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Visit Poland - Places to See
Zelazowa Wola

Zelazowa Wola is 33 miles west of Warsaw. Located here is the small manor house where Chopin was born in 1810. The house is situated in a lovely park. Every Sunday from June to September, the world's best pianists play Chopin here... their music beamed to visitors via loudspeakers.

The house is quite small with most rooms visible via a central hallway. Tours are no longer allowed to go through each room. The strain was too much for the building. Instead you are allowed to walk through the hall and look into the rooms. You are still able to see enough to make the visit worthwhile.

Zelazowa Wola may be visited as a tour from Warsaw... or more likely included on a general tour, as a lunch-stop. Other than the Chopin house, there's very little in the vicinity for tourists.


Poznan

Poznan was the capital of Poland until the 13th century. It is a charming city and is worthy of more attention than tourists give it. They generally think of it as a rest stop on the way to Germany. It really warrants a full day or more.

Old Market Square is one of the most charming squares anywhere.

Town Hall Clock: At noon each day, watch as 3 goats appear over the clock.

Franciscan Church is richly decorated in the Baroque style.

The Church of the Virgin has fine stained glass.

The Golden Chapel on Cathedral Island contains opulent tombs of two Polish kings.

In the evening, the Old Market Square really comes alive. All the natives come out and it appears to be one grand party. It's not to be missed.


Auschwitz

This infamous camp is located 35 miles from Krakow and it has been turned into a museum, which spares you none of the details. Do see it. A local guide will escort you, and the experience will be quite sobering.


Czestochowa

One visits here to see the Jasna Bora Monastery, which contains the holiest shrine in Poland, the famous Black Madonna, which is a painting attributed to St. Luke. The work is said to have miraculous powers. A protective silver cover is drawn up in a twice-daily ceremony. The "showing" is always very crowded. Beware of pickpockets.


Wieliczka

Wieliczka is about 8 miles from Cracow in the sub-Carpathian foothills. Its main attraction is the salt mines, one of the biggest and oldest working salt mines in Europe. It still produces about 700 tons of pure salt a day, but it is estimated that there is only enough left to keep the mine open for 10 to 20 more years.

20 of the worked-out salt chambers have been opened to the public along a one and a half mile route, which descends through three levels to a depth of 442 feet. The mine was recently declared a historical monument of worldwide importance by UNESCO.

The most breadth-catching chamber in the mine is the enormous 180-foot-long Chapel of St. Kinga, hewn out of the rock salt and illuminated by salt-crystal chandeliers. Lovely salt statues and reliefs are everywhere. Below, on a second level, are two chambers with small lakes leading through to the huge Staszic Chamber, with a stage, bar and even sports facilities for the miners.

But the most interesting section is undoubtedly at the deepest level, containing the air-conditioned museum of Polish salt mining, complete with lecture hall, library and small coffee bar. The museum's historic documents, wooden treadmills, wagons and mining tools go back to the 13th century when mining began here. Other exhibits indicate that man was producing salt in the vicinity as early as 3,500 BC.

This remarkable underworld has been exploited in yet another way. The microclimate is such that in 1964 a sanatorium for respiratory illnesses located 735 feet underground was opened. Patients go below for treatment. Another sanatorium, which can take 1000 patients at a time, has recently opened.

The town of Wieliczka itself offers some interesting sightseeing. If time allows, visit the 16th century wooden Church of St. Sebastian.

Please be advised that a visit to the Salt Mines may require some climbing up and down ladders.


Zakopane

Zakopane is Poland's "winter capital"... 2,626 feet, high in the dramatic Tatra Mountains along the Slovak border. It is the top winter-sports resort in the country. The most interesting sights for tourists will be in Old Town. Here you'll see plenty of traditional mountain chalets with their carved gables and steeply sloping roofs.

Tourism is keeping fold traditions and costumes alive in Zakopane. There is a funicular to the top of Gubalowka, just above the town, and a cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch which is the most famous skiers mountain in Poland, with a mountain-top restaurant right on the border with Slovakia.

The whole Zakopane area is well equipped with chair and trapeze lifts, and their are four ski jumps. The deep alpine pastures, clear mountain streams and waterfalls in the area draw thousands of visitors in the summer. The whole area surrounding Zakopane has been declared a National Park, and you're likely to see eagles, chamois, marmots, lynxes, and even bears. In spring, there are flowering fields of wild crocus.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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