Szczecin’s old-city contains numerous monuments. The former Pomeranian ducal castle functions today as a cultural centre. The “Seven-Coats” Bastion dates back to the 13th century.
For more than 500 years, Krakow served as the country’s capital and as the royal residence; with a population approaching 800 thousand, the city today is Poland’s centre for the arts, tourism and culture.
The historic centre of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and with its 6000 monuments and forty museums, it won the title of Cultural Capital of Europe in 2000. Several million tourists visit the untouched medieval city-centre every year.
The Renaissance style Royal Castle (Wawel), sited on a hill next to the Vistula River, is considered to be one of Europe’s most attractive royal residences. The protective walls of the city, with their bastions and gates, can still be admired today in their original Middle-Age splendour.
The Kazimierz district, in the eastern part of the city, has great historic and cultural importance, as it was formerly the Jewish Quarter; the Jewish Cultural Festival is held here every year in June and July.
The system of cellars located under the historic city centre serve today as café’s, bars, restaurants and display-rooms, endowing Krakow with its own special atmosphere.
Sopot is a charming holiday center, seaside resort and spa town. Sopot has many fine villas from the 19th and 20th centuries which were built in the Art Nouveau or eclectic style. The main pedestrian area is ul. Bohaterów Monte Cassino that leads visitors to Poland’s longest pier (511m) and the sandy beach.
The Northern Baths were built in 1907; these are good examples of old spa buildings in Poland. Sopot is also known for its International Song Festival, which is held in the Opera Lesna. In summer period, there are a great number of sports and cultural events in Sopot.
Nysa is one of the oldest towns in Silesia region; it was founded in the 10th century. The Medieval urban layout of the old town in Nysa has been well preserved. There are also many Baroque and Renaissance houses in the main market square and its neighborhood. Nysa’s Weigh-House was built in 1604; it is a fine example of Dutch Renaissance.
The large Church of Saint James and Agnes occupies one side of the main market square; it was built in the 15th century in the late-Gothic style. The church has a fine double doorway and it contains a number of Renaissance and Baroque side chapels.
There are also two Baroque-style churches: St. Peter and Paul and Our Lady’s Assumption Churches are also worth visiting. The Bishops’ palace was built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Auschwitz – Birkenau
Situated in southern Poland, about 50 kilometers west from Kraków, Auschwitz – Birkenau is the largest Nazi concentration camp in former German- occupied Europe.
The Auschwitz concentration camp was established on the outskirts of Oświęcim in 1940. The main extermination center, Birkenau – Auschwitz II was built in1942. About 1,100,000 people of 28 nationalities were transported here from all over the occupied Europe.
The majority of the victims were Jews, but Poles and Gypsies from different countries were also brought here. Most of them died in gas chambers just after arrival. The Camp was a place of massive tortures, executions (usually using the cyclone-B gas) and pseudo-medical experiments. Some barracks and ruins of the crematoria and gas chambers can be seen there today.
On the site of the concentration camp the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was founded in 1946. Auschwitz-Birkenau is part of UNESCO World Heritage, now.
Lublin is the largest town in Eastern Poland and the administrative and cultural center of its region. The Old Town of Lublin has preserved its medieval urban layout with its cobbled streets, many churches, burgher houses and gates.
In the middle of the old town Market Square can be found the Old Town Hall, which was built in the 16th century and was the royal tribunal. Today the building has a Classicist façade and houses the Museum of the Crown Tribunal.
Lublin’s old town was defended by fortified walls during the Middle Ages; the Kraków Gate is the only remaining part of the former medieval town wall. The tower houses the Historical museum of Lublin. The Lublin royal castle stands on the hilltop, at the edge of the old town. The castle area’s most prominent buildings are the Holy Trinity chapel with the unique Russo-Byzantine frescoes and the castle tower, both built in the 14th century.
It is worth taking a tour to the Open Air Museum locating in the suburbs of Lublin where old rural architecture and collections of artifacts from the region are presented.
Located in the northern part of Poland, on the bank of the Łyna River, Olsztyn is the administrative and cultural center of the Warmia-Masuria Voivodeship. There are eleven lakes in its environs; the town is an ideal base for exploring the lake region.
Olsztyn’s main attraction is its Gothic castle , which was built in the 14th century. The red brick castle was the former residence of Warmia Bishops and today it houses the Warmia and Masuria Regional Museum.
The High Gate is the only remaining gate of the three what were part of the town’s fortification in the 14th century. Olsztyn’s other important building is the St James’ cathedral, which was built in the 15th-16th centuries in the Gothic style. In the summer period concerts of organ music are often held in the cathedral.