This month we are exploring Poland and the journey from Wrocław to Przemyśl, a total distance of 513 kilometres.
We begin in Wrocław, a city in south-west Poland, not far from the borders of Czech Republic and Germany, along the Oder River. Wrocław is one of the oldest cities in Poland with a beautiful old town, a variety of architecture, beautiful parks and amazing food.
Wrocław is best known for its magnificent Market Square or Rynek, at the heart of the city. Full of elegant town houses, restaurants, cafes and shops, as well as Wrocław’s Multimedia Fountain which, comes alive with music, hundreds of lights and water jets. The Town Hall is a prominent feature on the square. This gothic building is stunning and houses the Museum of Bourgeois Art, a basement restaurant and is also used for temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
As you walk around the city you can’t miss the famous brass dwarfs. Now a symbol of the city, they adorn the streets and every one is different. See how many you can spot…
On the north bank of the Oder River is the oldest part of the city, Ostrów Tumski or ‘Cathedral Island’. Cross the Tumski bridge full of love locks and explore the cobbled streets lined with old traditional gas lamps. Check out the stunning Gothic Cathedral of St John the Baptist; from the top of the tower you can see wonderful views over the city, the Botanical Gardens and the Archdiocese Museum.
Other highlights of Wrocław include Racławicka Panorama, a painting depicting the Battle of Racławice, The Cathedral of St Mary Magdalene with its open-air ‘Witches Bridge’, Wrocław University with its Mathematical Tower, Aula Leopoldinum and Oratorium Marianum halls.
This week we continue our journey leaving Wrocław and heading south east to Katowice a distance of 190 kilometres.
Following the Odra Valley upstream we reach the medieval town of Brzeg. Attractions include the magnificent renaissance Brzeg Castle with the Museum of Silesian Piasts found inside, the baroque architecture of The Raising of the Holy Cross Church located next to the castle and St. Nicholas Church with fabulous stained glass windows.
Next we reach Opole, one of the oldest cities in Poland, this picturesque city has a lovely market square and Piast Tower is the main landmark in the city. Gliwice is the next stop before reaching Katowice.
Katowice is a city in the Silesian Region of southern Poland on the banks of the river Rawa. It is Poland’s main industrial centre, a mix of modern and historical architecture. One of the main attractions is the Silesian Museum, many of the exhibition spaces have been adapted from the former shafts and tunnels of the Katowice Coal Mine which the Museum now occupies, including a viewing tower in the previous mine shaft hoist tower. Also not to be missed is a visit to Silesia Park, an extensive green area of 6.2 square kilometres which is also home to the Silesian Planetarium, Silesian Zoological Garden and Upper Silesian Ethnographic Park.
Katowice is 27 kilometres from Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum and frequent tours run from the city. It is possible to take a train to Oświęcim which takes around 48 minutes and then there is a 1.2 kilometre walk. Admission to the grounds is free but must be booked in advance.
Kraków is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland dating back to the 7th century.
In Kraków’s Main Square, you will find Town Hall Tower and the ‘Eros Bendato’ statue on the far side of the Cloth Hall. The Rynek underground museum explores 700 years of history with artefacts and reconstructions.
St. Mary’s Basilica is the jewel of Kraków’s Old Town. This brick Gothic church was built in the late 13th century and its two towers of differing heights form one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter, has a great selection of cafes and restaurants to sample some traditional polish food or, for a quick snack, perhaps try some street food. You can also explore the older part of town and visit the oldest synagogue in Kraków (also one of the oldest in Europe).
Wawel castle, overlooking the Vistula River, is one of the most noticeable landmarks in Kraków. The architecture is a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Early Baroque due to it being captured and occupied by various rulers during its long history.
This week we explore Przemyśl, the final destination of this month’s journey through Poland. The town is situated at the foot of a hill, offering mountainous views and is located only a few kilometres from the Ukrainian border. It lies on the San River offering an important trade route to Central Europe.
Casimir Castle was built from 1340 by King Casimirus the Great, on the hill towering over the city in the place of an older settlement. It was thoroughly renovated in the 16th century in Renaissance style and in 1842 the beautiful Castle Park was added.
Przemyśl’s modern museum presents well-curated permanent exhibitions on the city’s prehistoric and medieval times, its Jewish history and the story of Przemyśl Fortress during World War I (among other themes). Temporary exhibitions explore subjects such as the art of the Hutsul people of Ukraine and Poland, or the traumatic experience of the city during World War II.
The remnants of Austria-Hungary’s Przemyśl Fortress surround the town. These were mostly earth ramparts, although they are now overgrown and resemble natural rather than artificial bulwarks. They’re a fair distance out of town, but among the best examples are Fort I (Salis Soglio) in Sieliska, Fort VIII (Łętownia) in Kuńkowce and Fort XIII (San Rideau) in Bolestraszyce. The tourist office can provide information about the sites and transport details.