Poland, one of the largest countries in the European Union, lies on the border between western and eastern civilizations. Throughout the centuries, this location had an influence on its history and development. Once Poland was a kingdom, today it is a republic. Once its size was huge, today it is a mid-sized country. Once its borders stretched “from sea to sea” (means from the Baltic to the Black Sea), today it is caught between Germany and Ukraine. There were times it was a powerful state, while there was a period when it disappeared at all from the map of Europe. It was a Communist country, but today it is a member of NATO and EU.
Poland was very often at the crossroads of history. Main historical cataclysms of the 19-20 centuries took place on this land. Napoleon’s army crossed Poland several times; many of the significant battles on the Eastern Front during World War I were fought in Polish lands; WWII started with the Nazi attack on Poland. The Holocaust – the most terrible catastrophe of humankind – took place mostly on the territory of Poland.
However, there is another Poland, with its beautiful nature, dense forests on the East, splendid beaches on the Baltic Sea coast on the West, mountains and ski resorts at Zakopane on the South, mineral water springs and SPA centers, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture, great literature, sciences, fine arts and music. Poland is home to outstanding individuals, who contributed significantly to the world culture. Among them astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, poet and dramatist Adam Mickiewicz, composer Frederik Chopin, novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz, creator of Esperanto language Ludvig Zamenhof, Yiddish writer Yitskhok Leybush Peretz, twice Nobel Prize winner physicist Maria Sklodowska-Curie, Pope John Paul II, “Solidarity” founder, politician Lech Walesa, film director Roman Polanski.
Over 17 million tourists visit Poland per year. The tourist itineraries include beautiful lakes around Mikolajki to north from Warsaw, visit to Wolfschanze bunker – Hitler’s military headquarters in Poland during WWII, unique cruise along inland waterway system in Elblag, peculiar Polish-Slavic and German-Teutonic history of Gdansk (Danzig), Copernicus and gingerbread in Torun, the great pianist Arthur Rubinstein – native of Lodz, the textile capital of Poland.
Poland is a country of Catholic and Jewish civilization. Krakow the ancient Polish capital is famous for its Wawel Castle, Wieliczka Salt Mines, one of the most valuable material and spiritual monuments in Poland, UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage site, Jewish Kazimierz and unfortunately infamous for the nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. On the way to Warsaw, one can explore the miraculous Black Madonna of Czestochowa and the world of the small Polish villages and their communities.
The capital of Poland, Warsaw was destroyed 85% during WWII. In its restoration took part every Pole. It was a collective feat of all the nation. Warsaw is significant for its Old and New city, Royal Castle, the sites of the famous Jewish Ghetto and Polish uprisings, Lazienki Palace and park, excellent fine arts museum, the Soviet gift – Palace of Culture and Science and Frederick Chopin sites and annual music festival “Chopin and his Europe”.Tour to Poland
By Yulik Gurvitch