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.
The town of Czersk is located in the northern part of Poland in Chojnice County, about 39 km from Warsaw. Czersk was the old capital of the Mazovian region.
Czersk’s main tourist attraction is its medieval castle , which is situated about one km from River Vistula. The castle was originally built in the 13th century but its present structure dates back to the 14th – 16th centuries. The castle ruins include three towers and their connecting walls. From the towers you can enjoy the view of the region.
One of Poland’s most important archaeological sites of Megalithic tombs is located near near Czersk in the Tucholskie Forest. It contains a burial ground with a Romanesque influence dating back to the 1st century.
The area contains tumuli, Megalithic tombs, some of them 30m in diameter and the so-called flat graves left here by the Goths moving from Scandinavia to the Black Sea some two thousand years ago. A similar burial ground is located at Wesiory several dozen kilometers north of Czersk.
Płock lies on the bank of the Vistula River, in the central part of Poland, about 120 km west of Warsaw. Płock was the capital of Masovia and for a short period at the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th century it was a residence of Polish kings.
Płock has some fine monuments. The Cathedral of Our Lady was built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style and later reshaped in the Gothic and Renaissance styles. The fragments of the castle of the Mazovian Princes’ can also be seen. The museum in the castle features an Art Nouveau exhibition.
The small town of Kazimierz Dolny situates in the eastern part of Poland, about 60 km west of Lublin. The picturesque Kazimierz Dolny, called as a jewel of Polish Renaissance, is popular among both tourists and artists.
The main market square (Rynek) is dominated by well preserved Renaissance burgher houses. Among the merchant houses the finest one are the Houses of the Przybyła Brothers with a Renaissance façade, which were built at the beginning of the 17th century.
Kazimierz Dolny’s parish church was built in the 14th century but reshaped in the renaissance style in 1620. It is also worth taking a walk to the ruins of the Gothic royal castle and the Renaissance granaries from the turn of the 16th century, visit the Jewish cemetery.
Tarnów has preserved the medieval urban layout of its Old Town. Its focal point is the Rynek, the old market square lined with Renaissance burgher houses from the 16th century.
In the middle of the Rynek the Old Town Hall can be found, which was built in the late Gothic style in the 15th century and rebuilt in the Renaissance style in the 16th century. The Town Hall today houses the Tarnów’s Local History Museum. Near the market square a Gothic cathedral stands, which was originally built in the 14th century. The church contains several Renaissance and Baroque tombs.
The next house dating back the 16th century houses the Diocesan Museum. East of the Rynekwas the traditional quarter of Tarnów’s jews; the bimah is the only fragment of the 18th century synagogue destroyed by the Nazis in 1940. The Jewish cemetery contains approx. 3,000 tombstones.