Trip to Poland next summer

Discussion in 'Travel' started by robertchura, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. I am planning a trip to Poland next summer and I am looking for some interesting locations. The agenda includes Warsaw and Gdansk areas. Auschwitz is also included.
    I generally like to photograph abandon buildings and architecture but other places would work.
    Any suggestions?
  2. Hi Robert, I can tell you a bit about Warsaw but I haven't been to G'dansk since my first trip to Europe about 10 years ago. There is of course the Old and New Towns which has some beautiful architecture from 15/16th C (though it has been completely rebuilt after being destroyed during the war). There are many churches to see too - some very simple and others very ornate. Also some Russian Orthodox churches which are magnificent. Personally I like wandering around the main city area and inner suburbs where there is a mixture of late 19th C, pre-war and soviet architecture - all depending on what was destroyed.
    In the former Ghetto area (and a few places elsewhere) there are still some old tenement houses now run down and more or less abandoned. Mostly they are boarded up but sometimes you can get into the courtyard areas (see here . Mostly now-a-days doors and gates to buildings are locked but sometimes through luck etc you can get access to the entrance halls which sometimes have lovely stair cases and floors.
    There are also quite a few abandoned factory/warehouse sites. Some are well fenced of but in many places the fences are trashed or in bad repair ( I haven't ventured into these myself. Just be careful as some of these places are used by drug users etc or sometimes they are guarded.
    The main Jewish cemetery in Warsaw is well worth a visit. There are many very old tombs etc. Just as long as you are respectful and wear a hat, photos seem to be ok.

    Krakow was much less damaged by the war so much of it's early architecture is still standing. The market square of course, the Jagiellonian University buildings (one of the earliest universities established in Europe). There are a number of Synagogues, some of which are very old. The Royal Castle and churches too. Though just be mindful that it will be very crowded in summer.
    My wife who is Polish also suggests Torun which has a beautiful medieval old town and Zamość which is renowned for Renaissance architecture. I haven't yet been to these places myself. Also while in G'dansk you might want to see Malbork Castle ( a Teutonic Knights castle. It has been extensively restored after the war though.
    Sorry for the long ramble but hope this will give you something to go on.
    Best regards
  3. Since you're in the area, try checking out Wieliczka (salt mines). Also, you could go to Zakopane for some fresh air, which is further South and in the Tatry mountain region. The architecture in this area is quite different (chalet type) and sometimes you can spot a mini church or two....more like a (temple) .
    Warsaw is quite modern (overall) and you'll be pressed to find anything in shambles....if anything it would be due to neglect or lack of funds...during recent political regimes.
    You can find some quiet villages on the Baltic Sea not far from Gdansk...either by rail or bus.
    While in Krakow, you can get on the other side of the river and get a nice night shot of the castle.
  6. Thanks Laurie!. You have some great looking images!
    Leszrk, Thanks for the salt mines. I have heard about them and would love to see them
    Igor, I don't read Polish but I think you are sending me Hotel info. I will be staying with friends
  7. Robert, it is about abandoned
    buildings you like to
  8. Hello Robert,

    I have read Laurie's post and I have to disagree with some of the things written. For a photographer, especially one specifically interested in architecture, the best locations are Kraków, Gdańsk, Poznań and, Wrocław, in that order. Warsaw was completely leveled by the Germans during WWII so whatever you see there now has been completely rebuilt from the ground up in the last 60 to 70 years. In Malborg there is the Teutonic Knight's castle which is well worth seeing. I haven't seen either Zamość or Toruń.
    I would suggest the city of Sandomierz. During Russian offensive in 1945 the Russian Colonel in charge looked through his binoculars at the city. Although he was supposed to attack he was taken by its beauty and spared it from destruction. You can google all the cities I have mentioned to see images before visiting.

    Have good trip,

  9. Thanks for that link Igor D., that's a really useful site.
    p.s. if you don't read Polish flag, then click the English flag. The website is in English too.
  10. Hi Robert...Warsaw city visited every year by thousands of tourists from all over the world, especially during the summer. Warsaw tourist attraction like old town, Rising Museum, Palace of culture and science. The National Stadium in Warsaw was built for the European Football Championship UEFA EURO 2012. There are many places you can travel. I wish you had a great summer and you take best photos.
  11. Hi there! I really like Poland and I think that it is one of the best european countries to visit, because it is relatively cheap but beautiful and very interesting. I usually go to Warsaw, because I have many friends there. The Old Town is truly amazing and beautiful .And there is a great restaurant there - New Orleans. They have delicious food in their offer and the atmosphere is very elegant and exclusive. One of my favourite spots in Warsaw!
  12. I have only been to Krakow, but it is one of my favorite cities in Europe. As others above have mentioned, the architecture is exceptional and was largely spared destruction during WWII, primarily because it was made the "capital" of the pseudo-state that the Nazis set up there under the leadership of Hans Frank. In fact, one of the must see sights in Krakow is Wawel Castel, the home to the Polish kings that was turned into Nazi HQ during the war. Besides being a city of incomparable charm and beauty, the currency is the Polish Zloty and the exchange rates are very favorable We stayed in the best hotel in the old town (right on the corner of the Square) for around $110/night.

    If you like architecture, you will have a ball in the old town. By the way, Wawel Castle is NOT in the old town, nor is the Jewish Ghetto (Kazimierz). Be sure to visit both of these areas as well as the Old Town. Remember that Shindler (of the list) had his factory in Krakow so when Speilberg shot the film, he donated some serious money toward restoring Kazimierz.

    The salt mine is worth the short trip out of town and of course Auschwitz is something that is mandatory on any visit to Krakow. You will need to devote a full day to the camp visit and don't do it on your own. There are hundreds of tours organized from the Old Square that include the bus ride to, from and between (there are 2 Auschwitz camps about 20 minutes drive from each other - the main camp and the even more infamous death camp of Birkenau) and a knowledgeable guide to narrate the horror. Be advised that while Auschwitz is a must see destination, it is not a particularly pleasant way to spend a day. The impact on tourists (both Jewish and non-Jewish) is palpable. It can be seen on the bus ride home. It is a draining day that hits most visitors hard. I found that I kept having to remind myself that this place was fully operational a scant 71 years before I was there.

    One last point about photo ops - I am obviously a photographer, yet I elected not to bring any camera gear to Auschwitz. I came to that decision based on a previous experience visiting Dachau while in Munich years ago. I had my gear with me then and did not shoot a single frame. What was I going to shoot? What image taken in a death camp would I display? So at Auschwitz, I went without the gear and don't regret it for a moment. Many people were shooting constantly, but I failed to see the point. In order to enter Birkenau (Auschwitz 2 - the death camp) you must walk through the infamous gate with the railroad tracks running into the camp. You will recognize the image immediately. Many got down low on the tracks shooting back toward the gate to record the image. I didn't need to do that, nor did I need to photograph the "Arbeit Macht Frei" metal sign over the entrance to Auschwitz proper. What would be the point other than to say 'I was there"?

    As you may have discerned, I am still emotional when thinking back on that one day of 5 that I spent in Krakow. Loved Krakow itself; profoundly disturbed by Auschwitz, but would suggest that the visit there is not to be missed for any reason.

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