Cities and Cultural Heritage
Poland – a country in the heart of Europe
Poland, one of the largest countries in Europe, with broad access to the Baltic Sea, is situated in the middle of the European continent on the crossroads between West and East. For centuries, Poland has maintained strong links to Western European culture, links established by its first ruler, Mieszko I, who accepted Christianity in 966 and connected the country to Latin civilization.
Both Poland’s capital and its largest cities are attractive vacation destinations for those interested in history and the cultural heritage of other nations, with convenient connections by air, rail and road. Despite the destruction wrought by World War II, Poland boasts many worldclass historic structures. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes the historical centre of Cracow; the Wieliczka Salt Mine, in uninterrupted operation for several centuries; Warsaw’s Old Town, painstakingly reconstructed after World War II; the Old Town in Jewel of Polish Renaissance; Torun, the site of one of the first towns founded by the Teutonic Knights and birthplace of the great astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus; the Teutonic Knights’ Castle in Malbork; Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a religious sanctuary; Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp; and Europe’s oldest primeval forest, Bialowieza Forest.
A journey across Poland is an opportunity not only to visit historical points of interest, but also to taste local cuisine, as many Polish dishes may be genuine novelties even for connoisseurs. It’s also an opportunity to take advantage of Poland’s strong ties to the European tradition of contemporary culture and art: painting, poster art, music and applied art such as artistic glassware, tapestries and ceramics. It’s hard to resist the charm of silver jewellery with amber.