Poland is an interesting country with many interesting Poland facts to know! Thanks to its rich history, cultural heritage, and unique blend of Eastern and Western European influences there are plenty of things to learn. Poland’s location at the crossroads of Europe has resulted in a diverse and fascinating culture that has been shaped by various invaders, settlers, and political movements over the centuries.
Poland has a strong economy and is home to many famous landmarks and tourist destinations, such as Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and the Tatra Mountains. Before you venture to Poland, or plan a trip there, brush up on these fun and interesting facts about Poland.
Facts About Poland
1. A Daring Rescue
During World War II, German Nazis had their eyes set mainly on Polish Jews as Poland was home to more than three million Jewish people. It was millions of Polish citizens who staged a mass rescue of more Jews than any other country managed to free. Estimates are that more than 400,000 Jews were provided shelter during this time.
2. Poland is Home to one of the Oldest Restaurants in Europe
You’ve heard of Polish food, but have you ever heard this fact about Poland? While in Poland, you must try some of the traditional cuisine and what better way is there to dine on traditional Polish food than in the oldest restaurant in the country?
Actually, Piwnica Swidnicka is one of the oldest restaurants in Europe having been opened in 1273, and this historic place serves up the best pierogi around.
3. The World’s Tallest Structure was Once in Poland
It collapsed in 1991, but from 1974 until that time, the Warsaw Radio Mast was the tallest structure in the world at 2,121 feet tall.
4. A Land of Diversity
If you think the landscape of Poland is flat, boring and bland, guess again! This beautiful country’s natural environment is among the most diverse on the entire continent. With old forests, spectacular mountain chains near Zakopane, sparkling lakes, sandy beaches, sprawling deserts, towering dunes and fascinating wetlands, there’s much to explore across this land!
5. One Man, One Voice
If you’re ever in Poland and want to catch up on some of your favorite movies or TV shows from back home, you might want to think again as it can be a dreadful experience! This is because foreign language films are not dubbed by actors but by one single man who dubs the dialogue for all the characters including women and children.
6. There’s an Upside Down House in Poland
This is one of my most favorite facts about Poland. The village of Szymbark only has 500 people but it’s a major tourist attractions for one reason – the first upside down house in the world! Since 2007, people have been coming to get a glimpse of this fascinating anomoly, and now there are several similar sites in other countries.
7. Seeing Red and White
The national colors of Poland are red and white. The red is for love, sacrifice and bravery and the white is for goodness and pure intentions.
8. A Very Religious Country
In a world that seems to be moving away from the church, Poland still maintains a closeness to religion with more than 90% of the population claiming to be religious. This makes Poland one of the most religious countries in Europe, with the majority of Poles classifying themselves as Christian.
9. Poles Choose their Children’s Names Carefully
Technically, you can name your child whatever you want in Poland, but some names could cause you a lot of hassle. If the Head of the Civil Registry thinks a chosen name is inappropriate, they can refuse to register a child. While there is no specific list of inappropriate names, the ones that are deemed so are commonly known among Polish people and most parents steer clear of these offending names.
10. Warsaw Was Almost Totally Destroyed in WWII
This is far from one of the most fun facts about Poland, but an important one to know. When you visit the Old Town district of Warsaw today, you’re not actually seeing the original old town.
That’s because it was almost totally destroyed during the war in the 1940s. After the war ended, the district was rebuilt to look exactly as it did before the war using paintings that depicted the area as it was.
11. Refusing is the Polite Way to Go
In most places around the world, it’s ok to take someone up on an offer for food, a drink or a place to stay but in Poland, it’s considered polite to say no, at least the first time. Most Poles will politely decline an offer the first time it’s asked even if they are hungry or thirsty but if asked again, they will accept.
12. Poland is Home to the Oldest Working Salt Mine in the World
Situated near Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine has been in operation since the Middle Ages making it the oldest salt mine on earth. This heritage site is worth a visit not only for its fascinating history, but for the beautiful walkways and decorative features that are made from the salt that’s mined there.
13. One Big Outdoor Festival
People from over the world come to Poland each year to attend the biggest outdoor festival in Europe known as the Pol’ and Rock Festival.
This music festival sees an average of 600,000 people attend the festivities every year and the best thing about it is it’s free to attend!
14. Valentine’s Day in Poland
Valentine’s Day in Poland is likely quite different from the one you’re familiar with. First of all, it’s called Kupala and it’s celebrated in June instead of February. On this day, men leap over bonfires and women anticipate one of the candle-lit wreaths that are sent floating down the river to come their way.
15. Poland is Home to the Biggest Castle Estate in the World
Built in the 13th century, the Castle of Teutonic Order isn’t just known for being very old; it’s also known for being the biggest Castle Estate in the world at 52 acres. If you wish to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site, and you should, you’ll find it in the town of Malbork.
16. Poland has the Second Oldest Constitution
Only the United States has a constitution older than Poland’s. May 3rd, 1791 was when the Polish constitution was written. However, it was short-lived as the country was partitioned 14 months later.
17. Poland Wasn’t Visible on Maps for over 100 Years
Poland has a superior, central location and is rich in resources. It’s for these reasons that for 123 years, the country was partitioned and therefore quite literally wiped off world maps during that time. It didn’t reappear until after World War II.
18. A Traditional Greeting
It might come as a surprise to any woman visiting Poland for the first time that it’s customary for many men to kiss a woman’s hand rather than extending a hug or handshake.
19. A Famed Polish Astronomer
Nicolaus Copernicus was the man who discovered that the Earth rotates around the sun, but did you know that he was Polish?
20. Poland has Delicious Food
Polish food is anything but bland! You’ve likely heard of Pierogies, and nothing beats eating a traditional pierogie made the old-fashioned way! Despite their popularity, the pierogie isn’t considered the national dish of Poland.
That honor goes to a dish known as Schabowy which is a type of pork chop layered in egg and breadcrumbs before being fried with onion. Sounds delicious, right?
21. Poland has had Several Capitals
These days, Warsaw is the capital of Poland, but this vibrant city hasn’t always held that position! The cities of Gniezno and Krakow both also served as capital of Poland in the past.
22. A Rather Big Fortune
The Jagiellonian Dynasty had one of the biggest fortunes in all of Europe. So spectacular it was, its riches even surpassed that of other powerful empires such as Venice and Rome. Cannons, jewels, fountains and musician instruments were among the items in this fortune.
23. Poland has Many Nobel Prize Winners
Over the years, there have been at least seventeen Nobel Prize winners from Poland including Maria Skłodowska-Curie and Lech Wałęsa. That’s a big number for a fairly small country!
24. It’s not Easy to Learn the Polish Language
With unfamiliar letters, words that can be translated to several different things in English, hard to pronounce words and words that are spelled nothing like what they sound, Polish is one of the hardest languages on earth to learn!
25. There’s Something in the Name
The word Poland has an interesting background and meaning. It comes from an East Slavic tribe that lived near the Dnieper River known as the Polanie. The word itself means “people living in open fields.
26. Free Education for All!
Polish Citizens can attend college and university for free. If you wish to study as an international student in Poland, you won’t get free education, but you may qualify for a very low tuition cost.
27. Cats can be Employees too!
At the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, over 100 cats work at a very important job; keeping the mouse population down. They may not get paid with money, but their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. After all, the building would be infested with rodents if not for these furry and ferocious hunters! As a cat lover, this is certainly one of the most fun facts about Poland!
28. The Spelling of your Polish Last Name Depends on your Gender
In Poland, men and women have similar last names but with a slight change in the spelling depending on your gender. For example, a name ending in “ski” is male while the female version would end in “ska”.
29. Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring
Drowning dolls may sound like a strange tradition but it serves a fascinating purpose in Poland at the end of every winter. The tradition has local people making dolls just before spring arrives. At their arrival, these dolls, known as Marzanna Dolls, are “drowned” in a nearby river or lake as a way to say so long to winter and hello to spring.
30. A Unique Family Outing
Being outdoors in nature is a popular pastime for many Polish people but there’s one activity that has more appeal than any other – mushroom foraging.
Families and groups of friends and neighbors get together in September and October to head out into the countryside in search of edible mushrooms to use in the preparation of delicious dishes such as Polish pizza.
31. The Heavier the Better
Poland is known for its rich classical music heritage but today, it’s also known for being home to a huge number of heavy metal music fans. There are even festivals dedicated to this musical genre with one attracting many fans from all over the world.
32. Beer and Fruit Syrup Anyone?
Beer is very popular in Poland, but the local people like to drink it in an unexpected way you’ve likely never considered trying; they like to drink it with fruit syrup! These sweet syrups are often added to beer served in pubs around the country.
33. Vodka was Invented in Poland
If you thought Vodka was invented in Russia, guess again! One of the world’s favorite spirits was first mentioned in writing back in 1405 in Poland and all evidence points to it being invented there – so cheers to this amazing facts about Poland.
Russians are thought to be the biggest consumers of the drink, but the Poles certainly give them a good run for their money or, at the very least, come in at a close second. Many Polish people won’t fully trust someone until they get tipsy with them at least once and this is usually done over Vodka.
34. Yes, there is a Desert in Poland
Despite having a rather cold climate most of the year and the fact that we tend to associate deserts with warm climates, it might seem strange that Poland is home to one of the biggest deserts in Europe.
The Błędów Desert features the largest buildup of loose sand in the region, and it was created by a combination of natural processes and human activity.
35. Poles Celebrate their Name Day Every Year
We’ll end these facts about Poland with a super fun on! While birthdays are celebrated in Poland, the country also celebrates another yearly tradition – Name Day! Every Polish name is paired with a day of the year and any person who has that name has a celebration on that date. A typical name day celebration typically involves showering the person with flowers and vodka.
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