Cracow, a city that was the capital of Poland for centuries. In 1992 it bore the title of “European City of Culture”. Together with the districts of Kazimierz and Stardom, Cracow is one of 12 places listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site.
With its compact central area, superb historic facades and delightful surrounding countryside, Krakow, nestling in the Vistula valley which runs between the Krakowsko-Czestochowska Jura or Upland and the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, ranks as a unique monument and is without doubt the most attractive of Poland’s cities.
Warsaw has been the capital of Mazowieckie voivodship (the largest of polish voivodships) since the early 17th century. It is the largest centre of the voivodship in terms of industry, culture and tourism. This was a market and defensive township as early as in the 10th century, but only officially a town from the mid 13th on. As the years passed, Warsaw flourished at times, then crashed at others. The Swedish invasion, the Prtitions and two World Wars were terribly hard on the city. Warsaw must-see Old Town is a World Heritage Site as an example of faithful reconstruction from its pre-War state, in many cases down to the finest detail.
The most impressive buildings in Warsaw are the Royal Castle, the Wilanow Palace and Park and Lazienki Park with its several palaces en route. All told, the Trakt Krolewski as it is known takes in the Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Nowy Swiat and Aleje Ujazdowskie thoroughfares, all attractive and worth a stroll, with their many churches, palaces and stylish tenement houses. A quite different scene is that of the city centre proper, dominated as it is by the imposingly stark Socialist-Realist architecture of the Palace of Culture and Science.
Gdansk is one of the most beautifull polish cities. Historical architecture mixed with the artistic spirit in the air and the nearness of the sea all that gives a unique impression on everyone who has ever visited this place. This city and area around it calles Gdansk Pomerania was within Poland up to the 12th century before becoming an independent dukedom until the 14th century, when it was taken by the Teutonic Knights. Finally in 1919 it became Polish again, though Gdansk itself retained Free City status (as Danzig).
At 4.45 on September 1st 1939 the German bombardment of the nearby Westerplatte penisula launched World War II. Apart from Westerplatte, the most eagerly-visited attraction in the Gdansk area is the city’s Main Town full of charming corners and featuring fine churches, decorative tenement houses and museums. Buildings like The Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary (the largest in Poland) and Main Town’s Gothic-style Town Hall with its 82m tower and exquisite interiors are must-see places in Gdansk for every tourist. Catching the eye is also the Old Crane in the port area on the Motlawa, once serving to load and unload goods and one of the largest of its kind in Mediaeval Europe.
Wroclaw is one of the oldest Polish cities. In the year 1000, a bishopric subordinated to the Archbishopric of Gniezno was founded here. In turn, it was at the beginning of the 13th century that town rights were obtained. The destruction by the Tatars in 1241 and various changes of allegiance, notwithstanding, Wroclaw never stopped developing to reach now the status of one of the most dynamical and interesting cities in Poland. It is today a University city full of life and interesting historical buildings like the 14th-15th century Gothic Town Hall, the famous Leopoldin Hall at the University in the former Jesuit college, the 13th-15th century Gothic Cathedral of St. John and many other churches, monasteries and convents, tenement houses and palaces. A particular attraction is the Battle of Raclawice Panorama, a painting by Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak which was produced in 1894 and is a unique example of monumetal painting with its width of 24 meters.
As a city on the Odra River, Wroclaw has over 100 bridges over the main river and its numerous branches. The best-known bridge of all is the Grunwaldzki suspension bridge. The city also boasts Poland’s largest and most famous ZOO, which was founded in 1865.