We enjoy finding interesting information about countries we plan to visit. Here is a list of the best 20 interesting and fun facts about Poland!
1. Nicolaus Copernicus, the famous astronomer, was Polish.
Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Toruń. He established the concept of a heliocentric solar system which proposed that the Sun is at the center of the universe rather than the Earth.
2. The largest open-air music festival in Europe is held in Poland. And it's free!
Pol’and’Rock Festival formerly knows as Woodstock Festival is the largest open-air festival in Europe and largest free open-air festival in the world. The average attendance for last few years was more than 600,000 people!
Read more about fun festivals in Poland here.
3. Poland is named after an ancient Slavic Tribe.
The name comes from a Western Slavic tribe - Poland ("Polanie”), which means "people living in open fields." This tribe inhabited the region starting in the 6th century.
4. Pope John Paul II was Polish.
Pope John Paul II, the former head of the Catholic Church was Polish. His name was Karol Wojtyła and he was born in 1920 in the town of Wadowice.
5. There is a "Polish Sahara" in Poland.
Błędowska Desert, located between Kraków and Katowice, is central Europe’s largest accumulation of loose sand away from a sea! It was created by a melting glacier thousands of years ago.
6. Poles enjoy drinking beer with fruit syrup.
People in Poland really like to mix their beer with raspberry syrup. In the winter, people warm it up and add cinnamon and cloves. Would you try it?
7. There's a complicated history behind this building.
The Palace of Culture and Science is a very tall and recognizable building in center of Warsaw. It was formerly dedicated to Joseph Stalin. In the time of "De-Stalinization" his name was revoked. Every few years there are ideas of demolishing the building because for many people it serves as a reminder of the Soviet Union's influence in Poland. So far it still stands.
8. During WWII, Warsaw was almost completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt.
The Old Town that you see in Warsaw today, is not the original Old Town. The original was completely destroyed by Nazi bombings in WWII and was rebuilt after the war using paintings by Bernardo Bellotto, a Venetian artist.
9. Poland's constitution was the 2nd in the world.
The first fundamental law in Europe was the Polish Constitution adopted on May 3rd 1791, four years after American Constitution. It only lasted for 14 months and 3 weeks as Poland was then partitioned, lasting over 100 years.
10. Poland didn't exist on maps for 123 years.
Poland, after three partitions by Russia, Prussia and Austria, returned to the map after World War II. It took 123 difficult years to appear again.
11. The oldest restaurant in Europe is located in Wrocław, Poland.
The restaurant is located in the basement of the Old Town Hall. Piwnica Świdnicka was founded in 1273 and still operates to this day.
12. University is free in Poland.
Higher education in Poland is free for Polish citizens. International students usually have to pay a very low tuition to study in Poland. The oldest university in Poland - The Jagiellonian University - was founded by King Casimir III in 1364.
13. In Poland, everyone has a special holiday for their name.
All Polish names are associated with a specific date of the year. When you look at a Polish calendar, each date has a male and female name associated with the date. Poles celebrate these days as if they are birthdays and are often given gifts of flowers or alcohol.
Read more about Name Days here.
14. Poland has many Nobel Prize winners.
18 Poles have been awarded the Nobel Prize! You may have heard of Maria Sklodowska-Curie and Lech Walesa, but the list is much longer.
15. The Polish language is really difficult.
Polish is considered as one of the world’s most difficult languages. You can ask Elizabeth all about it!
16. Mushroom foraging is a popular activity in Poland.
During certain seasons, you will find the hillsides lined with people hunting for wild mushrooms. Children are taught from a young age how to tell the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms.
17. Marie Curie Skłodowska was Polish.
Marie Curie Sklodowska was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to receive it twice in two different sciences. What an inspiring woman!
18. Polish TV uses dubbing, not subtitles.
You won’t find subtitles on Polish television. When watching an English film on tv, the English is still in the film but at a lower volume. There is a male Polish voice that speaks over the voices and there is only one voice for all of the characters.
19. Traditional Polish last names change depending on gender.
Polish surnames that end with -ski/-ska or -cki/-cka change depending on if you are male or female. If a father's surname is Kowalski, his daughters name will be Kowalska. In the United States, all Polish surnames take the male form.
20. The world’s largest castle, measured by land area, is located in Poland.
The Castle of Teutonic Order in Malbork is also listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. We love to visit this place on our private tours to Poland - view sample itineraries here.
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