My visit to the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau was one of the most influential experiences and one of those that made me think about the cruelty of men. Although it's visited daily by tourists, it's a curious place that continues to give a lot of respect. This concentration camp was used by the Nazis during WWII, and the entrance still reads "Arbeit Macht Frei" (work will set you free) and is still one of the most popular. There are the grounds, patios, houses and corridors, as well as the gas chamber and cremation room. It's a good place to visit because of its historical importance, and is a story that should not be repeated. Http://www.Auschwitz.Org.Pl/
Wawel is the name of a hill on the left side of the Vistula River in Krakow, Poland. According to Wikipedia, it has an altitude of 228 meters above sea level and has great symbolic meaning for Poles. Indeed, Lech Kaczynski, the late president of Poland, rests in Wawel Castle, surrounded by kings, heroes and prominent personalities. Within its walls, has been written the history of Poland, from the coronation of kings to important decisions that have determined the successive stages of development. The original castle dates from the fifteenth century but has suffered various vicissitudes, fire and several reconstructions. Today, you can see mainly a renaissance style and detail that are Gothic and Romanesque. Personally, what I liked best, were their orange tiles. Singular. You can also see a fabulous collection of Arras tapestries, portraits and other precious objects. It is free to enter the castle, but if you want to see the tapestries and walk around inside the building itself. Next to the castle is the Wawel Cathedral, a splendid monument along with a church open for worship. Sigismund Chapel deserves special attention for its Renaissance style. On the outside lies the cave of the dragon, interesting for children- for children, there is a reproduction of a dragon breathing fire. Here's the story: The evil dragon was terrorizing the people living there and eating everything that was passing by. Compungido, the King offered the hand of his daughter to whoever that managed to rid the town of the fierce dragon. Many tried, but none succeeded until he came across Dratewka, a shoemaker by trade. He took a sheep, killed it, filled it with spicy food and left in the cave entrance. The dragon, of course, does not take long to devour but after doing so, he began to feel an itch and had to be fed drinking water in the river. He drank so much water - and finished by exploding! Thus, the good Dratewka married the daughter of the king and saved the Polish people. I said, a story.
Rynek Główny is undoubtedly one of the major centres of the Polish city, and the second largest square in Europe. Along the perimeter, there are many places to snack, have a coffee or a drink. Also, there is the imposing Basilica of Santa Maria and the Central Market, where you can buy amber, so typical of this area.
Step by step you travel deeper into the bowels of the earth. Down below there is another city, a labyrinth of miles of tunnels, you move to the fantastic mines dug by the dwarves in Lord of the Rings. The crypts amaze you with the sizes of virgins and people blossom with splendor and large wooden structures impress you with their size. Everything is soaked in a salty solution with rocks and streams with the same taste as the sea.
Once you arrive in Warsaw and step out of the train station, the first thing that catches your eye is the Palace of Culture and Science. This gift of Stalin to the Polish people has become an icon, despite the fact that it was built under harsh conditions for the Polish people. It has a cinema, museums, offices, businesses, and the Kongresowa Room, which hosts concerts and it was there where Chamba performed when in Warsaw. Around the building, during the 2012 Eurocup, they installed something called the Fan Zone. It was a complex with screens and games and food stalls, where you could watch the games.
The old town of Krakow was inside the castle. Inside you can enjoy a lively city, not crowded, with many flowers and lovely sights. To be honest we couldn't see the cathedral inside, but if we had we wouldn't have any place left to explore. The cathedral itself is gorgeous and the environment on which it stands is a marvel.
Built in the fourteenth century on one side of the Market Square, St. Mary's Basilica is an imposing Gothic church that is one of the most important and famous monuments in the city. The facade of the basilica is flanked by two towers of different heights. The higher, decorated with a golden crown, is known as Hejnalica and in the past was used as a lookout for fires and enemy attacks. Currently the trumpet sounds every hour, but the melody is suddenly interrupted in memory of the trumpeter who was killed while trying to alert citizens about an invasion. Inside the basilica, you can see a fifteenth century wooden altarpiece with more than 200 carved figures which, at 12 meters high, is the largest in Europe. During the summer months, it is possible to climb the Hejnalica tower to see the city from above and access the mythical trumpeter's room. It is one of the best views in Krakow.
Also known by the name of St. Sigismund Square (Rynek Starego Miasta) it was begun in the XIII century and finished in the XIV. The facades combine elements of Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic and it's the most famous square in Warsaw where fairs were installed. In the center of the square there's a statue of a mermaid - the emblem of Warsaw. What we see today is a reconstruction of the original that was destroyed in World War II. There are also many tourist establishments, especially, cafes and restaurants.
Over a hundred, all different, the Gnomes of Wroclaw are scattered throughout the city. These sculptures of small dwarfs. Therefore, you must be careful not to miss any, so you should buy the gnomes map, indicating the exact location of all of them. There the fishing gnome, a gnome eating pierogi, one who climbs a lamppost, etc ... Strange and funny, the littlest in the family will love them.
This park as close to the "old city", Warsaw, also known as "Little Prague" and acts as a sign that the parks in Poland today are an important part of their "communities". In the middle of the oldest part of the capital, where they cause considerable hardship and inconvenience own old quarters of large capital, here we find a huge park, right next to a street with lots of traffic. Away from that traffic and that avenue, you can enjoy peace and quiet, unbecoming of the great capitals. What leafy park makes anti-noise barrier, the air of course, more fresh and clean; There are some animals that live in the wild way, such as squirrels or ducks that roam around the huge park with no fences or barriers to their mobility.
This museum offers a thorough overview of the history of the city of Krakow. It's not difficult to find, next to the Moka Contemporary Art museum. Entry costs 19 zloty, but it's free on Mondays. Inside you'll find rooms full of history and emotions, with photographs, videos (you can view them in English), and documents. The tour shows exhibitions, reenactments, and photos (some really hard to look at) which will show you all about the hard times that the Jews in this city had to live through.
In the first part of the visit you can learn about the First World War, and then onto the Second, with the sounds of bombs and sirens. There are videos with testimonials from those who lived through these times. You will see all about the Nazi occupation, and you will see the reality of thousands of people suffering. You will see how the Nazis took away the city's identity, replacing Polish street names with German, and you will feel what it is to be behind the door of a concentration camp. After this is a tour of the Soviet era, and it ends with a tribute to all the victims and sufferers. An amazing, emotional experience, completely recommended.
It's as though you already know the Jewish quarter thanks to movies like "The Pianist" and "Schindler's List", there will be familiar sites even if you have never been there, in fact if you go with a guide, they will lead to some houses where they filmed some of the scenes from "Schindler's List"
Gdansk has these two great historical figures, J.Pablo II and Pope L. Walesa. Therefore, it's well worth a visit. The city was completely rebuilt after the 2nd World War, in 1923 over 95% of the population was German, but after World War the Soviets destroyed more than 90% of the city and the Germans were kicked out. Gdansk has the largest brick church in the world (according to all of the guidebooks from the city that proudly recite this fact) and several notable buildings.
The Krakow Ghetto was one of the great ghettos of Poland, some 80,000 Jews lived here before the war. Crammed into 30 streets, 320 residential buildings and 3,167 rooms, 4 families per apartment and some living out in the open. They were surrounded by walls that isolated them. All doors and windows facing the "Aryan" side were boarded up, while allowing traffic but followed by four monitored inputs. By grim coincidence, the walls contained panels in the shape of tombstones. Part of the wall has been conserved (and restored) , there are commemorative plaques and pilgrimages of Jews lay flowers there. Behind you can even see buildings and although it is difficult to imagine overcrowding, but it helps us get an idea, and reminds us of what man is capable. Roman Polanski lived there as a child.
Polish Lodz is a city I was lucky enough to see by chance, we did a route change to see an old friend who was there working. The city was a farmer town until the early 19th century, for its location within 150kms of Warsaw, it would become an industrial power and so, Lodz, it then belonged to Russia who was attracting people, mostly of Polish and Jewish origin to the point that, just before WWI it was one of the cities with the highest population density in Eastern Europe. It was one of the hardest hit cities during WWII and much of its population was killed under the Nazi extermination, indeed on the main street there are plaques with the names of those who disappeared during that period. The industrial nature of the city makes it so there are not many monuments and historic buildings to admire. But it has its own pace and friendly people, and it was a great experience to go.
The Palace on the Water is one of the most beautiful places in the city, surrounded by a large garden and lake. It's on an artificial island in the park's lake and has two bridges that connect it to the mainland. To enter you must wear fabric shoes because the wooden floor is original. On the ground floor are the Bacchus living room, the royal baths, the ballroom, the room of portraits, the hall of Solomon, a picture gallery, the palace chapel and dining room. Upstairs are the royal apartments, another gallery of paintings, the balcony room, the king's room, the royal apartments, the wardrobe and the officers room. The games of mirrors and reflections of the Palace on the lake are very nice.
27 January marked 65 years of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, museum of horror and destruction, not only Jews, but also Gypsies, homosexuals, communists and thinkers among other groups. I visited twice and it has had a big impact on me. There's always something to make you stop and think. For me it is a symbol, an icon of what happened there, and that is their fences. Electrified in his day, it separated hell and death from life. The thicker the walls, the harder it must be to be inside. A thin wire like those means to me the greatest of the horrors committed by man.
The most used mode of transport in Poland to go from one city to another is train, not because they are fast, but because the roads are not good, and there's only a quick route across the country. One can go from one city to another in an adventure, crossing the country, which can take anywhere from 6 hours to 18! It all depends on your luck with the connections. It is best that you look on the web beforehand, and listed there are all train schedules and prices. I spent from 12 midnight to 3 am waiting for a train in a station with a couple of banks, no doors, very few people. But with a couple of guards. The train was full and. It is better reserve a direct train. In the carriages are compartments for 8, 4 versus 4 which are quite comfortable, light, curtains, etc. Not very contemporary, but they have a charm and if they are not too full and the journey is long, they are comfortable to sleep. A tip to go by train in Poland ... Lots of patience! Grab a book, food and drink, open conversation with your companions, because the journey will be anything but short. So take the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty Polish small towns, rivers and lakes, slowly.