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About Poland


About PolandLocated in the heart of Europe, Poland originated in the mid-10th century and has a rich history of invasions and conquests. Poland's varied landscapes, architectural diversity and rich cultural history set it apart from any other place on earth. Warsaw, the capital city, is the cultural and economic hub of Poland. It has a wide variety of attractions ranging from museums, like the State Archaeological Museum to Lazienki Park, where the annual Chopin festival is held each summer. The park also hosts Warsaw Summer Jazz Days, which attracts world renowned musicians like John Zorn and James Carter. Music is indeed an important element of Polish life and heritage; see the excellent websites about Polish Music and Polish Jazz. There are also many historically significant buildings in Warsaw, here are a few examples.

Royal Castle, Warsaw Old Town, Warsaw

The Royal Castle, one of the most famous castles in Poland, was the ideal model of defense for all other Polish royal castles. The castle was once the seat of Polish kings but now is a museum that displays tapestries, period furniture and art from the 16th and 17th centuries.About Poland

Pawiak Prison, the largest political prison in Poland, was built in the 1830's and used as a Tsarist prison. Pawiak was also used in 1939-1944 during WWII to imprison victims of the Nazi reign. Of the 100,000 prisoners held at Pawiak, only one-third survived. Though the building was partially destroyed in 1944 it has been reconstructed into a memorial and museum displaying drawings, letters and photos from former prisoners.

The National (Narodowe) Museum is a collection of art dating back to ancient times. Some of the collected works include a compilation of rare Egyptian art and the monumental Battle of the Grunwald by Jan Matejko, a symbol of the Polish victory over the Teutonic Knights in 1410.

About PolandThe Jewish Ghetto, where over 400,00 Jews were imprisoned during WWII, is a site that all Warsaw visitors should see. Within the 10-feet high walls are monuments that honor victims of the Jewish Ghetto. Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Jewish Historical Institute Gallery display Jewish art and other memorabilia. Krakow is one of Poland's oldest cities and the only large city that survived architectural inhalation during WWII. It is said that a dragon tormented the city until Prince Gracchus (Krak) poisoned and killed the beast. The city of Krakow, in turn, was named in his honor.

The dragon's fierce image is now enshrined in Wawel Castle along with Flemish and Oriental art, among others. Connected to the castle is Wawel Cathedral, the burial site for many Polish monarchs. You can also climb to the top of the church tower for a fantastic city view.

Wawel Castle, Krakow Poland Cloth Hall

There are many Krakow museums worth seeing; the National and Czartaryski museums and the History Museum of Krakow City should not be missed. Krakow's Rynek Glowny, Europe's largest medieval time square, dates back to 1257. The square hosts numerous cultural festivals throughout the year including the Summer Jazz Festival and the Jewish Cultural Festival. The center of Rynek Glowny, Cloth Hall, is a lively trading center with many markets and cafes full of culinary delights. The Obwarzanki, a circular pretzel with poppy seeds, is a local favorite.

Wroclaw has been passed back and forth from country to country for over 1,000 years. Because of its turbulent past it has a unique history and cultural identity all its own. The past and the present are brought together in Wroclaw, mixing historical museums with modern art galleries.About Poland

Wroclaw's town hall has been the city symbol for over 700 years. It is a classic example of secular Gothic architecture with a baroque and renaissance twist. One unique attraction of Wroclaw's town hall is the renaissance sundial on the east facade, which dates back to 1580. Within Wroclaw's town hall is the Museum of Burgher, a gallery of busts dedicated to the city's most well known residents.

There are more than 100 bridges in Wroclaw; one of the most famous is the Ostrow Tumski Bridge, connecting Ostrow Tumski, the oldest part of Wroclaw to the rest of the city. The Wroclaw Zoological Garden is also a must-see attraction with over 4,000 animals and Eastern Europe's oldest park.

The Panorama Raclawice Battle painting is another sight to see in Wroclaw. The piece is so large, at 1,800 meters (half of a soccer field,) that a building was constructed just to house it. The painting, created by several artists including Jan Styka, Ludwik Boller and Wojciech Kossack, celebrates Poland's victory over the Russian troops.

About PolandTorun, the city of architectural beauty, is home to one of the few authentic Old Towns in Poland, even the town's walls and gates are authentic originals. The city dates back to the 13th century and is considered to be the best preserved gothic town in Poland. There are architectural sights in Torun including St. Catherine's Cathedral and Artus Hall.

Torun is also the birthplace of famous astronomer Copernicus, who discovered that the earth revolves around the sun. The Copernicus museum and home are open to the public. Another delicacy not to be missed is Torun's famous Pierniki (gingerbread) and honey cakes, a popular Polish treat.

Poland is well known for its great architectural and cultural attractions but it also offers a wide-range of outdoor activities. Some of these include kayaking, hiking, skiing and more.

masurian Lakes Bieszczady River

There are a number of mountain ranges in Poland. The Sudety and Tatra mountains in southern Poland can be enjoyed all year round with a number of activities to enjoy like skiing and hiking. The Zakopane, Szczyrk and Karkonosze mountains are more seasonally limited but still offer winter skiing and famous mountain folklore stories. The Bieszczady resort is a favorite of cross-country skiers and is less known than the popular resorts.About Poland

The Mazurian Lakes District, nicknamed "the country of the thousand lakes," is known for its lengthy sail expeditions. The quantity of lakes, rivers and canals at the district make it sailable for days on end. It is also the perfect place for kayaking, fishing and water sports.

Poland's open country is perfect for horseback riding, one highly popular place is the Bialowieza forest. Poland has some of the best horses in the world including Pure Blood Arabs, English Thoroughbreds and Poland's unique Wielkopolski breed. The Wielkopolski is virtually unknown outside Poland but has long been praised for its strong constitution and good blood. The world famous Janow Podlaska Center, located in Poland, rears some of the best breeds in the world including Arabian purebreds.

Poland offers a little something for everyone, from its distinct, well-preserved landscapes to its rich artistic and literary history; Poland is a place to please the outdoorsman and the art buff alike.

N. Johnson



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