The geometrical center of Europe is located near the Polish capital, Warsaw. For over a thousand years, Poland changed multiple times: from a European power, through lost independence to emerging as the economic pioneer of Central and Eastern Europe. Polish enthusiasm, creativity and entrepreneurship potential are widely known throughout the world today. Thanks to the determination of Poles, their Solidarity, and the spiritual authority of Saint Pope John Paul II, Poland got out of the communist regime depression and has since 1989 been a free country whose rich customs and traditions attract millions of tourists from all around the world.
Arts and culture have for centuries been strengthening the Polish national identity and in the past helped the Poles survive the worst moments in history. Polish artists have been inspiring the world. Poland was the birthplace of one of the greatest composers and pianists Fryderyk Chopin. One of the world’s most important music competitions is dedicated to his music – The Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition has been held in Warsaw every five years since 1927.
Poland has been home to Nobel Prize laureates, Oscar winners and Grammy Awards recipients.
Thanks to the winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, like Wisława Szymborska, Czesław Miłosz and Olga Tokarczuk, Poland has been enjoying a reputation as the land of poets and writers. The sound of Polish, the language used by over 40 million people in Poland and abroad, contributed to the development of the Polish literary tradition. Polish was the language of Andrzej Wajda films, for which he received prestigious awards, including the Honorary Oscar for his lifetime achievements. Polish was also the mother tongue of Krzysztof Penderecki, an outstanding composer and a four-time Grammy Award winner.
Poland is a country of people with ideas. Poles take pride in their scientists whose important discoveries and inventions changed the world. Maria Skłodowska-Curie, a native of Warsaw, is considered to have been the scholar 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 admitted to the 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 with the help of computers, tablets, mobile phones, digital cameras, mp3 players and other electronic devices. Polish mathematicians: Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski broke the codes of the Enigma, the most infamous German cipher machine, contributing to bringing World War II to an end.
Located between the Baltic Sea and Masurian lakes in the north and the mountain ranges in the south, with the lowlands in the central part of the country, Poland is an attractive country rich in nature. Boasting 23 national parks, 145 landscape parks and 1,500 nature reserves, Poland encourages active recreation, with hiking, cycling, rafting, river and lake canoeing, sailing, surfing, or horse-riding on one of the longest trails in Europe spanning 1800 km and running through the center of the country. It also makes for a great place to observe rare species of birds in their natural habitat.
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 in 2015 the prestigious European Union’s architecture prize: the 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 and the European Solidarity Centre, both
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 cares for the rebirth of what was lost. 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 during the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music. 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.
There are countless reasons to come and see what Poland is really like.
More about Poland:
The latest news from Poland in various languages – Polish Radio for Foreigners