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Poland at Large
11 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT POLAND
When you think of Poland, you might picture incredible natural landscapes, historic sites, and lots of delicious pierogi dumplings… But there’s much more to Poland than meets the eye. Get to know more about this fascinating country with these facts about Poland.
1. Poland is home to the world’s biggest castle
The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is the largest castle in the world by land area. Originally built in the 13th century as a Teutonic castle and fortress, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Speaking of which, Poland is home to a remarkable 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
2. Poland has one of the world’s oldest salt mines
Have you ever been inside a salt mine? When you visit Poland with Trafalgar, we’ll take you to see the 800-year-old Wieliczka Salt Mine, one of the oldest in the world. It’s famed as the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland and you’ll see chambers, sculptures, salt chandeliers, and an entire chapel carved from rock salt when you venture 135 metres (440 feet) below the ground with your guide. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been producing salt continuously since the 13th century until 2007, and you’re sure to be amazed by the history and unique carvings of this salt mine.
3. Vodka originated in Poland
This fact about Poland is hotly debated by Russians, however, it is believed that vodka was invented in Poland. The first written mention of the spirit was found in Polish court documents from 1405 and vodka was originally used as medicine. Poland has been producing the famous drink since the Middle Ages and today the Polish still make some of the best vodkas in the world, producing around 260 million litres of it each year.
4. Europe’s heaviest animals live in Poland
The endangered European bison, or the wisent, is the heaviest land animal in Europe, weighing over 600kg on average. They can be found roaming on the 150,000 hectares of the Białowieża Primeval Forest in Poland – the last primaeval forest in Europe, that once sprawled across the continent thousands of years ago.
5. Poland had the world’s first upside down house
One of our favourite fun facts about Poland is that it’s home to the first upside down house in the world. The topsy-turvy wooden house was built the wrong way up in a forest, and it looks like something out of a fairytale. Visitors have to enter the house through the attic windows and can stroll through the furnished interior, reminiscent of Communist Poland during the 1970s to symbolise how the Communist rule turned life upside down in Poland. Hundreds of curious tourists have come here since its unveiling in 2007, and you can find the house in the tiny Polish village of Szymbark – which only has around 500 residents.
6. Poland has one of the most diverse environments in Europe
What do you picture when you think of Poland? Ancient forests? Mountain chains like the Tatra and Carpathian? Dazzling lakes? How about beaches, deserts, sand dunes or wetlands? Poland has almost 800km of sandy coastline, sand dunes in the Pomerania region, wetlands in Biebrzański National Park, and even the only Central-European desert, Pustynia Błędowska.
7. The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw is full of animals
Warsaw’s iconic Palace of Culture and Science is a massive building with over 3,000 rooms used as grand halls, conference rooms, sports arenas, auditoriums, bars, movie theatres and offices. But did you know that cats work here? They may not be on the official payroll, but dozens of cats roam the building every day to combat the invasion of mice on the lower floors. But cats and rodents aren’t the only animals living here. The upper floors are home to kestrels, while the sixth floor is home to a living bee apiary.
8. You can still eat at Europe’s oldest restaurant
Head to the city of Wrocław in Poland, and you’ll find “Piwnica Swidnicka”, the oldest restaurant in Europe. It was opened all the way back in 1275 and you can still enjoy a delicious meal there today.
9. Polish people marry the youngest in Europe
One of the most interesting facts about Poland is that Polish people marry on average at age 25-27 – younger than any country in the European Union. So if you befriend any Poles in their mid-twenties who are in a steady relationship, start preparing to attend a Polish wedding… It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.
10. Warsaw was almost completely destroyed during WWII
The Old Town in Warsaw you see today isn’t the complete original. Warsaw was heavily bombed and effectively razed by Nazi Germany in 1944 during World War II. The Poles rebuilt their city after the war using the detailed paintings of Bernardo Bellotto. Today you can still see buildings in the Old Town of Warsaw that look as they did in the 14th century, and it’s all testament to the incredible strength and resilience of the Polish people.
11. You can find an original Gutenberg Bible in Poland
There are only nine copies of the Gutenberg Bible remaining in their original 15th-century binding… And you can find one of them in the Diocesan Museum in the little town of Pelplin in Poland’s Kociewie region. The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed using a printing press and it paved the way for the mass production of books in the West. Today, the Gutenberg Bible is one of the rarest books in the world.
c. by Katie Birtles
22 Aug 2021