Religious Poland

The customs and art of Western Europe came to the Polish lands together with Christianity. Romanesque architecture, located along the 1,000-km route of the Piast Roman Way, date back to the 11th century. Sites worth seeing include the 12th-century tombs of the first Piast rulers, the Gniezno Doors, the cathedral in Plock, the basilicas in Kruszwica and Tum, located near Leczyca, and numerous churches.

Points of interest along the easternmost section of the European Cistercian Trail include 13th-century churches and monasteries in Jedrzejow, Koprzywnica, Sulejow and Wachock as well as the Baroque churches of the Krzeszow Abbey with unique frescos, often compared to paintings in the Sistine Chapel. The churches of St. Mary in Gdansk and Cracow are excellent examples of Gothic architecture. Eastern Poland has sizable communities of religious minorities, and the most famous Orthodox sanctuary in Poland is the monastery on the hill in Grabarka.

Jews accounted for more than 10 percent of Poland’s pre- World War II population. Jewish religious relicts in Poland mainly comprise cemeteries (kirkut), whose tombstones (macewa) are beautifully ornamented with motifs from the Old Testament. Every year Lesko, Cracow’s Kazimierz district and Bobowa in the Biala Valley are visited by Hassidic Jews, who come here to see the graves of famous tzaddikim. The rebuilt synagogues in Warsaw, Cracow and Tykocin are symbols of their past.

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