"THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND" Poland by LoriPori
Poland Travel Guide: 17,508 reviews and 47,281 photos
Officially the REPUBLIC OF POLAND, Poland is located in Central Europe and bordered by Germany to the West, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the South" Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the East and the Baltic Sea to the North. The total area of Poland is 312,679 square kilometers, making it the 9th largest country in Europe.
The longest rivers of Poland are the Vistula - 1,047 km / 651 miles long and the Oder - 854 km / 531 miles long. The Vistula and the Oder flow into the Baltic Sea.
Along Poland's southern border, lies the highest part of the Carpathians, the Tatra Mountains.
Many animal that have become extinct in other parts of Europe, still survive in Poland, such as the Wisent (Bison) in the ancient woodlands of the Bialowieza Forest. We had the opportunity to visit the Bison Center in Pszczyna.
Other species include the brown bear in Bialowieza, in the Tatras and in the Beskides, moose in northern Poland and beaver in Masuria, Pomerania and Podlachia.
Poland's two largest cities are Warsaw (3 million population) and Krakow ( 1.3 million population).
Krakow was the location of our Virtual Tourist 6th Euromeet 2010.
The second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland (dating back to the 7th century). KRAKOW is one of the leading centers of Polish academic, cultural and artistic life. It began as a Hamlet on Wawel Hill and was already a busy trading center in 965.
The city is a major attraction for both local and international tourists, attracting seven million visitors a year. I can attest to that, as there were tons of people there at the time of our visit.
The main landmarks include the Main Market Square, St. Mary's Basilica (photo #3). the Sukiennice Cloth Hall, Wawel Castle, Wawel Cathedral, the Medieval St. Florian Gate (photo # 1) and the Barbican.
Krakow boasts 28 museums and public art galleries. Krakow is known as the City of Churches with dozens of Roman Catholic places of worship. Krakow was once an influential center of Jewish spiritual life before the outbreak of WWII. There were at least ninety synagogues active before the Nazi German invasion of Poland, but most synagogues of Krakow were ruined during WWII.
Points of interest outside the city includes Wielicska Salt Mine, Tatra Mountains and the former Nazi Concentration Camp at Auschwitz.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Matt and Urszula and their many helpers, for an absolutely wonderful VT Euromeet 2010. Your outstanding organizing skills helped make this one of the best Meets ever. Lori and Hansi
Sunday May 30, 2010 - VT Group Tour to Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Historic WIELICZKA SALT MINE, located 10 km from the centre of Krakow, is the only mine in the world where mining has been continuous since the Middle Ages. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site September 9, 1978. Every year the salt mine (we called it a Gold Mine) attracts millions of tourists from around the world.
Constructed on nine levels, these excavations stretch for 300 kilometres and reach a depth of 327 metres. To enter the first chamber, visitors have to descend the stairs (380 steps in all) at Level I which is 64 metres below ground level.
The walk through the Salt Mine takes about three hours. As you walk, you will see magnificent formations such as chapels cut in the salt (Chapel of St. Kinga situated 101 metres under the ground), underground lakes and hundreds of stalagmites and stalactites. You will see on display, the tools used by the miners when they worked underground and the many sculptures made of salt.
A vast underground city, the Salt Mine also contains a restaurant and souvenir shops. The underground chambers also serve as venues for organizing conferences, banquets, parties, concerts and even weddings.
Going back up to the surface (135 metres) you use a special express lift up the Danilowicz Shaft from Level 3. Seven people were crammed in there at once. Remember, thousands of tourists visit every day and there is only one way up. In just minutes, we were up to the surface - amazing!
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