Armchair Travel – Poland

The beautiful Wawel cathedral. It is located in the centre of Wavel Castle, the first UNESCO World Heritage location in the world!

We visited Poland end of 2012. It was a trip for New Years to spend with our friends we met on Sicily.

Interesting facts about Poland

Poland has a very diverse nature, it has beaches, mountains, forests, deserts and lakes. The seashore is almost 800 km (cca 500 miles) long. There are also more than a few mountain chains – Tatra, Carpathian, Sudet Bieszczady, Świętokrzyskie (Holy Cross). Poland has the only Central-European desert, Pustynia Błędowska (Błędowska Desert) but is also a home to one of Europe’s great lake districts, Masurian Lakeland. It spreads across 290 km (180 miles) and 52 000 sq km (20 000 sq miles) in the north-east of the country. There are more than 2000 lakes in all, including Sniardwy – the largest in the country.

The 150,000-hectare (380,000-acre) Białowieża Primeval Forest in Poland is Europe’s last ancient forest and home to 800 European bison, Europe’s heaviest land animals. This bison is the mascot of the famous Żubrówka (vodka of course).

Most of the Armchair Travel posts included an info on UNESCO World Heritage. Poland has 16 of them one of which is the biggest castle in the world – Malbork! But that’s not all! The first UNESCO World Heritage location in the world is in Krakow – it’s the Wawel Castle (below).

During the WWII Warsaw was almost completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt completely. The Old Town that you can visit today is not the original Old Town. The original has been completely bombed at in the WWII and Poles rebuilt an exact copy after the war using Bernardo Bellotto’s detailed paintings.

A street in Warsaw, Ulica Próżna, was destroyed during WWII. The right side has been renovated, but the left side is still waiting its turn. For now it shows the devastating nature of war.

Poland used to have the world’s tallest structure until it collapsed in 1991. The Warsaw radio mast in Konstantynow was built in 1974. It was the second tallest structure ever built after Burj Khalifa (Dubai). The mast was 646.38 meters (2,120.7 ft) tall.

If you love classical music, especially the piano, you will enjoy Warsaw! The city is full of little tributes to the Polish composer Frederic Chopin, like a musical bench where you press a button and it plays one of Chopin’s Etudes, or a zebra crossing that looks like piano keys.

Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.

Frédéric Chopin

Good news for jewellery lovers out there, Poland is world’s biggest exporter of Amber. You will find plenty gorgeous Amber necklaces or earrings on your trip so treat yourself!

Christmas in Warsaw

Another interesting fact is that the Polish TV is dubbed, and all of it is done by one man. You will hear the first second of two of the original language before a male voice starts reading the Polish text over it. Yes it includes men, women, children, EVERYONE! And yes, it is as weird as it sounds 😀

Warsaw at night

There are quite a few discoveries made by Polish people. First, just in case someone still does not know, Marie Curie was actually Polish, Maria Sklodowska, she just married a French guy. But apart from the first female Nobel prize winner, we also have Ignacy Lukasiewicz who in 1853 introduced the first modern street lamp from in Europe. His lamp inventions were first used in Lviv in Ukraine. There is still a street in Warsaw that uses the same street lamps until today.

Another inventor was Julius Fromm who made rubber condoms thinner and better and eventually invented latex condoms. Ironically, Poland is one of those countries that likes to pry in other peoples bedrooms so is trying to ban all contraception and any access to abortion.

Which brings me to our last fact…

Government building in Warsaw

Poland is one of the most religious country in Europe and religion isn’t separated from the State (same situation in Croatia). This is one of the reason of such restrictive laws on women’s sexual and reproductive health. You can read more on this here.

I leave you with Copernicus, a Polish mathematician and astronomer who we can thank for the knowledge of the Heliocentric system.

Check out other Armchair Travel posts!

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