Poland’s modern architecture, great museums, rich wildlife, tasty cuisine and a wide range of leisure, recreational and cultural activities, including for children, should make you want to visit Poland once the lockdown is over. So, for now, discover Poland online and start planning your trip!
The geometrical center of Europe is located near Poland’s capital, Warsaw. Throughout its history, Poland has gone from a major European power, through lost independence to re-emergence as a regional economic pioneer of Central and Eastern Europe. Polish enthusiasm, creativity and entrepreneurship are widely known across the world today. Thanks to our determination, Solidarity, and the spiritual guidance of Saint Pope John Paul II, after almost 50 years of communism, Poland broke free from foreign political control and economic influence, and set on a path to freedom in 1989. It is now a country whose rich customs and traditions attract millions of tourists from all over the world.
Arts and culture have for centuries been strengthening the Polish national identity and helped Poles survive the worst moments in history. Polish musicians have and continue to inspire the world. Poland is the birthplace of one of the greatest composers and pianists Fryderyk Chopin, and one of the world’s most important music competitions dedicated to his music – The Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition has been held in Warsaw every five years since 1927. Other famous composers include Stanisław Moniuszko, Ignacy Paderewski, Witold Lutosławski, Mikołaj Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki, a four-time Grammy Award winner. Explore Penderecki’s Digital Garden inspired by his music! Stanisław Moniuszko, who whose 200th birth anniversary was celebrated in 2019, is considered the father of Polish opera. Nowadays Performances by the Polish National Opera are staged worldwide while Polish singers such as Aleksandra Kurzak, Piotr Beczała and Jakub Józef Orliński perform in the world’s major opera houses, from New York’s Metropolitan Opera through London’s Royal Opera House to Milan’s La Scala.
Poland is home to Nobel Prize laureates and Oscar winners. Thanks to the winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Władysław Reymont, Czesław Miłosz, Wisława Szymborska and Olga Tokarczuk, Poland has been enjoying a reputation as the land of poets and writers. Joseph Conrad, Stanisław Lem and Ryszard Kapuściński also made their names abroad. The Polish language, which is actively used by about 50 million people and by at least 10 million who have a passive knowledge of it, is an important element of the Polish literary tradition.
Polish was the language of Andrzej Wajda’s films, for which he received prestigious awards, including the Honorary Oscar for his lifetime achievements. Polish filmmakers excel at home but also make an impact abroad. Internationally recognized Polish film directors include Krzysztof Kieślowski, Agnieszka Holland, Roman Polański and Paweł Pawlikowski awarded an Oscar for “Ida” in 2015. Poland is also renowned for its numerous directors of photography who were involved in the making of some of Hollywood’s top productions. An important place for Polish cinema is the internationally recognized National Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź, which produced some of Poland’s greatest cinematographic talents.
In the pre-war period, Poland was one of the most dynamic centres of avant-garde art in Europe, with artists such as Władysław Strzemiński, Katarzyna Kobro, Henryk Stażewski and Henryk Berlewi. After the second world war, one of the first artists of the new avant-garde was the internationally acclaimed painter and theatre director Tadeusz Kantor. Today, big Polish names in the contemporary art market include Zbigniew Libera, Mirosław Bałka, Paweł Althamer, Wilhelm Sasnal, Katarzyna Kozyra and others. The richest collection of Polish avant-garde art is in the National Museums in Warsaw and Kraków.
Posters of the Polish School of Posters significantly influenced the international development of graphic design in poster art. Their major contribution is due to their use of the power of suggestion through clever allusions. Using strong and vivid colors typical for folk art, they combine printed slogans, often hand-lettered, with popular symbols, to create a concise inventive metaphor. Prominent contributors included Henryk Tomaszewski, Jan Lenica, Jan Młodożeniec and Waldemar Świeży. The Poster Museum in Warsaw houses the largest collection of art posters in the world.
Poland is a country of people with ideas. Poles take pride in their scientists whose important discoveries and inventions changed the world. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), the famous astronomer, who formulated the heliocentric theory, according to which the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not the other way round, was born in Toruń. Maria Skłodowska-Curie, a native of Warsaw, is considered to have been the most important researcher of all time, and has remained until this day the only woman to have been awarded the Nobel Prize twice (in 1903 and 1911), and the only scientist honored in two separate fields of science. She was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize for chemistry, for having discovered polonium and radium, the first woman to have been appointed professor at the Sorbonne University of Paris, and the first woman to have been honoured a full member of the French Medical Academy. Jan Czochralski, a Polish physicist, invented the method of growing single-crystals, which proved to be the basis of modern electronics. Single-crystal silicon obtained through this method helped create semiconductor devices. Thanks to them, we do our work using computers, tablets, mobile phones, digital cameras, mp3 players and other electronic devices. The first crude oil mine worldwide was opened in Poland. It was established in 1854 by Ignacy Łukasiewicz, pharmacist and chemist, in Bóbrka near Krosno. A year before, Łukasiewicz gave a hospital in Lviv a prototype paraffin lamp he had developed to assist with emergency surgeries. This is thought to be the first case of an oil-based product being sold. The mine is still in operation, and within its premises there is a monumental administrative building from which Łukasiewicz managed the process of oil extraction, as well as a Museum of the Oil and Gas Industry. Three brilliant Polish mathematicians Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski broke the codes of the Enigma, the most infamous German cipher machine, thus contributing to Allied victory in World War II.
Located between the Baltic Sea and the Masurian lake district in the north and the mountain ranges in the south, with extensive lowlands in the centre, Poland is an great tourist destination. Boasting 23 national parks, 145 landscape parks and 1,500 nature reserves, Poland is a perfect spot for active recreation, including hiking, cycling, rafting, river and lake canoeing, sailing, surfing and horse-riding. It also makes for a great place to observe rare species of birds in their natural habitat.
For those who love traditional food, Poland offers a huge variety of products to delight their palate. The country has a total of 43 regional specialties which are protected under EU law. The list includes several varieties of cheese and sausage, as well as regional pastries, specially grown beans, honeys, apples and strawberries. Thanks to regional variations and specialties, as well as the heritage of its nobility, Poland has a rich food culture. In the south, where the climate is rougher, the food is based on simple, filling dishes. In Małopolska, you can feel the Austrian influence, and in Podlasie – culinary traditions and flavours from its eastern neighbours. Thanks to the access to the sea, northern Poland is rich in fish dishes of many different forms. Mazowsze, with Warsaw at its heart, is known for its Old Polish cuisine.
Poland has several large cities which are the economic backbone of the country. They are a diverse set with varying histories, but they all offer a wide array of business opportunities and cultural activities. Take for instance Wrocław, referred to sometimes as the Venice of the north, Szczecin, or Paris on the Oder, Zamość, which was established almost 500 years ago, Krakow, Łódź – the city of film, and Katowice – the city of music.
Poland boasts 17 objects on the UNESCO World Remembrance List. Each of the documents and collections is a separate chapter in the history of Poland. For example, the the famous 21 Gdańsk Demands written on wooden plywood. Symbolically, it is the most important “document” from the August 1980 events that played a huge part not only for regaining freedom in Poland, but also on an international scale: as part of the process of overthrowing communism throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
Poland has also sixteen unique places on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. The first sites – Kraków and Wieliczka – were included in 1978, and the newest site – Krzemionki Prehistoric Striped Flint Mining Region – in 2019.
Tourists are attracted to Poland by countless cultural events that include festivals of music, film and theater and hosted by Polish cities, some of them famous for their award winning architecture. Like the beautiful M. Karłowicz’s Philharmonic in Szczecin, awarded the prestigious 2015 Mies van der Rohe Award, or the National Museum in Szczecin – the Dialogue Centre Upheavals, which was named the World Building of the Year in 2016 at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin. Other outstanding public buildings representing world-class architecture in Poland include the Shakespearean Theatre, the European Solidarity Centre and the Museum of World War II, all three in Gdańsk, the Silesian Museum in Katowice built on the site of a former coal mine, the seat of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, and the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music in Lusławice, Cricoteca (Tadeusz Kantor Museum) in Krakow, the Warsaw Rising Museum and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
Visiting these unique cultural landmarks gives an insight into the complex history of Poland and at times into the tragic fate of its people, especially related to the experience of World War II. Poland has been the guardian of memory, protecting the Jewish heritage lost during World War II by supporting the development of the contemporary culture of the Jewish minority in Poland. A flagging example of that support is, among others, the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow which, for more than 30 years, has been the most spectacular interdisciplinary festival of its kind in the world and is visited every year by tens of thousands of tourists.
Poland also attracts music lovers, theater-goers and film buffs. It is a real treat meeting the greatest contemporary music creators and best musicians during the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music, Wratislavia Cantans, Chopin and his Europe, Actus Humanus or Sacrum Profanum. You can meet movie stars and world-renowned cinematographers at the EnergaCAMERIMAGE festival in Toruń, or independent artists from all around during the New Horizons International Film Festival in Wrocław, which presents artistic, visionary and experimental cinema. And there are many more interesting festivals held in Poland.
Poland welcomes the youngest visitors with many attractions. European Fairytale Capital is in Pacanów, Poland! The modern facility resembling sand pies is a magic place where you can meet the Little Prince, see the pea that meant a sleepless night, and set off on a journey by train which goes through the Mouse Hole and … flies into space! Apart from Polish fairytale heroes like Matołek the Billy-goat, who discovered a Fairytale Land in Pacanów, children may enjoy the Bedtime Cartoons Museum in Rzeszów and watch Polish animation for children. Poles love science centers which allow youngsters experience science through experiment. There are several across Poland like: Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw, Science and Technology Centre EC1 in Lodz, Experyment Science Centre in Gdynia, Hewelianum Center in Gdańsk, Mill of Knowledge Innovation Center in Torun, Garden of Experiments in Cracow or Water Knowledge Center Hydropolis in Wrocław.
(Republic of Poland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Foto: Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia), Wrocław, halastulecia.pl