Saturday, March 25, 2017
   
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Southern Poland

Visit to Wieliczka Salt Mine (part II)

Due to the danger of underground work, the miners are religious; they are also very talented. We saw evidence of the talent in awesome salt sculptures made by miners themselves; some are whimsical gnomes, and other sculptures pay tribute to Poland's political heroes, to Pope John Paul II, and to Copernicus. We saw evidence of faith in the chapels within the mine, the grandest one being the Blessed Kinga Chapel.

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Visit to Wieliczka Salt Mine (part I)

Touring Wieliczka's Salt Mine is a favorite memory for my family members who have been fortunate enough to visit there. My most recent visit brought new experiences, because my niece Cecilia, who was traveling with me, insisted that we venture out on our own, not with a formal tour group. We followed the advice of several tour books that instructed us to take the bus from Krakow. All lined up outside the bus depot, it was easy to locate the small buses labeled for Wieliczka. We paid 2 zlotys ($0.50 USD at the time (2003 year), check the current prices) and took our seats. After the short 10km (6-mile) ride, we walked the 2 blocks to the Salt Mine entrance, and bought tickets for the English-spoken tour. We also bought the permit for Cecilia to take pictures during the tour. Even though you can purchase a large selection of picture books, the privilege of showing off your own photography is well worth the 10 zlotys.

Read more: Visit to Wieliczka Salt Mine (part I)

   

Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp: Advice from a Tour Guide

You have to see Birkenau (Brzezinka) with its train unloading ramp, and the wooden stables to fully understand the horror of Auschwitz. Some of the wooden barracks once served as stables for just over fifty hourses - then after some modification they had to accommodate up to 1000 prisoners. The maximum number of people who lived in any one time in Birkenau concentration camp was up to 100,000 people (1944).

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Kazimierz: Krakow's Jewish District

Kazimierz was founded as a separate town by King Casimir the Great in 1335 and was named after this king. In the late 15th century Jews from Krakow were moved there. THey established a separate Jewish town with their houses, businesses, synagogues and cemeteries. The character of this city, later a district of Krakow changed dramatically with the World War II. Nazi moved Jewish population of Krakow to a ghetto, which was established outside of original Kazimierz. As a consequence of the holocaust two thirds of the residents of Kazimierz died either in the ghetto or in the extermination camps. Only six thousands Polish Jews came back to live there but many of them subsequently emigrated to the USA, Israel etc.

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Polish Mountains

The southern border of Poland in its eastern and central part is occupied by Carpathian Mountains. Carpathians mark the natural boarder between Poland and Slovakia and other countries. They are second largest mountain chain in Europe stretching from Poland and Slovakia to Romania.

The most eastern part of Carpathians which border with Ukraine consists of mountains Bieszczady. Bieszczady belongs to Eastern Carpathians and are build out of mild sandstone. They are covered mainly with grass and forest, the highest peak ~ 1,3 km high. Bieszczady belong to very few enclaves in Poland which conserved their pristine landscape and atmosphere. Bieszczady are the perfect place for hermits and people who want to relax. This place was almost completely deserted after the WW II. The ethic minority of Lemk were resettled to other regions because of fights for their independence after WW II.

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This is Brande from Uganda with a photo of Ela, my daughter.

Polish Pottery

Polish pottery