The 15 best places to visit in Poland

 

Built in 2013 in the south of the country, to the north of the city of Krakow, is a 13.8 metre (45 ft) high statue of the late Pope John Paul II. Made of white fiberglass and weighing in at 5 tons it is the largest statue of any Pope ever made. The statue was funded by a wealthy businessman to say thank you to the late John Paul II who he believed saved his son from drowning.

15. Pope John Paul II Statue

 

In the far west of the country close to the border with Germany is the unusual natural site known as the Crooked Forest. Some time around 1930 some pines were planted in the area, and to this day it is not known why they have grown in this peculiar way. Some people think it was caused by a stronger than normal snowstorm, whilst others think they were intentionally deformed to create naturally curved timber. The truth of the matter is that no one can definitively say why or how the forest has grown as it has.

14. Krzywy Las

 

In the extreme south east of the country​, on the border with Slovakia and Ukraine is the countries third largest area of protected land, the 292 square kilometre (112 square mile) Bieszczady National Park. Consisting of almost completely untouched forest and mountains, many species of animal have been able to thrive without human interference. Lucky visitors have been known to spot bears, wolves, wildcats, wild boars, beavers, otters, lynx, deer, moose, European bison, eagles and some species of snake. The highest peak in the range is Mount Tarnica, at 1,346 metres (4,416 ft) above sea level the trail to the summit is gradual and relatively easy.

13. Bieszczadzki Park Narodowy

 

Completed in 1292 AD in the south west of the country close to the border with the Czech Republic is the Książ Castle, the largest castle in the Silesia region. Located within Książ Landscape Park, a protected area within the Wałbrzyski Foothills, the castle has undergone periods of destruction, devastated in 1482 AD and rebuilt from the mid 16th century onward in a Renaissance style. Lavish and beautiful inside and out, Książ Castle overlooking the gorge of the Pełcznica River is certainly one of Poland's most picturesque fortifications.

12. Zamek Książ

 

In the far east of the country, close to the border with Ukraine is the historic town of Zamość, its Great Market Square regarded to be one of the most beautiful 16th century squares in Europe. Surrounded by a complex of rich and colourful arched houses, the most prominent building is the tall and ornate Ratusz, or Town Hall, built in the early 17th century. As a unique Renaissance town whose distinguishing features have been retained, the old town of Zamość has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

11. Zamość

 

Built in the 13th century in the far northern centre of the country is one of the most beautiful castles in Poland, the Castle Of The Teutonic Order Of Malbork, otherwise more simply known as Malbork Castle. Having survived as a grand palace within the territory of Royal Prussia, it was only in World War II when the castle suffered any damage, having to undergo restoration works in the late 20th century. Today this classic medieval fortress serves as a museum, has the honour of being classed an official historic monument of Poland, holds the title of the largest castle in the world when measured by land area, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Zamek W Malborku

 

In the far south of the country, west of the city of Krakow, is the infamous concentration camp of Auschwitz, the dominant symbol of the Holocaust. Consisting of a network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II, an estimated 1.3 million people were sent to the camp, of which an estimated 1.1 million people were killed. The scene of one of the worst human led atrocities in the history of mankind, today the Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

9. Auschwitz

 

Completed in 2010 in the far west of the country, on the main route between Poznań and the German capital, Berlin, is the Monument To Christ The King. Standing at 33 metres (108 ft) high, it is one of the tallest statues in Europe, and the single tallest statue of Jesus Christ in the world.

8. Pomnik Chrystusa Krola

 

In the extreme north of the country on the Baltic coast is the ancient port city of Gdańsk, during the 17th century the wealthiest and largest city in Poland. Few of the buildings in the old town have survived from the time of the Hanseatic League, with many of the colourful merchant buildings along the cities famous Ulica Długa (Long Street) and Długi Targ (Long Market), having to be reconstructed after World War II.

7. Gdańsk

 

In the western centre of the country, almost directly west from the capital, Warsaw, is the city of Poznań, the fifth largest city in the country and among the oldest cities in Poland. The jewel and undoubted biggest draw of the city is the Old Town, a once walled medieval city among cobbled narrow streets, large ornate buildings and colourful townhouses. The city's most renowned landmarks include Poznań Town Hall, the National Museum, the Grand Theatre, the Fara Church, the Poznań Cathedral and the Imperial Castle, totally reconstructed in 2010.

6. Poznań

 

In the eastern centre of the country is the largest city in Poland, the capital city, Warsaw. Once described as the Paris Of The East, it was regarded to be one of the most beautiful cities on the planet until the German invasion of World War II. After the war the cities old town was restored having suffered heavy damage, its varied architecture reflecting the cities long and turbulent history, from Gothic churches to neoclassical palaces, Renaissance townhouses, Soviet era blocks and modern skyscrapers. The picturesque old town of Warsaw represents almost every example of European architectural style since the 13th century. Considered an outstanding example of near total reconstruction of a span of nearly 700 years of history, the entire old town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

5. Warsaw

 

In the south west of the country is the city of Wrocław, one of the most picturesque in all of Europe. Dating back over a thousand years, throughout the centuries it has been a part of the Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire, Wiemar Republic and Nazi Germany. Today the city is known for its medieval market square, lined with elegant pastel coloured townhouses it is one of the largest squares in Europe with the two largest town halls in Poland. Points of interest include the Zdrój Fountain, the Gothic Old Town Hall with its large astronomical clock and St. Elizabeth's Church. The church tower stands at 91 metres (299 ft) high, offering visitors the best view over the city from its observation deck. 

4. Wrocław

 

In the extreme south of the country, close to the border of Slovakia and the Czech Republic is the city of Kraków, Poland's second city. At its historic centre is the Rynek Główny, dating to the 13th century this medieval main square is one of the largest and most revered in all of Europe. Surrounded by historic buildings, the centre of the square is dominated by the enormous Renaissance styled Cloth Hall, beside it the 13th century free standing Town Hall Tower. Home to beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque and Baroque architecture, visitors should seek out the 11th century Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the huge Gothic 14th century St. Mary's Basilica with its amazing viewing tower, and the new art installation, the Eros Bendato sculpture. One of the most visually striking and unique cities in Europe, the entire historic centre of Kraków has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Kraków

 

Close to the city of Kraków in the town of Wieliczka is one of Europe's most unique attractions, the Wieliczka Salt Mine, one of the most visited sites in the country. Sometimes called the Underground Salt Cathedral, notable works include statues, chapels, paintings and a chandelier carved from rock salt by the miners who once worked there. The most impressive single piece is a carving on a rock salt wall depicting Leonardo's Last Supper. The oldest salt mine in operation, its unique artworks have elevated it to an official national historic monument, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Kopalnia Soli Wieliczka

 

In the far south of the country, encompassing the Tatra mountain range within the Western Carpathian Mountains that form the natural border with Slovakia, is the 211 square kilometre (81 square mile) Tatra National Park, the most visited park in the country. Covering an area of outstanding natural beauty, the landscape consists of sharp edged peaks, large pristine forests, over 650 caves, 30 mountain lakes and numerous waterfalls. The most famed of these waterfalls is the Wielka Siklawa, the tallest in the country with a drop of 70 metres (230 ft). The park is also home to the Rysy, at 2,499 metres (8,199 ft) above sea level it is the highest peak in Poland.

Pictured is the Morskie Oko.​

1. Tatrzański Park Narodowy

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