A stroll through Poland's beautiful and historic cities

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Visiting Poland

A stroll through Poland’s main cities

Original art by Gary Kirkpatrick www.garyjkirkpatrick.com


Poland has many fi ne examples of architecture ranging from the 12 -19 20




or early

One of the most spectacular is the Stare Miasto (Old Town) of



The Stare Miasto, the Old Town is jam packed with delightful structures, many in the late Renaissance style, rebuilt after total destruction by the Nazis.

It’s an

amazing display of skill and determination, especially in light of the limited funds available after the war.

The Royal Castle, sitting on the edge of the Stare Miasto, served as the offi cial residence of the King of Poland starting with Segismundo in the 16th c.

Begun in

the 14thc, it was at fi rst just a single tower, the lower part of which still stands. The Nazis destroyed the rest subsequent to the Warsaw uprising of 1944. The Poles rebuilt it and its sumptuous rooms starting in the 1970’s. did a superb job of it, and are justifi ably proud of the accomplishment. interior is especially beautiful.

There is a substantive fi lm about the reconstruction just as you enter. see it,

Fortunately the bossy guards make sure you

since they showed the process in detail. .


never before seen how they installed wall and ceiling appliqués, about which I’ve been curious.

While it’s not

the most impressive palace I have ever seen -Versailles,


They The

Hermitage and the Palacio Real in Madrid both outrank it – but there’s certainly much to be proud of with regards to the craftmanship.

Royal Castle, Warsaw

Poznan There are three outstanding churches in Poznan.

The most

important and oldest, Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul,

is not the most beautiful although in its

setting of trees and park it is quite charming.

The other

two rank as among the best Baroque churches anywhere, which I say having been in all of the great ones in Rome,

Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul

Palermo and elsewhere in Italy.

I have every reason to believe that they were

both done by Italians using Italian marble and other materials. Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul dates from 968.

It is on

Cathedral Island, where Poland was founded at around the same time. foundation is visible in the basement. in the Gothic style. style. today.

Starting in the 1300’s the church was rebuilt

After a fi re in the 1600’s it was remodeled in the Baroque

The damage in 1945 led to its reconstruction in the Gothic style we see Pope John Paul II visited and is honored in the church.


is one a top tourist destinations.

It has a

fabulous central plaza and a castle complex atop the Wawel Hill.

We climbed Wawel Hill, as people have been

doing for the last 50,000 years. Only since circa 1000, however, has this climb served to gain the entrance to the castle. Now it’s a museum ( founded in 1931), sitting in a complex of structures including the Royal Cathedral. River.


The modest hill overlooks the Vistula Wawel Castle

There’s an open air museum just outside


containing houses, churches, barns and some bee hives unlike any I’ve ever seen before. The setting is bucolic, with sloping meadows, wooden buildings on hilltops, a lake, a stream. You have a good view into the rural life style of area residents between 1800 and 1930.

Meadow at the open air museum

Bee hives at the museum

Wooden Church


Castle is another top destination.


Knights built Malbork Castle in the 13th century. At that time Malbork was in Prussia, changing to Polish control in 1945. It is the largest castle in the world by the land area it covers and when built the largest brick castle in the world. Sitting on the

Malbork Castle Nogat River, it has been a Polish royal palace and a Nazi fortifi cation in the waning days of the Third Reich, subjecting it to Russian bombardment. Mill in the castle


damaged and afterwards faithfully restored, today you see a

structure in fi ne condition and a great place to wander around, through narrow passages and steep winding staircases.

G’day from

Gdansk ,

on the Baltic Sea in northern Poland. From

here Lech Wałęsa led the dock workers union Solidarity on strikes and other actions that set in motion the downfall of the Soviet Union. It has been important in other eras, such as the 1700’s, when it too, like Krakow, was a member of the Hanseatic League — take a walk though the port area and you will think you are in Holland, with all the Dutch Golden Age architecture. The WW2 and Solidarity museums are top notch museums.

Lech Walesa still

comes to his offi ce in the latter.

Main street of old Gdansk

Lech Walesa


is easy to walk around. It is full of remarkable architecture, and the

many restaurants, bars and cafes add to your enjoyment. The buildings range from the brick structures daring from the 14th century Teutonic Knights to the Gothic to Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

The town was not damaged in

WW2, so the buildings are not newly rebuilt. The Cathedral of SS. John the Evangelist and John the Baptist (14th century) has some wonderful sculptures and paintings from the era, including a

Moses and St. Mary Magdalene. The

multiple altars are outstanding.

Towers in Torun


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