What are the Seven Wonders of Poland?

Previously on the Poland at Tours blog, we explored Poland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today, we’ll look at the Seven Wonders of Poland

In September 2007, the Polish daily newspaper, Rzeczpospolita, organised a nationwide survey to determine which seven cultural wonders the Polish people cherish the most in Poland. 

The list is a feast for any traveller passionate about history, particularly medieval history. Join us and discover some of Poland’s greatest treasures.

And if you are fascinated by history and are coming to Poland for a trip, please consider joining us on one of our Multi-Day Guided WW2 Tours of Poland.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Sometimes described as the Sistine Chapel of salt, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a historical attraction quite unlike any other.

When you first hear about visiting an underground salt mine, you may worry that it’ll be nothing more than a dry investigation of historic mining techniques. Well…never fear. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a truly breathtaking sight to behold.

Excavated since the 13th century, the labyrinthine passages of these salt mines extend for over 287 kilometres (178 miles). And within the mine’s enormous salt chambers, you will find highly skilled sculptures and ornate rooms, including an enchanting chapel. 

This surreal space is fairytale-esque. It’s as if this land of salt were taken from the pages of Tolkien or C. S. Lewis. 

And tourism at the mine is no recent phenomenon. So unusual is this site that it has been drawing guests for hundreds of years, including such illustrious figures as Chopin and Goethe.
If you’d like to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine in the company of an expert historical guide, consider joining Poland at War Tours on our 4-Day Tour of Krakow or one of our Day Tours From Krakow. 

Toruń Old Town

There are few towns in Europe as charming as Toruń. This medieval jewel of a Polish city was largely developed under the rule of the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, and much of its historical heart has been remarkably well preserved.

The tragic nature of Poland’s 20th-century history means that the invading German and Russian armies destroyed much of the country’s historic architecture. Toruń, though, managed to escape any major battles, and thus its historic streets were preserved. 

Wandering the city’s Old Town, you will find buildings in a variety of historic architectural styles: Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.
Visit Toruń Cathedral (Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist), and you’ll be able to gaze upon the very baptismal font where Nicholas Copernicus was Christened. And a short walk around the corner will take you to the house where he grew up (now the Copernicus House Museum).

We’re also pleased to report that Toruń is famous for its tradition of gingerbread production, and the town centre is home to a couple of factories where you can explore the history of the confectionery and even try your hand at baking some. Chopin related in letters that he was deeply fond of Toruń gingerbread.

Malbork Castle

If stories of medieval knights and castles under siege thrill you, you won’t want to miss Malbork Castle, the largest brick castle in the world. 

Serving as the headquarters of the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, Malbork is an enormous site. You’ll feel you’ve stepped back in time as you wander through the castle’s courtyards and over its bridges. 

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this castle is an immensely important relic from the days of the Northern Crusades and the Teutonic Order’s presence in Polish territory.

Used as a hospital and barracks during the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon visited the castle twice. In the 20th century, Malbork became a pilgrimage site for the Hitler Youth as young Nazis were encouraged to look to Prussian history for inspiration. 

Although badly damaged during WW2, the castle has been magnificently restored – a must-visit site when travelling in Poland.

We visit Malbork as part of our Multi-Day Gdańsk Tour

Wawel Castle and Cathedral

It’s easy to fall in love with Kraków, Poland’s most visually stunning city. 

Like Toruń, the city of Kraków was fortunate enough to survive WW2 relatively unscathed, meaning there’s an array of historic churches and buildings to see there. 

The city’s most important historic site must be Wawel Castle and Cathedral. It is here where many towering figures from Polish history are buried, including numerous kings, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Józef Piłsudski, and Władysław Sikorski.

The castle is also associated with Kraków’s most famous legend, the story of the Wawel Dragon (Smok Wawelski in Polish). If you’re travelling with kids, you’ll want to visit Smok’s Cave, the cave underneath the castle where the dragon is said to have lived. 
We explore Wawel Castle and Cathedral on our Multi-Day Tour of Kraków.

Elbląg Canal

The Elbląg Canal is an 80.5 kilometres (50.0 mi) canal running southward from Lake Drużno to the river Drwęca and lake Jeziorak in northern Poland’s Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship.

Construction of the canal began in 1844 and is today regarded as one of Europe’s great 19th-century feats of engineering. The difference in water levels reaches 100 metres (330 ft) across the canal, so a series of ingenious locks and inclined planes had to be developed. 

Today the canal is mostly used for tourism and recreation. If in the area, take a boat ride that includes the use of the canal’s famous boat carriages. These boat lifts are built like a funicular and are powered by hydropower.

Zamość Old Town

Given UNESCO World Heritage Status for being a perfect example of a late-16th-century Renaissance town, the Old City of Zamość was designed by the Italian architect Bernando Morando. 

The whole town was created in the 16th century, conforming to the then-popular ideas of the “ideal town”. Located close to Lublin, Zamość makes for an excellent day trip for tourists who enjoy wandering historical locations and relaxing in charming settings. 

Kraków Market Square and Old Town

It’s little surprise that Kraków manages to secure itself two entries on Poland’s list of wonders! One of Central and Eastern Europe’s most magnificent medieval cities, Kraków offers visitors an array of things to see and do (as we’ve covered in our Historical Guide to Kraków).

The first stop on anyone’s visit to Kraków should be the city’s Old Town and central Market Square. Here you’ll get a taste of the city’s magic and will be able to soak up the atmosphere. 

Around the Old Town, you’ll find plenty of attractive bars and restaurants to grab some traditional Polish food or a locally-brewed craft beer. 

If you’re interested in Poland’s WW2 history, take yourself to Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, one of the Old Town’s best museums. 

If you’d like to see Schlinder’s factory and undertake a tour of Auschwitz (located just over an hour from Kraków) in the company of an expert guide, consider joining us on our Multi-Day Tour of Kraków

If you have any questions about anything discussed in this blog, please get in touch.

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