 and Krakow as the oldest royal city upon the Vistula river.
Polish cities have traditional main square with small cafes, restaurants, and clubs. They are renovated and lovely, calm or full of life. Although population of Poland in over 38 million people, the whole country has been full of wild places free of traffic and people. There are towns where you can buy a dinner for 3€ in the restaurant while 0.5l of beer in a pub costs 1€. Poland is a place where everyone can find something interesting.
What you must know about Warsaw?
Warsaw (Warszawa) has been the capital city of Poland for over 400 years. This Polish city upon the Vistula River is the cultural, economic and the political centre of the country, where modern skyscrapers meet the ubiquitous traces of the past.
Warsaw is an important economic hub in Central 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 World War II, during which 85% of its buildings were destroyed. On 9 November 1940 the city was awarded Poland’s highest military decoration for heroism, the Virtuti Militari, for the Siege of Warsaw (1939).
Warsaw is the source for naming entities such as 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. The Old Town of Warsaw is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most representative of the Old Town is the big triangle shaped castle square- the Old Market Square.
The largest park – Lazienki in Aleje Ujazdowskie from the 18th century, made in the English style around the Palace on the Water in the former animal enclosure. I highly recommend the Warsaw Botanic Garden owned by the University since 1818. Roof top garden of the Warsaw University Library is a stunning place to visit. The building was inaugurated on 15th December 1999 and consists of a four floor main block and a low front building with an intermediate passage. There was a botanical garden with an area of 1.5 ha created on the roof.
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Sights in Cracow – Your journey to the cultural capital of Poland
Cracow (Kraków) is one of the top attractions in Poland and is home to the second oldest university in Central Europe. The city developed into an industrial, scientific and cultural centre. A variety of buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and later periods constitute the hallmark of the old city that was the capital of Poland until 1596. Cracow is Poland’s third largest city and a European cultural centre; it remains one of the most favourite tourist destinations in Central and Eastern Europe.
The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland’s second most important city. It began as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and was already being reported as a busy trading centre of Slavonic Europe in 965. With the establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic in 1918 and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic centre. 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 World War II, 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. Also that year, UNESCO approved the first ever sites for its new World Heritage List, including the entire Old Town in inscribing Cracow’s Historic Centre. Kraków is classified as a global city by GaWC, with the ranking of High sufficiency.
St. Mary’s Church in Cracow’s Main Market Square leads the tour of the old town. You cross the inner ring road around the Old Town and stand in front of the Barbican, which is regarded as Europe’s largest gothic tower. When you go further, you’ll approach the remains of the city walls with the Florian Gate.
Wawel is the former residence of Polish kings in Krakow. The castle is on a hill (228 m above sea level) on the Vistula River.
“Wieliczka” salt mine is one of the most valuable monuments of material culture in Poland and is visited each year by over a million visitors from all over the world.
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Places of interest in Poznan – Your journey to the capital of Greater Poland
Poznan (Poznań), the town in western Poland flourished in the 16th century and was one of the most important commercial centres of Poland. Today the city is a magnet for young successful people, looking for study and career opportunities. While strolling through the streets of the city you’ll find many small bars, clubs and pubs.
Poznań is now Poland’s fifth 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 today one of the largest Polish centers of trade, industry, sports, education, tourism and culture. More recently it also claims to be an important design center as a number of initiatives were undertaken: “Concordia Design”, “Poznan School of Form”, “Art&Fashion Festival” to mention only a few. Poznań is also becoming a know-how hub with many technological parks and transfer of knowledge centers (the oldest one started in 1995 is “Poznan Science and Technology Park”.
The city hosts regular international trade fairs and 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 one of the host cities for the association football tournament UEFA Euro 2012. The city also hosts a number of rowing world cup events by the Malta lake (for example “ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships” in 1990, 2001, and again in 2010). Also, a great number of various international festivals takes place in the city – Transatlantyk – Poznań International Film and Music Festival, “Malta International Theater Festival” and “Maski Festival” to name just a few.
The Old Town Hall and Old Market Square on the Royal-Imperial Route are the main attractions of the city of Poznan. This historical route takes you to places associated with kings and great emperors from the past. It passes through valuable historic sites and greatly displays the urban and cultural development of the city.
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Places of interest in Gdansk – The Pearl of the Baltic Sea
Gdansk (Gdańsk) is a seaport and a former Hanseatic city. It has around half a million inhabitants now. Gadnsk, together with the neighbouring cities of Sopot and Gdynia, form a metropolitan area called the Tricity with a population of around 750,000 people. Gdansk is one of the most popular holiday destinations of the Baltic coast in Poland thanks to its wide white sandy beaches and stunning historical sites to visit.
Gdańsk is the historical capital of Pomerania and the largest city of Kashubia. 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 Lech Wałęsa, played a major role in bringing an end to Communist rule across Central Europe.
The Długa Street and Long Market, forming the Royal Route, are among the most beautiful streets in Gdansk. They run perpendicular to Motlawa River from the Golden to the Green Gate.
The Oliwa Park- The Oliwa Park charms with its beautiful nature of more or less regular shapes.
Sopot pier (Molo) – One of the most famous Polish venues for public events and recreation and the longest pier in Poland – the landmark of Sopot.
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Places of interest in Wroclaw – Metropolis upon the Oder
Wroclaw (Wrocław) is the capital of the historical region of Silesia and one of the most beautiful Polish cities. The mixture of many religions and cultures has strongly affected its character. In the major city there are 112 bridges on the Oder river that connect the twelve islands on which Wroclaw was built.
At various times it has been part of the Kingdom of Poland, Bohemia, the Austrian Empire, Prussia, and Germany; it has been part of Poland since 1945, as a result of border changes after World War II. Its population in 2011 is 631,235, making it the fourth largest city in Poland.
Wrocław was the host of EuroBasket 1963, FIBA EuroBasket 2009, and UEFA Euro 2012; it will host the 2014 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship and, in 2017, the World Games, a competition in 37 non-olympic sport disciplines. The city has been selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2016.
The Old Town – The medieval Market Square is now the heart of a pedestrian zone filled with romantic cafes and restaurants.
Ostrow Tumski is the oldest part of Wroclaw, where Slavic stronghold was established in the 9th and 10th centuries. It is also known as the Cathedral Island but is actually not an island any more since a part of the river was filled in in the 19th century.
The Botanical Garden with the botanical museum and a zoological garden founded in 1862 on the grounds of the University of Wroclaw.
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