Unusual Must-see places in Poland
Chalk underground beneath Chełm
The corridors extending under the city of Chełm which were cored over the time of 700 years in the gigantic deposit of chalk, might be up 40 kilometers long. There was so much of chalk here, that for centuries, the citizens were extracting it straight from their basements, to sell it to itinerant merchants. According to the chronicles, in the 17th century 8 out of 10 houses in the centre of the city had descents to corridors cored by local miners. Over time they began connecting with one another, creating a unique, multi-level complex, reaching to even 20 meters beneath the ground.
The uncontrolled drilling of pavements lead to many disasters, out of which the most spectacular one was the collapsing of a busy street under a truck in the 1970s. The extraction of chalk under Chełm was already forbidden by the city government back in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, the properly secured part of the underground is a unique tourist attraction.
A 2-kilometer route is a journey through several centuries of history of the city and its surroundings, as well as a profile of the art of excavation engineery. It is often also a source of unconventional ideas and solutions. There is alos a chance for a shiver of emotions. The underground is home for bats and – as befits a mine – the legendary ghost known as Bieluch.
The amphitheatre at the mountain of St. Anna
This amphitheatre can hold nearly 50000 people, 7000 of which can sit comfortably at rocky benches. The German people began building it one year after Hitler came to power, in the place of the former limestone quarry, not far from Kędzierzyn-Koźle. They wanted to have a place for propaganda readings and rallies. There were supposed to be several hundreds of similar buildings built at the entire area of the Third Reich, although ultimately they only succeded to built 20.
In the late 1930s, 30 meters above the amphitheatre, at the steep slope, a mausoleum was built for 50 germans killed during the battle for the mountain of St. Anna. The low rotunda with narrow, rectangular windows, reminded people who lived in those times of a tank tower. Unfortunately, the building didn’t survive to modern times. Right after the Soviets gained this area, the building was demolished, and the stone was moved to Warsaw. Currently, in this place you can see a bulky,
PRL Insurgent Action Monument.
But the most interesting part is located under the amphitheatre. That’s because there is a whole network of corridors carved in the limestone, which serve for dehydration. But, according to conspiration theories, the pavements, which are today enhabited by bats, were extending all the way to hte underground of the castle in a village of Żyrowa, located a biut more than 3 kilometers away.
The Gold Mine in Złoty Stok
Floating in a boat of such a graceful name – „Titanic”, riding the Undergroubd Orange Tram, and even diving in a flooded shaft – these are just some of the underground attraction that the formerc gold mine in the Lower Silesia Town of Złoty Stok has to offer.
But it was very close for this place to never welcome any tourists. Shortly after its opening in the 1990s, the surroundings were destroyed by the Flood of the Millennium and the isloated attraction began to bring nothing but losses. So a decision was made to sell the mine.
The new hosts were more lucky and had a lot of interesting ideas. They made a castiong for a gnome, who sneaks through the dark corridors, they dug up the only underground waterfall in Poland and opened the underground Museum of Cautions, Attentions and appeals („ The farmer gives to the cow, the cow gives to the farmer” is not the most absurd artefact in the collection)
They also began receiving dangerous anonymouses, because according to legend, Hitler’s soldiers buried an enormous treasure in the neighborhood of the mine (or maybe even in the mine itself). Today you can still see people sneaking with metal detectors in the local forests.
The Bismarck towers in western and northern Poland.
You can find them in the Lower Silesia, in Greater Poland and in the regions of lubelskie, zachodniopomorskie and warmińsko-mazurskie. There were nearly 250 Bismarck towers created in the entire Europe, with about a dozen still standing in Poland today.
They were all established to honor the „Iron Chancellor” Otton von Bismarck. Some of them were ordered by the goverment, but most of them were created from the initiative of the citizens of German villages and towns. That’s why they were built from practically anything – field stones, bricks, granites and sandstones. A few times in a year, fire was set on the top of these towers to payv tribute to the German politician.
The first Bismarck towers were established in 1869, but it wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th century, that the original design of these buildings was developed. According to this design, the buildings werew supposed to take shape of mighty columns, culminated with a goblet and put at the top of of several steps. But there were no more than 50 buildings bguilt exactly based upon this design. Most of them resembled more of massive, nearly 20-meter bell towers or lghthouses. The most well-preserved ones can still be admired in several towns, including Ostróda
(warmińsko-mazurskie), Sobótka (dolnośląskie) and Żagań (lubuskie).
The Boyen Fortress in Giżycko
This fortress, which was built in the mid-19th century by the order of Fryderyk Wilhelm IV, was supposed to defend to eastern border of Prussia. The star-shaped complex, squeezed between the masurian lakes of Niegocin and Kisajno,was the headquarters of more than 3000 soldiers.
During the eventful history of the region, this place was alternately a barrack, an artillery store, a hospital and a training complex of Abwehra, an during World War II, there was an entirec laboratory, which tested the quality of food, which was supposed do get to Hitler’s headquarters in the Wolf’s Lair.
This isn’t the only fun fact. Behind the nearly 2-kilometer wall was the headquarters not only for soldiers, but also for intelligence post pigeons. They served for communication with other headquarters in the region, even with the far-away Wrocław, back in the times of World War I. They were also used by the German interview.
The post-war use of this fortress is also very interesting. For example, this was the location of Poland’s most fortified hen farm cheese-ripening room. This little-known, yet very special object can be visited on your own, or – especially recommended by histroy fans – with a guide, who will help you discover many alluring mysteries. And if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to take part in a historical reconstruction or a concert in the amphitheatre.
The „Koparki” scuba diving headquarters in Jaworzno.
Two diggers with spoons large enough to fit an adult man, a 13-meter ship, a BMW car, a magnificent fragment of a polonez Caro and a bunker. And all of that… sunken in the water, nearly 15 meters unnder the surface of the lake.
You can see all of that under Jaworzno in the Upper Silesia, at the area of the former quarry, in which back in the 1990s, dolomite was excavated. Howeve, the owners of the enterprise got into financial trouble and stopped paying electricity bills. So what happened? The power station stopped
delivering electricity and all the machines stopped. These included pumps, which dried the ground. In a short time, the area of the enitre quarry became a lake, to which today scuba divers are coming from all over Europe to swim.
There are bridges at the edges of the lake, and the underwater attractions are marked by buoys, so that nobody will fuss about missing an attraction. Unfortunatley, according to www.nurkomania.pl,
that can worsen the visibility, which fall down to… one meter.
But that only happens when a larger group goes scuba diving at the same time, muddying the water. In the winter however, when only the biggest amateurs of this sport come here, you can easily observe the depth of the lake up to even 10 meters around.
Inwałd Park in Inwałd
Theme parks are a great idea to spend time with the whole family. But five parks combined into one is already a challenge, that might be too big to fit in one day. And that’s the kind of attraction you can find in Inwałd, not far from Wadowice.
In a mighty miniature park you can take a selfie while standing in the middle of St. Peters’ Square in Vatican, or towering over the National Stadium in Warsaw. At the Luna Park you can challenge the labyrinth, ride the ferris wheel, the pirate ship or flow down the rapid river. You can get additional adrenaline by taking part in a 5D show, visiting the Egyptian haunted house, or trying to escape the bushty maze, which consists of 2000 square meters.
Fans of prehistorty will learn all about dibnosaurs and their habits. They will also be able to become a temporary archaeologist, or dive deep into the cave extending under the park. Fans of slightly less ancient times should definitely visit the medieval stronghold (Built here especially for them, along with an entire settlement), watch multimedia shows and see the fire-breathing dragon. And in the castle dungeon you can take part in one of the best attractions of the park – laser paintball.
At the end of the trip you can relax and calm down in a petting zoo or a giant, 3-hectare park. Thus is a unique place not only thanks to 8 kilometers of alleys, but mostly because from above you can see that the park shapes up to the world’s largest painting of John Paul II. And for good reason – The park is located rightb next to Wadowice.
The mosque in Kruszyniany
The oldest surviving tatar mosque in Poland was built in the late 18th and early 19th century in a village, which was given to the Tatars by king Jan III Sobieski. It was a sign of royal gratitude for the help in defeating the Turks under Vienna, in which the Tatars played są huge part.
Although the building itself is not very big, it leaeves a gigantic impression on anyone who visits it. The wooden construction might remind you of a countryside church (which might fool some people). But by crossing the doorstep (Don’t forget to take your shoes of) we move on into an exotic world like that from „1001 Arabian Nights”, covered in carpets and muhiras.
The history that we can discover in this village, located 50 kilometers away from Białystok, is proof, that in Poland Islam is not such an unknown culture as you might think. The stories that you’ll hear from the local guides will allow you to look at the muslim culture in a whole new light and get more familiar with it. It is also possible thanks to the perfectly preserved Tatar cemetery, a visit to which is part of the tour of the mosque.
An obligatory part of the program is also a visit to to the Tatar Yurt, afwhere zafter the spiritual feast visitors can also have something to eat. As long as it complies with the rules of Islam, of course.
„Świdermajery” in the surroundings of Otwock.
Although this was home to Janusz Korczak, Władysław Reymont and Irena Sendlerowa, and there is no other gathering of wooden houses built in this style anywhere else in Poland., today they are only mentioned when one of them burns. Some fall victim to purposeful burning, because they stand on valuable plots, other slowly fall apart, because it doesn’t pay off to renovate them. Today there are nearly 400 surviving „Świdermajery”.
And back in the 19th century, rich Jews and townspeople from Warsaw were coming here to find peace in local pine tree forests. „Świdermajery”, as they were facetiously called by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, reminded them of alpne houses and resorts.
Built almost entirely from wood, ornamented with openwork decorations, they were born in the head of one man – artist Michael Elwiro Andriolli, who in the 1880s bought nearly 200 hectares of ground upon the river of Świder and began building one-family houses. They were first used as summer houses, but over time people began to live here all year long, because Otwock was actually a year-round resort, in which the finest people of Warsaw spent all the free time they could.
The Bieszczady Bicycle Draisines in Uherce Mineralne
A bicycle trip is an interesting way for an active vacation in Bieszczady. But if the bicycle is moving down the railway tracks, the level of attractions is rising even more. And thart’s the possibility you get if you travel by a 4-person draisine, only driven by the power of the tourists’ muscles. That’s the way how from the starting station in Uherce Mineralne – after the obligatory visit in the railway museum – you can get to Łukawica, Stefkowa, Jankowice or Załuża by following the restored, 130 year old route. You can also get from Ustrzyki Dolne to Krościenko or Ustjanowa.
The unconventional trips, which last year were hailed by the Polish Tourism Organization as the Best Tourist Product, are between 12 and 24 kilometers long. So you can adjusrt their length to the conditions of the tourists. There is also a possibility of taking a shorter, 4-kilometer trip, under the care of a naturalist, who will embelish the thrills from the ride and admiring the surroundings with stories about local nature and shows the you the tools which are used today by biologists to watch wild animals.
Participants confess, that they are mostly impressed by riding the draisine through the railway tunnels. And if that still doesn’t fulfill your attraction hunger, you can always change your mean of transport by the river San. If you get here by a draisine, you can ride the pontoon to Sanok