What is Poland Famous For? 10 Things That Make Poland the Country it is
Poland is a country that tends to fly under the radar when it comes to traveller hotspots or general knowledge, with most people only really knowing about Krakow or Warsaw as possible destinations.
What is Poland Famous For?
As a country, Poland is known for being formerly communist, being tragically caught up in WWII and for producing delicious-tasting dumplings.
Other things Poland is known for are; The Tatra Mountains, great beer and vodka, Pope John Paul II and for having the largest castle in the world.
If you want to know more about what Poland is famous for so you can decide for yourself whether you want to add it to your bucket list, just read on…
1. Auschwitz Birkenau
When you think of Poland, the first thing that springs to mind is probably Auschwitz, a stark reminder of the country’s dark past. This is a site that tourists come to from all over the world as it brings the history of World War Two into perspective and works as a reminder of the atrocities that happened during this devastating period so that no country or race ever has to go through this again.
While entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau is free of charge, it is best to visit the site with a professional guide who can explain about the different areas as well as recounting tales of individuals who were kept in the concentration camps. It is suggested that you give yourself at least three hours to fully explore the two sites as you’ll probably want to take it at a slow and respectful pace, giving yourself time for the solemnities to sink in.
2. Malbork Castle (It's the largest castle in the world!)
Although not that many people know about Malbork Castle in Poland, the fact is, it is the largest castle in the world, so it’s definitely worth a mention on this list! The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork (as it’s more formally known) is one of the few red-brick castles in the world, and it has the largest surface of any castle anywhere.
The UNESCO World Heritage castle was built during the 13th century by the German Catholic Teutonic Knights. Since then it has been used as a fortress, a royal residence and a workhouse before being pretty much destroyed during World War Two. Thankfully for us, it has been beautifully restored can easily be visited on a day trip from Gdansk.
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3. UNESCO World Heritage Sites
In addition to Malbork Castle, Poland has many other UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Krakow and the Wieliczka Salt Mine which were both among the first-ever list of UNESCO sites to be collated in 1978. The list drew upon Krakow’s medieval architecture, large market square and beautiful 13th-century merchant’s houses that make it such a stunning city.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the world’s oldest operating salt mines. While it no longer serves to mine sodium chloride today, it is now a Polish Historical Monument that travellers can explore. The mine features an underground lake, four chapels, myriad labyrinthine passages and even a rock salt statue of Pope John Paul II and a rock salt carving of Leonardo’s The Last Supper!
4. Gorgeous Landscapes
While Poland’s cities are usually the biggest draw for tourists, the rural landscapes are also pristine and well worth adding to your bucket list!
One of Poland’s famous sites is the Białowieża Primeval Forest, an area of rich biodiversity which the European bison call home. The forest is pretty vast and challenging to navigate, but some trails make it easier to explore. Trail 3 is known as the Żebry Żubra (literally, the ‘bison’s ribs’) and features an accessible wooden walkway that spans from Białowieża Village all the way to a bison sanctuary. This can be an excellent place to start if you want to see a range of landscapes as well as a hope of spotting the park’s iconic beasts.
5. Lakes, Rivers and Beaches
As well as lush forest Poland is also famous for its water including lakes, rivers and beaches. The Masurian Lakeland is arguably the most well-known water feature, a district that is home to over 2,000 lakes! This Lakeland is perfect for summer walks in the countryside as well as water-based activities such as sailing, kayaking and swimming.
The Lower Oder Valley International Park spans both sides of the Oder river (in Germany and Poland) and is a haven for wetland birds, and the Szczecin Lagoon features inlets, beaches, fishing villages and more.
6. Cuisine You Didn't Know About 🙂
While Poland’s food isn’t known for being the most refined or delicate, a lot of it is really delicious and is loved by locals and tourists alike. Poland is known for pierogi dumplings, ferments such as kefir and sauerkraut, Rosół soup, Oscypek cheese and a plethora of potato dishes. They also have naleśniki (Polish pancakes), Bigos (hunter’s stew) and even croissant cookies – yum!
Polish hospitality is also top-notch so not only will your food be hearty and tasty but it is likely to be served with a smile too!
7. Great Beer (and vodka!)
Poland is known for being a country that loves their vodka, but in recent times craft beer is coming close to knocking the spirit off the top spot! Poland is now, in fact, the third-largest beer producer in Europe and many Polish people prefer trying the latest beer from their local brewery over a shot of the hard stuff.
People in Poland are also famous for being able to hold their beer, so you might want to think twice about keeping up with a local when you’re in a bar or challenging them to a drinking competition!
8. Talented Athletes
Although your Average Joe may not be able to name many Polish athletes, the country is known for producing a wealth of sportsmen and women in a range of fields. Adam Małysz and Kamil Stoch are famous ski jumpers, Justyna Kowalczyk is an Olympic cross-country skier, Angelique Kerber a famed tennis player and Robert Lewandowski a professional footballer, all of whom have put Poland on the map in their respective sports.
9. Strong Catholicism
You may be surprised to learn that Poland is an extremely religious country, with around 90% of the nation identifying as Christian (85% of those Roman Catholic). This may have something to do with Karol Wojtyła, better known as Pope John Paul II, one of the longest-running popes in history who was born in Poland. Pope John Paul II was an iconic figure in Poland, not only because he helped end communism in the country but also because he worked on improving Catholic relations with other religions and was said to have performed miracles.
10. Unpronounceable Names
Last but by no means least is the fact that Poland is home to a whole host of destinations that, to English speaking travellers, are completely unpronounceable! The Polish alphabet has 32 letters instead of 26 for starters, and they seem to be intent on putting together strings of consonants (like ‘rdz’) that we simply have no hope of getting right!
We’d like to see a video of you trying to pronounce some of these place names – especially after a Polish vodka or two: Pszczyna, Bydgoszcz, Rzeszow, Szczecin, Rdziostów, Siemianowice Śląskie, Dzierżoniów and Ejszeryszki.
Now you should have a lot more information about what Poland is famous for as well as what makes it a worthy travel destination. Let us know what you’re most excited about seeing or doing in Poland in the comments below!
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