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Poland

Main attractions

Market square in Poznań Old Town, Poland
Market square in Poznań Old Town / UggBoy♥UggGirl, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

The treasure of Poland is its architectonic heritage. In spite of terrible wars Poles have persisted and Poland together with its heritage has reborn as a phoenix rising from the ashes. Most guests would be amazed to learn how many beautiful historical buildings are exact replicas, which were rebuilt in times when the life in Poland was not that easy.

Highlights of Poland are:

  • Gothic architecture from brick. The largest castle in the world is located in Poland (Malbork Castle), as well as the third largest brick church in the world (Gdańsk St. Mary's Church). The medieval centre of Toruń has a unique collection of such brick buildings - and there are hundreds of other examples of brick Gothic style in whole country.
  • Renaissance architecture. Poland was a major European centre of Renaissance art and such amazing landmarks as Zamość and Kazimierz Dolny towns, Krasicki Palace and Poznań Town Hall belong to the best examples of this architectural style.
  • Medieval wooden churches. Numerous very old wooden churches are found throughout the country. The oldest ones - such as the unique Haczów Church (1388) - belong to Gothic style.

Natural landmarks

Sokolica mountains rise high above Dunajec, Poland
Sokolica mountains rise high above Dunajec / Kamil Rejczyk, Flickr. CC BY 2.0
  • Błędów Desert - Lesser Poland. Largest sand fields in Central Europe, taking an area of 32 km². Formed by the accumulation of sand particles from glacier.
  • Errant Rocks (Błędne Skały) - Lower Silesia. Amazing labyrinth of sandstone formations with natural arches, caves, hoodoos.
  • Dunajec River Gorge - Lesser Poland and Prešov in Slovakia. Border river between Slovakia and Poland, with up to 300 m tall cliffs in both sides. Here are growing endemic plant species.
  • Wielka Śnieżna Cave - Lesser Poland. The largest and deepest cave in Poland, 23,619 m long and 824 m deep.

Man made landmarks

Prehistorical cult statue in Mount Ślęża, Poland
Prehistorical cult statue in Mount Ślęża / Merlin, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

Archaeological monuments

  • Biskupin - Kuyavia-Pomerania. Archaeological open air museum which demonstrates the fortified Iron Age settlement of Lusatian culture. Settlement was built on marshy peninsula in lake.
  • Kleczanów Forest - Świętokrzyskie. Forest with 37 large kurgans, 4 - 10 m high. Possible sacred forest of ancient Slavs.
  • Krzemionki Opatowskie - Świętokrzyskie. Largest complex of Neolithic - Bronze Age flint mines with some 4000 mine shafts, often connected with underground passages. Several Neolithic paintings.
  • Mount Ślęża - Lower Silesia. Ancient holy site since Neolithic times. Mysterious prehistoric sculptures, possibly made by Celts.
  • Węsiory megaliths - Pomerania. Large group of prehistoric stone circles and burial mounds. Burials of Goths and Gepids from the 1st - 3rd century AD.
Wrocław Market Square, Poland
Wrocław Market Square / Klearchos Kapoutsis, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Historical towns and cities

  • Chełmno Old City - Kuyavia-Pomerania. Town has well preserved medieval centre with numerous historical buildings and almost fully preserved city walls. Five Gothic churches.
  • Chocholow - Lesser Poland. Authentic, historical Gorale village, which consists of characteristic wooden houses.
  • Gdansk Old City - Pomerania. The medieval city centre contains rich collection of Gothic and Renaissance buildings, including the largest brick church in the world, Artus Court, the enormous Town Hall and other buildings.
  • Kazimierz Dolny - Lublin. Small town with numerous Renaissance buildings, some are very ornate.
  • Kraków Old Town - Lesser Poland. One of best preserved medieval cities in Europe with a huge number of valuable historical buildings. Served as a major centre of power, art and science. Contains the largest medieval market square in Europe, surrounded by exquisite historical buildings. Center contains some 6000 valuable buildings, millions of artworks.
  • Kłodzko historical centre - Lower Silesia. Well preserved historical centre of medieval (mainly - Renaissance) city with many valuable buildings. Huge network of underground tunnels under the city, which were built by merchants. Many passages collapsed in the middle of the 20th century, causing much damage to the city. Bridge in Gothic style, which was built in 1390.
  • Paczków Old City - Opole. Medieval town with almost completely conserved double ring of 1.2 km long city walls. Numerous historical buildings including unique fortified church in Gothic style.
  • Poznań Old Town - Greater Poland. Medieval city with many valuable historical buildings, centred around the large market place. Market place is surrounded by interesting Renaissance buildings.
  • Toruń medieval town - Kuyavia-Pomerania. Inhabited since 1100 BC, modern city developed around the castle since the early 13th century. Well preserved medieval town with hundreds of historical buildings, including numerous Gothic buildings from brick. Largest concentration of Gothic architecture in Poland.
  • Wrocław Market Square - Lower Silesia. Beautiful monument of urban planning, large square surrounded by medieval buildings.
  • Zamość - Lublin. Renaissance town, founded in 1580 and built as an ideal town, which has preserved its original planning and architecture up to this day. Surrounded by enormous fortress.
Refectory in Lubiąż Abbey, Poland
Refectory in Lubiąż Abbey / mamnaimie, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Monasteries

  • Abbatia Lubensis (Lubiąż Abbey) - Lower Silesia. The largest Cistercian monastery in the world with 223 metres long Baroque facade, developed since 1150. One of the largest and most ornate Christian religious buildings in the world.
  • Jasna Góra Monastery - Silesia. Major site of pilgrimage: large monastery which was founded in 1382 and housed in ornate, impressive buildings. Here is located Black Madonna of Częstochowa - an image which has miraculous powers attributed to it.
  • Kalwaria Zebrzydowska park - Lesser Poland. One of most impressive examples of Mannerist architecture and planning - a pilgrimage complex with churches and chapels, which in its planning was designed to be similar to Jerusalem. Established in 1600.

Wooden churches

  • Binarowa Church of the Archangel Michael - Podkarpackie. Wooden church, current building constructed around 1500. Adorned with valuable paintings from the 16th and 17th century.
  • Blizne Church of All Saints - Podkarpackie. Wooden church, built in Gothic style before 1470 (?). Contains paintings from 1550 and later times.
  • Chotyniec Church of the Holy Mother of God - Podkarpackie. Wooden church, built in 1617, one of the few active Greek Catholic churches in Poland. Unusual architecture, structure is dominated by two enormous cupolas.
  • Dębno Church of Michael the Archangel - Lesser Poland. One of the best preserved wooden churches in Gothic style, built in the second half of the 15th century. Unique polychrome paintings from around 1500, with 33 colors used.
  • Haczów Church - Podkarpackie. Wooden church in Gothic style, constructed in the late 14th century (1388?). Interior is covered with polychrome paintings from 1494. Largest Gothic wooden church in Europe, oldest wooden church in Poland.
  • Sękowa Church of St. Phillip and St. Jacob - Lesser Poland. One of the most beautiful wooden Gothic churches in Poland, built around 1520. Adorned with Renaissance paintings.
Interior of Kłodzko Church of Assumption, Poland
Interior of Kłodzko Church of Assumption / Klakier, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0 Poland

Other churches

  • Church of Peace in Jawor - Lower Silesia. Enormous timber framed religious building, built in 1655, with enough place to fit 5,500 people. One of three Lutheran churches which were allowed to be built in Silesia under harsh restrictions. 200 interesting paintings inside.
  • Church of Peace in Świdnica - Lower Silesia. The largest timber framed church in Europe, constructed in 1657. 7,500 people can fit inside. Great interior with frescoes.
  • Fara Poznań (Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene in Poznań) - Greater Poland. One of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Poland, built in 1651 - 1732.
  • Gdańsk St. Mary's Church - Pomerania. Third largest brick church in the world, enormous Gothic structure built in 1379 - 1502. 25,000 people can fit inside the church. Very impressive, intricate vault system.
  • St. Mary's Basilica in Kraków - Lesser Poland. Enormous church building, constructed in the 14th century in brick Gothic style. Contains the largest Gothic altarpiece in the world. Two towers, the tallest is 80 m high.
  • Toruń Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist - Kuyavia-Pomerania. Enormous brick Gothic cathedral, constructed mostly in the first half of the 14th century. Richly decorated interior with painted decorations.
  • Wawel Cathedral - Lesser Poland. Large, complex Gothic cathedral, built in the 14th century. Serves as a Polish national sanctuary, historical place where Polish monarchs were coronated. Notable achievement of Renaissance art is Sigismund's Chapel.
  • Wrocław Cathedral - Lower Silesia. Large Gothic cathedral with Neo-Gothic additions. Mostly built in 1244 - 1272, with later rebuildings and additions.
Kwidzyń Castle, Poland
Kwidzyń Castle / Pawel Wojtyczka, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0 Poland

Castles

  • Baranów Sandomierski Castle - Podkarpackie. One of most beautiful Renaissance (Mannerist) style buildings in Poland, built in 1591 - 1606.
  • Chojnik Castle - Lower Silesia. Large fortress - castle on the top of mountain. Built in the 13th - 14th century, partly in ruins.
  • Ciechanów Castle - Masovia. Massive castle, built in the 14th century. Two enormous towers rising over the 10 m tall walls.
  • Czocha Castle - Lower Silesia. Magnificent hilltop castle, stone castle built in 1329 and rebuilt and extended several times since then.
  • Gniew Castle - Pomerania. Well preserved and large castle, constructed in brick Gothic style after 1290.
  • Krasicki Palace - Podkarpackie. Large, ornate castle in Renaissance style, built in 1580 - 1633. This magnificent building has been preserved without major changes.
  • Książ Castle - Lower Silesia. Massive, well reconstructed medieval castle, built in 1288 - 1292, the largest castle in Silesia. 900 m long network of underground passages in two levels, built by Nazi as secret military facilities and possible headquarters of Hitler.
  • Kwidzyń Castle - Pomerania. Massive castle from the 14th century in brick Gothic style. Impressive detail is the sewer tower, which is connected to the castle with tall bridge. This tower originally was built over the river.
  • Malbork Castle - Pomerania. Largest castle in the world by the area (21 ha), also the largest brick building in Europe. Constructed by Teutonic Knights, mainly in 1274 - 1300 as their administrative centre.
  • Niedzica Castle - Lesser Poland. Magnificent castle rising tall over river. Constructed in 1320 - 1326 in the place of prehistoric stronghold. Site of legends.
  • Ogrodzieniec Castle Ruins - Silesia. Mountaintop castle, built in the 14th century in Gothic style. Now in ruins, these ruins belong to most picturesque castle ruins.
  • Oleśnica Castle - Lower Silesia. Magnificent castle, built in the 13th - 15th century, rebuilt in Late Renaissance style in 1542 - 1616.
  • Wawel Castle - Lesser Poland, Kraków. Enormous royal castle, built since the 14th century in Gothic and Renaissance styles. Contains collection of valuable royal regalia and treasure. Castle served as a model to some other royal castles in this part of Europe.
Moszna Castle, Poland
Moszna Castle / Tomasz2706, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0 Poland

Palaces

  • Krasiński Palace - Masovia, Warsaw. Large, ornate Baroque palace, built in 1677 - 1683.
  • Łazienki Palace - Masovia, Warsaw. Palace in Neo-Classical style, built in 1775 - 1795. Palace is built over water and has interesting, rich interiors.
  • Moszna Castle - Opole. Gorgeous palace. Central part is built in Baroque style in the 17th century, but most impressive are Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaissance additions from the early 20th century - tall, romantic towers and other details.
  • Pszczyna Castle - Silesia. Originally a castle from the 13th century, this building has been rebuilt into an opulent, beautiful palace. A diversity of stylistic influences from different times can be seen, from Renaissance to Art Noveau.
  • Wilanów Palace - Masovia, Warsaw. Enormous, ornate palace, constructed in 1677 - 1696 in Baroque style. Served as royal palace, has very ornate interior and Baroque garden.
Wrocław Town Hall, Poland
Wrocław Town Hall / Südstädter, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 3.0

Town Halls

  • Poznań Town Hall - Greater Poland. Large and ornate building in Late Renaissance (Mannerism) style. Constructed in 1550 - 1560. Interesting detail is a pair of mechanical goats which butt their heads at noon.
  • Toruń Town Hall - Kuyavia-Pomerania. One of most interesting Gothic town halls in Europe, built in the late 14th century.
  • Wrocław Town Hall - Lower Silesia. Large, ornate Gothic building, built mainly in the late 13th - middle of the 16th century.
Aula Leopoldina in Wrocław University, Poland
Aula Leopoldina in Wrocław University / Bazie, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0 Poland

Other man made landmarks

  • Bochnia Salt Mine – Lesser Poland. Oldest salt mine in Europe, established in the 12th – 13th century AD. 4.5 km long mines up to 468 m deep. Contains numerous premises including ornate church.
  • Chełm Chalk Tunnels - Lublin, Chełm. System of mining tunnels in chalk layer under the medieval city of Chełm. Length of network - 15 km, not all passages have been explored.
  • Collegium Maius - Lesser Poland, Kraków. One of the oldest dedicated university buildings in Europe, constructed in 1364 in Gothic style. Well preserved and ornate historical lecture rooms, professor's quarters, library and other premises.
  • Kraków barbican - Lesser Poland. One of few remaining well preserved barbicans in Europe - a fortified outpost, forming a part of city walls. Constructed in Gothic style in 1498.
  • Old Synagogue in Kraków - Lesser Poland. Oldest existing synagogue in Poland, built in Gothic style in the 15th century. Fortified building.
  • Sukiennice in Kraków - Lesser Poland, Kraków. Large Renaissance building - historical market hall where valuable foreign goods were traded. Contains rich collection of Polish art.
  • University of Wrocław, Main Building - Lower Silesia. Old university, established in 1702. The enormous main building contains rooms with opulent interiors, including the Baroque interior of Aula Leopoldina and University Church.
  • Wieliczka Salt Mine – Lesser Poland. One of the oldest operating salt mines in world, operates since the 13th century AD. Up to 327 m deep, more than 300 km long. Miners have carved multiple reliefs, chandelier, cathedral.

List of described attractions by voivodeships

Poland is divided into 16 voivodeships:

Greater Poland
Kuyavia-Pomerania
Lesser Poland
Lower Silesia
Lublin
Lubusz
Łódź
Masovia
Opolskie
Podkarpackie
ArrowHaczów ChurchChurch
Podlaskie
Pomerania
ArrowGdańsk St. Mary's ChurchChurch
Silesia
Świętokrzyskie
Warmia-Masuria
West Pomerania

Map of Poland

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