Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
When coming to Poland you must surely think in advance of the places to visit. As the country has over 20 National Parks (featuring habitats of rare animals and plants) it is a perfect spot for nature-lovers! But Poland is more than that. It offers its visitors beautiful cities that amaze those interested in architecture and local culture.
Among the cities worth recommending I would mention Warsaw (Warszawa) – the capital of Poland. Although most of its monuments were destroyed during the World War II, the locals managed to rebuilt them in its original form – from pictures and photos. It is hard to believe that some of the buildings date back only to 20th century – but one can see the passion that the citizens shared when rebuilding their hometown. The Old Town (Starowka) of Warsaw looks alike the one before Poland was invaded. What is also important, the capital differs from other Polish cities. Life there is quicker and modern buildings remind the skyscrapers from other European cities.
Krakow – stressed by many to be the Royal City of Krakow – used to be the capital city and is still thought by many to be the cultural centre of Poland. Culture is visible here everywhere – in customs, street artists performances, events and atmosphere that is promoted in numerous cosy cafes and restaurants. The Old Town stretches within the medieval city walls and its Main Market Square is the biggest medieval square of Europe. The Wawel castle used to be the seat of Polish Royal Family – and in nearby cathedral the kings were crowned.
Poznan (called often by foreigners: Posen) – one of the oldest cities of Poland – is still an important centre of trade, industry and education. Poznan’s cathedral – which is the oldest cathedral of Poland – contains the tombs of the first Polish rulers. The must see of Poznan is – apart from the previosuly mentioned cathedral – historic town hall with a clock and a mechanism with two goats that bump their heads sharp at noon (renowned sign of the city).
The city of Wroclaw (known often by its German name: Breslau) boasts one of the most beautiful and largest Market Squares (second biggest – after Krakow). One can not only admire architecture of the city but also its vibrant atmosphere – created especially by students by whom the city is widely inhabited. Iron gnomes scattered around the city have a symbolic meaning for Wroclaw – but are also the sign of modern attempts of attracting the visitors by finding characteristics of the city that will be later on associated with Wroclaw.
Torun (called sometimes by foreigners Thorn) is especially known as a birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus. The city boasts almost intact architecture, featuring its layout and numerous Gothic buildings – all in brick. In Poland Torun is especially known for gingerbread – Torunskie pierniki – that is now sold all around the country. The visitors will be enchanted by spectacular view of the illumination of the Old Town at night.
Situated by the Baltic Sea, Gdansk (known also by its German name: Danzig) is considered one of the most beautiful cities of this area. It used to be important harbour city of Northern Europe. Gdansk is very often associated with nearby cities of Sopot and Gdynia – as they are together referred to as Tri-City (Trojmiasto). One may notice that the architecture of the city is the result of influence of its former German citizens. Gdansk played also an important role in modern history – as a birthplace of Solidarity party (that helped to bring down the Communism in Poland).
The visitors will surely find more of Polish cities interesting. Smaller ones boast of cosy atmosphere, narrow streets, vivid local habits and things characteristic only for them. Among numerous ones it is highly recommended to get to know more about Zakopane, Kazimerz, Krynica and others.