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Rzeczpospolita Polska
Republic of Poland
Flag of Poland
Coat of arms of Poland
flag coat of arms
Official language Polish
Capital Warsaw
Form of government Unified state based on a presidential-parliamentary republic
Government system presidential-parliamentary democracy
Head of state President
Andrzej Duda
Head of government Prime Minister
Mateusz Morawiecki
surface 312,696 km²
population 38,386,000 (as of June 30, 2018)
Population density 123 inhabitants per km²
Population development   0.0384% per year
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 586.0 billion ( 22. )
  • $ 1,212.9 billion ( 22. )
  • 15,431 USD ( 59. )
  • 31,939 USD ( 48. )
Human Development Index   0.872 ( 32nd 2018)
currency Zloty (PLN)
founding 960–992 A.D.
independence November 11, 1918
National anthem Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
Time zone UTC + 1 CET
UTC + 2 CEST (March to October)
License Plate PL
ISO 3166 PL , POL, 616
Internet TLD .pl
Telephone code +48
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Map of Poland with the capitals of the voivodeships. The most important coastal waters, the largest lake and the highest mountain are also marked.

Poland ( Polish Polska [ˈpɔlska] Listen ? / I , officially the Republic of Poland , Polish Rzeczpospolita Polska , [ʐɛʈ͡ʂpɔsˈpɔlita ˈpɔlska] ? / I ) is a parliamentary republic in Central Europe . Capital and largest city of the country Warsaw ( Polish Warszawa ), the largest metropolitan area, the metropolitan region to Katowice ( Katowice ). Other cities with over 400,000 inhabitants are Kraków ( Kraków ), Lodz ( Łódź ), Breslau ( Wrocław ), Poznan ( Poznań ), Danzig ( Gdańsk ) and Stettin ( Szczecin ). Poland is a unitary state divided into 16 voivodships . With a size of 312,696 square kilometers, Poland is the sixth largest country in the European Union and with 38.5 million inhabitants the fifth most populous. There is predominantly the oceanic climate in the north and west and the continental climate in the south and east of the country. Audio file / audio sample Audio file / audio sample

In the early Middle Ages , tribes of the western Polans settled in parts of today's national territory as part of the migration of peoples . A first documentary mention took place in 966 under the first historically attested Polish Duke Mieszko I , who opened the country to Christianity . 1025 was the Kingdom of Poland established until 1569 by the Union of Lublin to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for the Royal Republic of Poland-Lithuania united and became one of the largest and most influential countries in Europe. During this time, in 1791, Europe's first modern constitution was drawn up .

Deprived of its sovereignty by the neighboring states due to the three partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence with the Treaty of Versailles in 1918. The invasion of the German Reich and the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Second World War and their rule of occupation cost the lives of millions of Polish citizens, especially Polish Jews . Since 1952 as the People's Republic of Poland under Soviet influence, the country experienced a political and economic system change in 1989, especially as a result of the influence of the Solidarność movement . Poland has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and is a strong economic force in Central Europe.

In terms of gross domestic product, Poland ranks 22nd among the world's largest economies . In the Human Development Index Poland reaches a high level (2019: rank 32 with index value 0.872). Located between Western and Eastern European cultural areas and characterized by an eventful history, the country developed a rich cultural heritage . Some of its citizens made important contributions to the natural and social sciences, mathematics, literature, film, and music. Poland is a member of the United Nations , the OSCE , NATO , the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Country name

Denarius Princes Polonie defeated around 1000 AD

The full name of Poland is Rzeczpospolita Polska , in German Republic of Poland . The term Rzeczpospolita explicitly refers to the aristocratic republic that existed until 1795 and is not a mere translation of the term republic , in Polish republika . In contrast to its Latin meaning, people's cause or public cause , the term Rzeczpospolita literally means common cause or common concern . The term Rzeczpospolita is reserved for the Republic of Poland only, other republics are simply referred to as Republika in Polish .

The name Poland is derived from the West Slavic tribe of the Polans ( Polanie ), who in the 5th century settled in the area of ​​today's Greater Poland Voivodeship around Posen ( Poznań ) and Gniezno ( Gniezno ), between the rivers Oder ( Odra ) and Vistula ( Wisła ), settled down. The Polanen, whose name did not appear until around the year 1000, were mostly arable farmers; its name developed from the word pole , in German field .

In several languages, the name of Poland does not go back to the Polans, but directly or indirectly to a south-east Polish tribe in the area of ​​today's Subcarpathian Voivodeship around Przemyśl - the Lendizen ( Lędzianie ). The name of the legendary Polish ruler Lech , known from the sagas about Lech, Čech and Rus , may have played a role in the mediation in other languages . The name of this legendary ruler is in turn related to the Lendizen. So is Poland, for example in Latin Lechia (of which derived the German form Lech country ), in the Persian Lach Istan , the Lithuanian Lenkija and the name of the Poles in Turkish is lehçe , in Russian laughter and the Hungarian Lengyel .


Poland topo.jpg Europe topography map de.png
Physical card Location of Poland in Europe

Poland's national territory covers an area of ​​312,679 km², making it the ninth largest country in Europe and the eighth country in terms of population. Worldwide it occupies places 70 and 35 accordingly. The territory of Poland also includes the territorial sea on the continental shelf and the connecting zone in the Baltic Sea.

Poland has a total of 3,583 kilometers of national border , 524 kilometers of which in the Baltic Sea and 1,221 kilometers of the border runs along rivers. Poland borders a total of seven countries, making it one of the countries with the largest number of European neighbors. In the north it borders

in the east

in the south

in the west

  • GermanyGermany Germany (land border 467 km and sea border 22 km).

The northernmost point of Poland is Cape Rozewie , the southernmost of the summit of Opołonek in the Bieszczady . The distance between the two points is 649 kilometers. The westernmost point is the town of Cedynia , the eastern counterpart is the knee of the Bug in the Horodło commune , 689 kilometers away. In winter the day in the north of Poland is more than an hour shorter than in the south, in summer the day in the south is accordingly shorter than in the north. On the day of the equinox , the sun rises and sets around 40 minutes earlier in eastern Poland than in the west. Poland lies in the Central European Time Zone , the center of which is the meridian 15 °, which runs through the western voivodeships of Poland. The center of the graticule is at Ozorków , the focus deviates slightly from it. The geographical center is given as Piątek in the Łódź Voivodeship .


Fresh lagoon at Frombork
High Tatras - the Roztoka Valleys and the Five Polish Lakes Valley of Świstówka Roztocka

The territory of Poland can be divided into six geographical areas . From north to south these are: the coastal areas, the ridges, the lowlands, the highlands, the foothills and the mountains. The transitions between the individual areas are fluid and are delimited slightly differently in the literature.

The coast runs along the Baltic Sea in northern Poland . The coastal lowlands are narrow and widened in the shape of a tongue around the Stettiner and Fresh Haff . The landscapes consist of flat, wide valleys and extensive ground moraine plates . Mainly sandy , loamy and peat soils dominate the soils .

The back landscape was created during the Ice Ages , which is evident from the design with terminal and ground moraines. The sand area in the south-eastern part clearly stands out from this. This is where the great Polish lake plateaus are located, which were shaped in the last Ice Age.

The connected lowland areas include the Silesian Plain , the North and Central Mazovian Plains and the South Podlaskie lowlands . They are part of the Central European Plain. The glacial valleys of the Vistula , Warta and Oder run through these .

The Polish highlands can be divided into three main parts, the Silesian-Cracow in the south, the Lesser Poland in the east and the Lublin highlands in the south-east. The Roztocze is partly included in the latter and partly viewed as an independent highland.

The foothills include the Silesian lowlands and the basin landscape of the Subcarpathian Mountains. A distinction is made here between the Ostrava Basin , the Auschwitz Basin , the Krakauer Tor and the Sandomir Basin . These are nutrient-rich loess soils that are among the best arable land in Poland.

In the south of Poland are the Polish low mountain ranges , the Kraków-Częstochowa Jura in the south-central Poland, the Świętokrzyskie Mountains to the east, the Beskids and Pienines in the south, the Forest Carpathians and Bieszczady in the south-east and the Sudetes with the Jizera Mountains , the Giant Mountains and the Kłodzko Highlands in the south-west . The Moravian Gate lies between the Sudetes and the Carpathians .

The only mountain range with a high mountain character and at the same time the highest elevation in the country is the Tatras with the High Tatras and the Western Tatras . The Tatras are geologically very diverse high mountains. All of the more than 70 Polish two-thousanders are located here.


Granite rocks in the High Tatras , Mengsdorf peaks above the Meerauge
Limestone cliffs of the Pienine rock belt that separates the Outer Carpathians from the
Inner Carpathians
Postglacial moraine landscape of the Suwalszczyzna

The deeper subsurface of Poland is made up of a mosaic of different crust segments of different origins and compositions. Although the older components only occur in the southern peripheral areas of the country, because large areas in northern and central Poland are covered by young sediments, the structure of the subsoil is also known in these areas through deep drilling .


To the northeast of a line that is marked by the places Ustka on the Baltic Sea and Lublin , there are rocks in the subsurface that form the southwestern continuation of the continent of Baltica . It is highly metamorphic gneiss and granulite that were last deformed during the Svekofennid orogeny 1.8 billion years ago. These rocks were intruded by anorthosites and Rapakivi granites 1.5 billion years ago and have been subject to slow erosion since then. From the Cambrian onwards, this old craton , the Baltic Shield , was covered by a shallow sea whose thin deposits can be detected as far as the Silurian .

To the southwest of the Baltic Shield is the 100 to 200 km wide zone of the Caledonids . The border zone between the Caledonids and the Baltic Shield, the Tornquist Zone , can be traced from Denmark to the Dobruja . The rocks of the Caledonian mountain range originated on the northern edge of Gondwana and were split off from this at the end of the Cambrian as an elongated, narrow microcontinent called Avalonia . The sea ​​space between Avalonia and Baltica, known as the Tornquist Ocean , was subducted as far as the Upper Ordovician , which led to collision and mountain formation. In the northern Heiligkreuzgebirge (Lysagoriden) one finds Caledonian deformed shelf sediments of the Baltic Shield, whereas the southern part (Kielciden) contains Precambrian rocks, which were originally part of Gondwana. The Małopolska massif in the southwest of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains is of Gondwanid origin, but it drifted north independently of Avalonia and only reached its current position as part of lateral shifts during the younger, Variscan orogeny .

The third large building unit is formed by the Variscan deformed Sudetes . In the early Ordovician, another group of microcontinents broke away from the northern edge of Gondwana and drifted towards Baltica due to the subduction of the Rheic Ocean . These small continents, to which the Bohemian mass and the Saxothuringian belong, collided with the southern edge of Baltica in the middle and upper Devonian. The West Sudetes (also called Lugikum ) with their highly metamorphic paragneiss series , into which the granites of the Jizera and Giant Mountains penetrated , emerged on Polish territory . Already in the Carboniferous , sunken parts of the Variscan Mountains were occupied by extensive, tree-lined fens , which are now documented in the seams of the Upper Silesian coal mining area.

The youngest mountain range is in southern Poland in the Carpathian Mountains . In the Eocene , the Tethys had closed and the Adriatic Plate , a spur of Gondwana, collided with the southern edge of Europe. In the Polish part of the Carpathian Mountains, sedimentary rocks from the Mesozoic and Palaeogene were pushed north onto the older basement.


During the Permian period in what is now central Poland a continuous subsidence of the folded subsoil began, so that sedimentary rock layers up to 10 km thick were deposited there. In the Rotliegend the deposits still contain rocks of volcanic origin, but from the Zechstein onwards marine conditions prevailed; Rock salt also formed in constricted lagoons . The sea ​​retreated in the red sandstone and up to 1,400 m of continental sands were deposited. Thereafter the area was mainly covered by a shallow sea until the end of the Mesozoic Era, in which limestones and clays came to be deposited. The older basement mountains (Heiligkreuzgebirge and Sudeten) were also covered by these young sediments until the end of the Chalk . It was not until the early Paleogene, about 55 million years ago, that the old mountain massifs were raised. In central Poland, only about 250 m of sand and clays were deposited during the Paleogene and Neogene . Large areas of the Polish lowlands lie under an almost closed blanket of moraine material as well as gravel and sand that were transported from Scandinavia by the glaciers of the last Ice Age .


The Vistula in Warsaw

The longest rivers are the Vistula ( Wisła ) km by 1022, the border river Oder ( Odra ) km 840, the Warta ( Warta ) 795 km and the Bug 774 km. The bow runs along the Polish eastern border. Like numerous smaller rivers in Pomerania, the Vistula and the Oder flow into the Baltic Sea. The two rivers determine the hydrographic - fluvial structure of Poland. The Alle ( Łyna ) and the Angrapa ( Węgorapa ) flow over the Pregel and the Hańcza over the Memel into the Baltic Sea. In addition, some smaller rivers, such as the Iser in the Sudetes, drain over the Elbe into the North Sea . The Arwa from the Beskids flows over the Waag and the Danube ( Dunaj ), just like some smaller rivers from the Forest Carpathians, over the Dniester into the Black Sea . 58.6 km² of water run off every year, of which 24.6 km² is surface runoff .

The Polish rivers were used for shipping very early on. Even the Vikings sailed the Vistula and the Oder with their long ships during their raids through Europe . In the Middle Ages and the modern era , when Poland-Lithuania , the breadbasket of Europe, was the shipment won of agricultural products on the Vistula toward Danzig ( Gdansk ) and on to Western Europe a lot of importance, of which many Renaissance - and Baroque granary in the cities along the Witness the river.


Poland is one of the most lake-rich countries in the world with 9,300 closed bodies of water that exceed one hectare in area. In Europe only Finland has more lakes per km² than Poland. The largest lakes with an area of ​​over 100 km² are Śniardwy ( Spirdingsee ) and Mamry ( Mauersee ) in Masuria, as well as Jezioro Łebsko ( Lebasee ) and Jezioro Drawsko ( Dratzigsee ) in Pomerania. In addition to the lake districts in the north (Masuria, Pomerania, Kashubia, Greater Poland) there is also a large number of mountain lakes in the Tatras, of which Morskie Oko is the largest in terms of area. The deepest lake at 113 m is Hańcza Lake in the Wigry Lake District , east of Masuria in the Podlaskie Voivodeship . It is followed by the Drawsko with 83 m and the mountain lake Wielki Staw Polski ( Great Polish Lake ) in the "Valley of the Five Polish Lakes" with 79 m.

The Wielkopolska Lake District was one of the first lakes whose banks were populated. The pile dwelling settlement of Biskupin , which was inhabited by more than 1000 people, was founded before the 7th century BC. BC members of the Lausitz culture . The ancestors of today's Poles , the Polans , built their first castles on lake islands ( ostrów ). The legendary Prince Popiel is said to have ruled Kruszwica on Lake Goplo in the 8th century . The first historically documented ruler of Poland, Duke Mieszko I , had his palace on an island in the Warta in Posen .


Dunes near Łeba

The Polish Baltic Sea coast is 528 km long and extends from Świnoujście ( Swinoujscie ) on the islands of Usedom and Wolin in the west to Krynica Morska on the Fresh Spit (also known as the Vistula Spit ) in the east. The Polish coast is largely a sandy compensation coast , which is characterized by the steady movement of the sand due to the current and the wind from west to east. As a result, many cliffs, dunes and spits form, which create many inland waters after they hit land, such as B. the Jezioro Łebsko in the Slowinzischen National Park near Łeba . The most famous spits are the Hel Peninsula and the Fresh Spit. The largest Polish island in the Baltic Sea is Wolin. The largest port cities are Gdynia ( Gdynia ), Danzig ( Gdańsk ), Stettin ( Szczecin ) and Świnoujście. The most famous seaside resorts are Świnoujście, Sopot ( Sopot ), Międzyzdroje ( Misdroy ), Kołobrzeg ( Kolberg ), Łeba ( Leba ), Władysławowo ( Großendorf ) and Jurata .


The Rysy is the highest peak in Poland
Mountain landscape of the Bieszczady

The three most important mountain ranges of Poland are from west to east the Sudetes , the Carpathians and the Świętokrzyskie Mountains . All three are in turn divided into smaller mountains. The mountains with the highest relief energy are the Sudetes, followed by the Heiligkreuzgebirge, both with values ​​of sometimes over 600 m / km².

The Sudetes are characterized by smooth, even surfaces at high altitudes and rugged formations in the valleys. The highest part of the Sudetes is the Giant Mountains . The mixed forest that originally covered the mountains has been replaced by spruce forests . The Krummholzzone begins at 1250 meters . With the Śnieżka (1602 m), the Giant Mountains are the third highest mountain range in Poland.

The majority of the Polish Carpathians is occupied by the Beskids , which at 1725 m in Babia Góra are the highest low mountain range in Central Europe. Other mountain ranges in the Polish Carpathians are the Gorce and Pieniny . The Forest Carpathians with the Bieszczady mountain range are located in the south-east of Poland . In the outer reaches of the Carpathian Mountains, soft shapes predominate. In their inner regions there is an alpine area with karen , horns, slope and trough valleys .

The Tatra Mountains on the Polish-Slovakian border are the only high mountains in Central Europe besides the Alps . Poland has about 70 named peaks with a height of over 2000 m. They are all in the High Tatras or Western Tatras . At 2,499 m, a secondary peak of the Rysy , also called the Meeraugspitze after the Karsee Meerauge , is the highest mountain in Poland in the High Tatras. Other well-known peaks in the High Tatras in which Poland participates are the Mięguszowiecki Szczyt Wielki (2438 m), the Niżnie Rysy (2430 m), the Mięguszowiecki Szczyt Czarny (2410 m) and the Mięguszowiecki Szczyt Pośredni (2393 m).


Until 2013, the place Raczki Elbląskie near Elbląg in the Vistula Delta in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship was the lowest point in Poland at 1.8 m below sea level . Since the remeasurement, Marzęcino near Nowy Dwór Gdański in the Pomeranian Voivodeship has held this record. Marzęcino is also located in the Vistula Delta.


Primeval forest in the Białowieża National Park

Poland is one of the most forested countries in Europe. The Polish forests cover an area of ​​9.1 million hectares or 29.2% of the country's area and the forest area is constantly increasing due to afforestation. According to the targets, the forest area should make up 30% of the land area by 2020 and 33% by 2050. In the east of Poland there are primeval forests that have never been cleared by humans, such as the Białowieża Primeval Forest . There are also large forest areas in the mountains, Masuria , Pomerania and Lower Silesia . The largest contiguous forest area in Poland is the Lower Silesian Heath . The Biebrza swamps , which make up 40% of the area of ​​the Biebrza National Park, are among the most biodiverse biotopes .

The last ice ages, especially the Vistula ice age, had a major influence on the composition of the flora in large parts of Poland . After the glaciers retreated, about 12 thousand years ago there was a tundra area in northern and central Poland. Deciduous trees became indigenous to Poland about 10 thousand years ago and the area was covered by dense mixed forest. With the subsequent global warming and the spread of humans, the flora has changed steadily in the following millennia. The Polish low mountain ranges in the south of the country, however, were not covered by the ice masses. The flora here was always rich in species, especially on the sunny and calcareous soils of the Pienines . In Poland there are around 3,000 native taxons , 67 vascular spore plants , 910 mosses , around 2,000 chlorophyta and 39 red algae .


The number of animal and plant species in Poland is the highest in the EU, as is the number of threatened species. For example, animals that are already extinct in parts of Europe still live here, such as the bison ( Żubr ) in the Białowieża Primeval Forest and Podlachia, as well as the brown bear in Białowieża, in the Tatra Mountains and in the Forest Carpathians, the wolf and the lynx in the various areas Forest areas, the elk in northern Poland, the beaver in Masuria, Pomerania and Podlaskie. In the woods you also meet small and big game ( deer , roe deer and wild boar ). The number of native animal species in Poland is estimated at 33 to 47 thousand. In total, there are over 90 mammals -, 444 birds -, nine reptiles -, 18 amphibians , 119 fish -, five jawless -, approx. 260 molluscs -, approx. 30 thousand insects -, approx. One and a half thousand arachnids - and approx 240 annelids - and around four thousand species of protozoa .

Poland is the most important breeding area for European migratory birds. Around a quarter of all migratory birds that come to Europe in the summer breed in Poland. This applies in particular to the lake plateaus and the wetlands, which are often protected by their own national parks, etc. a. the areas of the Biebrza National Park (since 1993), the Narew National Park (since 1996) and the Warta National Park ( Warta , since 2001). The lowland jungle of the Białowieża National Park (since 1932) is also a large breeding area for migratory birds.

Land use

The forest area makes up about 30% of the country's area. Pine and beech forests dominate much of Poland. Northwest Poland is dominated by beech trees, while spruce trees are more common towards the northeast . In the mountains of southern Poland there are mainly mixed oak and fir-beech forests. Over half of the area of ​​Poland is used for agriculture, although the total area of ​​the fields is decreasing and at the same time the remaining areas are being cultivated more intensively. The livestock is particularly widespread in the mountains. Over one percent of the area (3,145 km²) is protected in 23 national parks. In this regard, Poland ranks first in Europe. Three more are to be created in Masuria, in the Kraków-Czestochowa Jura and in the Forest Carpathians. Most of the Polish national parks are located in the south of the country. In addition, wetlands along rivers and lakes in central Poland and coastal areas in the north are protected. There are also numerous reserves and protected areas.

natural reserve

With 23 national parks, which make up about one percent of the country's area, Poland is one of the countries in Europe with the most national parks. The Tatra National Park is the most visited national park in Poland with over three million registered entries per year. The oldest and one of the most famous parks is the Białowieża National Park, founded in 1923 on the border with Belarus.


Exposure to sunlight

Poland's climate is a temperate transitional climate. Here the dry air from the Eurasian continent meets the humid air from the Atlantic . In the north and west there is mainly a temperate maritime climate , in the east and southeast a continental climate . The dividing line is the axis between the upper Warta and the lower Vistula .

From July to September the winds blow mostly from the west, in winter, especially in December and January, winds from the east dominate . In spring and autumn the wind directions alternate between west and east. The wind speed in the north is usually between 2 and 10 m / s, in the mountains winds of over 30 m / s are also measured. Foehn winds occur in the Tatras .

On 120 to 160 days the cloudiness is over 80 percent, on 30 to 50 days the cloudiness is below 20 percent. With an annual average of 1700 mm per year, the Tatras have the highest rainfall; the lowest rainfall falls with less than 500 mm north of Warsaw, at Jezioro Gopło , west of Poznan and near Bydgoszcz . Further north, the precipitation increases again to 650 to 750 mm. The wettest months are April and September. In the lower Oder-Warthe area, snow falls on around 30 days, in the northeast, the Carpathians and the Beskids it is 100 to 110 days. The snow remains in the mountains for 200 or more days.

The annual mean temperature is 5 to 7 ° C on the heights of the Pomeranian and Masurian Lake District and on the plateaus. In the valleys of the Subcarpathian , Silesian and Wielkopolska Plains , it is 8 to 10 ° C. In the higher regions of the Carpathians and Sudetes the temperature is 0 ° C. The warmest month is July with mean temperatures between 16 and 19 ° C. It is 9 ° C on the peaks of the Tatra and Sudetes, 16 ° C on the coast and 18 ° C in central Poland. The coldest month is January. There is frost from November to March. On the lower Oder and the coast on an average of 25 days and up to 65 days in the northeast around Suwałki .


Population pyramid 2016

Demographic structure

With about 38 million inhabitants, Poland has the eighth largest population in Europe and the sixth largest in the European Union. The population density is 122 inhabitants per square kilometer. The birth rate in 2016 was 1.34 children per woman. Life expectancy in the period from 2010 to 2015 was 77.6 years (men: 73.7, women: 81.7). The average age in 2016 was 40.3 years and was relatively low in European comparison. By the middle of the century, Poland is threatened with a significant increase in the median age and a decrease in the population to 33 million people. The reasons for this are the low birth rate and emigration. The number of births rose again in 2017, reaching more than 400 thousand live births for the first time in several years. At the same time, around 200,000 Ukrainians have moved to Poland since the war in the Donbas .

Biggest cities

Population density at Gmina level (as of 2016)

The population figures refer to the cities without the associated metropolitan areas.

rank Name in Polish Name in German S 1992 VZ 2002 VZ 2011 S 2016 Voivodeship
1. Lotnicza panorama Warszawy.jpg
Warsaw 1,644,515 1,671,670 1,700,612 1,753,977 Mazovia
2. Sukiennice and Main Market Square Krakow Poland.JPG
Krakow 744.032 758,544 757.611 765.320 Lesser Poland
3. Lodz Piotrkowska.jpg
Lodsch, Lodz 838,367 789.318 728.892 696.503 Łódź
4th Wroclaw-Rynek-7.2005.jpg
Wroclaw 640,663 640,367 630.131 637.683 Lower Silesia
5. Ayuntamiento, Poznan, Polonia, 2014-09-18, DD 73-75 HDR.jpg
Poses 582.919 578,886 554,696 540,372 Greater Poland
6th Gdansk Marienkirche profile (2011) .JPG
Danzig 461.680 461.334 460.276 463.754 Pomerania
7th Zamek Ksiazat Pomorskich w Szczecinie (widok z wiezy) .jpg
Szczecin 416,402 415,399 410.131 404.878 West Pomerania
8th. Bdg NoweSpichrze 7 07-2013.jpg
Bromberg 383,568 373,804 363,926 353.938 Kuyavian Pomeranian
9. Lublin, Royal Castle, 30-04-2010.jpg
- 350.377 357.110 349.103 340.466 Lublin
10. Katowice Rynek.jpg
Katowice 359,887 327.222 310.764 298.111 Silesia

(VZ = population census, S = estimate)

See also: List of cities in Poland


Polish-Kashubian signpost

Today's Poland has been ethnically homogeneous since World War II , which is unusual in Polish history. According to the 2011 census, 99.7% of the population are Polish citizens and 95.53% of them identify themselves ethnically as Poles , with 2.17% of these having a Polish identity in addition to their identity. After the Second World War, one of the goals of the communist regime was to achieve homogeneity through, among other things, forced resettlement or the assimilation of ethnic minorities . In the 1947 constitution , equality was guaranteed for citizens regardless of nationality; however, special rights for minorities were made possible in 1960. The protection of minorities has been anchored in the constitution since 1997 . The national minorities include the Germans with 0.28% (0.068%), Belarusians with 0.12% (0.081%), Ukrainians with 0.12% (0.068%) and Russians with 0.03% (0.013%) as well Lithuanians , Czechs , Slovaks and Polish Armenians . The ethnic minorities include Kashubians with 0.59% (0.042%), Roma with 0.04% (0.023%), Lemks with 0.03% (0.013%) as well as Tatars , Karaim and Jews . Silesians make up 2.1% (0.94%) of the Polish population, sometimes referring to themselves as Poles, partly as Germans, partly as Silesians and partly as belonging to several groups at the same time. The Law on National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Language was passed in 2005. Among other things, this regulates that in communities in which more than 20% of the inhabitants belong to a minority, their language can be used as an auxiliary language. The only recognized regional language is Kashubian , but signs and place-name signs are bilingual in areas with a German minority. Most of the foreign nationals who have immigrated in recent years come from Ukraine and Belarus . People from other EU member states, including mainly people from Germany, Italy , France and Bulgaria , have also moved to Poland in recent years. Poland is one of the most popular destination countries for German emigrants. Other numerically relevant migration groups come from Russia , Vietnam , the People's Republic of China , Turkey , Kazakhstan and Nigeria . The number of Poles abroad is estimated at up to 20 million. The number of Poles living in Germany is around 1 million, not counting dual nationals.


Polish dialects

Polish is the national language of Poland and belongs to the West Slavic group of Indo-European languages . In Poland in 1990 around 37 million of the 38 million inhabitants used Polish as a language in everyday life. About 8 million people outside of Poland used Polish within their families. After Russian , Polish is the most widely spoken Slavic language in the world. The Polish orthography is based on the Latin alphabet , which has been expanded to include letters with diacritical marks . These include Ą , Ć , Ę , Ł , Ń , Ó , Ś , Ź and Ż . The letters Q , V and X are officially part of the Polish alphabet, but only appear in foreign words. The Polish dialects are traditionally divided into five groups; Wielkopolska, Lesser Poland, Masovian, Silesian and Kashubian. In addition, there are so-called mixed dialects in the areas that emerged from the resettlement of Poles after the Second World War. Kashubian is also considered a language in its own right. Even if Polish had dominated everyday life since the end of World War II, Latin was the administrative , church and school language until the 18th century . In addition, Ruthenian was officially recognized in the aristocratic republic . The oldest Polish written documents known today are names and glosses in Latin documents, especially in the Bull of Gniezno of Pope Innocent II of 1136, in which almost 400 individual Polish names of places and people appear. The first complete sentence written was found in the chronicle of the Heinrichau monastery near Breslau . Among the entries from the year 1270 there is a request from a man to his wife who mills. "Daj, ać ja pobruszę, a ty poczywaj", which translates as: "Let me grind now and you can rest." Polish was used in literature from the 14th century and increasingly from the 16th century . Standard Polish also developed in the 16th century. During the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century, Polish was replaced by Russian and German. With the re-established Polish state in 1918 , the Polish language became the official language. At that time, around 65% spoke Polish as their mother tongue, the rest of the population spoke Ukrainian, Belarusian, German, Yiddish and others. After the borders were shifted to the west , Poland has been an ethnically relatively homogeneous state for the first time since the High Middle Ages since the late 1940s. About 95% to 98% of the population are Poles, and the dominance of the Polish language is correspondingly high. There are a number of minority languages ​​that have been officially recognized since 2005: Kashubian in Kashubia and as national minority languages: Armenian , German , Hebrew , Yiddish , Lithuanian , Russian , Slovak , Czech , Ukrainian and Belarusian, and as ethnic minority languages: Karaim , Russian or Lemko , Romani and Tatar .


According to a representative survey by the Eurobarometer , 80% of people in Poland believed in God in 2005 , and another 15% believed in another spiritual force .

Slavic mythology

The Polish tribes were originally pagans and, like other Western Slavs , had a polytheistic religious system whose main god was the four-headed Świętowit , whose statues were between Pomerania (e.g. at Cape Arkona on Rügen ) and the Ukraine (e.g. the " Antichrist from the Zburz ”) were found. This religion was partially able to maintain itself into the 14th century. In the north-east in particular, an ancestral cult was cultivated, which partly survived into the 19th century and was taken up again in the Romantic era by Adam Mickiewicz in his drama Funeral Celebration . There is a small effort to revive the old cults. But this is more a cultural than a religious phenomenon.

Catholic Church

In 965 the Duke of Poland, Mieszko I , married the Bohemian princess of Christian faith Dubrawka and was baptized according to the Latin rite the following year . The first diocese was founded in 968 in Poznan. The church order was reorganized in the year 1000 and the Archdiocese of Gniezno with the subordinate dioceses in Kolberg, Krakow, Poznan and Wroclaw were founded. In the first half of the 11th century there was a great pagan revolt against the Christian clergy. After the Polish aristocracy changed over to Calvinism in large numbers in the course of the Reformation, and there was even a Protestant majority in the Sejm around 1550, the Catholic Church was able to convert most aristocrats of different faiths back to the Catholic faith in the course of the Counter Reformation in the 17th century . Most of the country has been Catholic since World War II and Poland's shift to the west . 87% of the total Polish population are Roman Catholics (proportion of the total population baptized Catholics, 2011); before 1939 it was only 66%. Of these, 54% state that they also practice their faith. The late Pope John Paul II (1920–2005), who was Archbishop of Kraków as Karol Wojtyła before his election and played an important political role during the collapse of the Eastern Bloc , is particularly well-respected in Poland .

Orthodox Church

Nevsky Orthodox
Cathedral 1912

The Polish tribes probably came into contact with the Christian faith for the first time in the 9th century through the Great Moravian Empire . The Wislanes in Lesser Poland were subjugated by the rulers of the Great Moravian Empire at the time of the Byzantine Slav apostles Cyril and Method . According to Moravian chroniclers , Christianity according to the Slavic rite is said to have been introduced in the region around Krakow at this time . In the eastern voivodeships of Poland, the Orthodox Church has always dominated from the 14th century. Through the union with Lithuania in 1386 and 1569, many Belarusian- and Ukrainian- speaking Orthodox Christians came under the rule of the Polish kings. The Polish Orthodox Church is still the second largest religious community in Poland today. In 2006, 0.5 million people admitted to it, which corresponds to 1.3% of the population. Before 1939, 11% of the population belonged to the Orthodox Church.

Greek Catholic Church

Greek Catholic St. John's Cathedral in Przemyśl

Approx. 0.2% of the population are Greek Catholics . The Greek Catholic Church was established in Poland in 1596 through the Church Union of Brest . It was particularly widespread in the Polish part of Ukraine. After the partition of Poland, the Greek Catholic Church was persecuted particularly hard in Russia. With the immigration of Ukrainians to Poland since the Ukraine War in Donbas, the Greek Catholic community is growing rapidly again.

reformed Church

While Lutheranism found supporters among the bourgeoisie, Calvinism was popular with the petty nobility, the Szlachta . Calvin himself corresponded for a long time with the Polish King Sigismund II August , who for a time was inclined to the efforts of the majority of the Polish Sejm to establish a national church based on the English model in Poland-Lithuania, which should be designed according to the teachings of Calvin. The Sejm of 1555 debated the introduction of a Protestant national church in Poland. Instead of founding one, Sigismund II August granted his subjects freedom of belief, arguing that he was the king of his subjects, not the conscience of his subjects. Religious freedom was finally in response to the Paris Saint Bartholomew in the Warsaw Confederation raised in 1573 to a constitutional principle of the noble Republic, the newly elected Polish king of France in the henrician articles and all his successors in the Pacta conventa sign had. The safeguarding of individual freedom of belief in the Polish constitution was decisive for the fact that there never was any religious war in Poland . Calvinism was widespread among the Polish nobility until the middle of the 17th century. Today it hardly plays a role anymore due to the Counter Reformation in the 17th century.

Polish brothers

The Polish brothers were anti-Trinitarians , as part of the Radical Reformation under the influence of the doctrine of Socinianism the Trinity rejected and thus the God of Jesus property. From the Reformed Church the Unitarian Church of the Polish Brothers emerged in 1565 , which had its own academy in Raków and was strongly influenced by Fausto Sozzini and Socinianism . According to the Rakau Catechism , they rejected all forms of violence, including military service. The Polish Brothers no longer exist today. In the place of its former main church in Raków, there is now the Baroque Catholic Trinity Church .

Evangelical Lutheran Church

Trinity Lutheran Church

The Lutheranism found many followers since the 16th century, especially in the German population in the northern Polish cities. Today Warsaw and the region around Teschen , where around a third of the population is Lutheran, are centers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Poland. Approx. 0.2% of the population are Evangelical Lutheran .


The Old Catholic Mariavites form a small minority . The Catholic Church of the Mariavites was founded in Poland in the 1930s.

Polish Catholic Church

A small minority are the Polish Catholics, who, contrary to their name, are a Protestant denomination that originated in the USA in the 19th century and came to Poland through remigration in the 20th century .

Old Catholic Church

The Old Catholic Church in Poland, like the Polish Catholic Church from the USA, came to Poland through remigration.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Approx. 0.3% of the population are Jehovah's Witnesses .


Kruszyniany Islamic Cemetery

There are two Muslim communities in Poland. Towards the end of the 17th century, the Polish king Jan Sobieski settled Muslim Tatars in Podlasie . A relatively large Muslim minority also lived around Kamieniec Podolski in Podolia , which belonged to the Ottoman Empire between 1672 and 1699 . The second Muslim community consists of immigrant Muslims, most of whom come from Arab countries and Turkey. Their religious center is mainly Warsaw and Gdansk.


Poland was never religiously homogeneous in the Middle Ages . The immigration of Jews from Western Europe began long before the Christian faith could finally establish itself, aided by the Edict of Tolerance of Kalisz in 1265. Later, Hussites also immigrated to Poland from Bohemia . Casimir the Great extended the Kalisz Edict of Tolerance to all of Poland. The Polish Jews are separated since the 18th century in two dominant faiths, the enlightened Maskilim and the Orthodox Hasidim . At times, more than half of all Jews worldwide lived in Poland. Before World War II, Poland had by far the largest Jewish community in the world. The Jewish community was revived after 1989.


Bronze Age Biskupin


The prehistory of today's Poland goes back to the Paleolithic . In the Neolithic it was successively under the influence of the linear ceramic culture , the funnel cup culture , the spherical amphora culture and the cord ceramic culture . During the Bronze Age it was part of the Lausitz culture or the Hallstatt culture , from which the pile dwelling settlement Biskupin originates. It is also associated with the Hallstatt culture . At the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age , the Pomeranian face urn culture followed and, in the late Iron Age, the Wielbark culture . In ancient times, the area of ​​present-day Poland came under Celtic and Thracian influence. Later the Przeworsk culture dominated . A lively cultural exchange with the Roman Empire took place via the Bernsteinstrasse . The Romans mentioned the cities of Kalisz and Truso around the birth of Christ . The Germanic tribes of the Goths and Vandals settled around the birth of Christ from Scandinavia in what is now northern and western Poland. During the Great Migration , Western Slavs and Balts moved through what is now Poland. Before the founding of the Polish state, the Vikings , Avars and Magyars undertook raids into what is now southern Poland. The legends of the first princes of Poland Popiel , Piast , Lech and Siemowit are also associated with this time . Southern Poland came under Moravian influence in the second half of the 9th century .


The Duchy of Poland, whose name is derived from the West Slavic Polans , was founded in the early 10th century from Greater Poland ( Posen , Giecz , Ostrów Lednicki and Gnesen ). It was ruled from approx. 960 to 992 by Duke Mieszko I from the Piast dynasty, who gradually subjugated the other West Slavic tribes between the Oder and the Bug. Around 990 he placed Poland under the direct protection of Pope John XV in the Dagome Iudex document .

In 966 Mieszko I was baptized according to the Roman Catholic rite . Through conquests under Mieszko I, the territory reached borders that came very close to today's state borders. His son Boleslaus I the Brave was the first Polish king. As early as 997 he concluded a political-military alliance with the Roman-German Emperor Otto III. confirmed during the Act of Gniezno in 1000. After the early death of the young Otto III. the relationship worsened under Heinrich II , with whom Boleslaus I waged numerous wars for Lusatia. Boleslaus I temporarily extended his sphere of influence to today's Slovakia, Bohemia and Moravia as well as the Kievan Rus. Under the rule of his son Mieszko II. Lambert , there was a pagan revolt of the Poles against the Catholic Church in the late 1030s. Only his successor Casimir I the innovator was able to calm the situation. In 1040 he moved the capital from Gniezno to the Kraków Wawel .

After the death of Boleslaus III. Wrymouth in the year 1138 the seniority constitution was introduced, according to which the sons of Boleslaus III. as junior dukes under the seniorate of the elder of the dynasty ruled the individual parts of the country under their control. This feudal fragmentation lasted in Poland until 1295 . This so-called particularism led to a severe political weakening of Poland in the 13th century. Poland was divided into six duchies in 1138: Lesser Poland , Greater Poland , Pomerania , Pomerania , Silesia and Mazovia , the so-called "Seniorat Poland". The years up to reunification were marked by feudal territorial fragmentation. The area of ​​Malopolska in the southeast was divided into the aristocratic territory of Sandomierz , eastern Greater Poland into the duchies of Łęczyca and Sieradz , and western Mazovia into the duchy of Kujawy . In West Pomerania the griffins gained independence from the Krakow senior in 1181 and in Pomerania the Samborids in 1227. In 1295 Przemysł II succeeded in reuniting large parts of the country from the Wielkopolska line of the Piasts and having himself crowned King of Poland. However, he was murdered the following year, and the Polish royal crown fell to the Bohemian Přemyslids Wenceslaus I and Wenceslaus II . After the latter was murdered on the way to the coronation in Krakow, Ladislaus I. Ellenlang succeeded in obtaining the Polish royal crown from the Kujavian line of the Piasts. With his son Casimir III the Great , the Piasts in the royal line died out in 1370, with the Mazovian Piasts not becoming extinct until 1526 and the Silesian Piasts not until 1707. The last Piast king Casimir III. the Great successfully initiated reforms that gave the Kingdom of Poland a powerful position in Central and Eastern Europe .

The Piasts brought numerous settlers to Poland, initially the clergy and the Benedictines as well as Cistercians from France, the Holy Roman Empire and Italy, and especially after the depopulation of large parts of Poland in the wake of the Mongol storm in the first half of the 13th century, German farmers and townspeople , and especially Jews after the pogroms in Western Europe in the course of the plague epidemic in the middle of the 14th century, from which Poland was spared. Conrad I of Masovia brought the Teutonic Order to Kulmerland in 1226 , from where he subjugated Prussia . Casimir III the great, however, extended the Jewish Edict of Tolerance of Kalisch by Boleslaus VI. of the pious to the whole Kingdom of Poland. With the connection of the Principality of Halych-Volodymyr with Lemberg, he began the Polish eastward expansion. With the Bohemian Luxemburgers, who continued to assert the claim to the Polish crown inherited from the Přemyslids, Casimir III could. the great one agreed in the Treaty of Namslau after meetings in Visegrád and Krakow , the Luxembourgers renounced the Polish crown and the Kujavian Piasts from feudal sovereignty over Silesia. In 1364 Casimir III the Great founded the Cracow Academy as the second university in Central Europe. At the same time, Casimir the Great concluded a military alliance with the Hungarian King Charles I and an inheritance contract with his son Ludwig I from the House of Anjou , who was the sister of Casimir III. of the great Elizabeth of Poland married and thus a claim to the Polish crown after Casimir III. Death acquired.


Jagiellonian sphere of influence around 1500

Casimir III, who died without a legitimate son. followed by Erbvertrag whose brother Ludwig I of the House of Anjou , which led to the first Polish-Hungarian personal union, and whose daughter Hedwig I. She married in 1386 the newly baptized Lithuanian Grand Duke Ladislaus II. Jagiello , whereby the powerful dual nationality Poland-Lithuania created who decisively influenced the fortunes of Central and Eastern Europe for the next 400 years . After the Battle of Tannenberg and the associated heavy defeat of the Teutonic Order, Poland-Lithuania rose to become one of the leading continental powers and for a long time was the largest state in Europe with spheres of influence from the Baltic to the Black Sea and from the Adriatic to the gates of Moscow . Under Ladislaus II Jagiełłos eldest son Ladislaus III. it came to the second Polish-Hungarian personal union, which with Ladislaus III. Death ended in the Battle of Varna . His brother Casimir IV. Andreas was able to win West Prussia and Warmia from the Teutonic Order in the Thirteen Years' War and turn the rest of the order into a Polish fief. Through a skillful dynasty and marriage policy, he made the Jagiellonians one of the leading royal families in Europe. His eldest son Ladislaus became King of Bohemia and Hungary and his younger sons Johann I Albert , Alexander I and Sigismund I the Elder became kings and grand princes in Poland-Lithuania one after the other . He married his daughters to the Bavarian Wittelsbachers , Prussian Hohenzollers , Pomeranian Griffins , the Saxon Wettins and the Silesian Piasts . So when Sigismund I the Old dissolved the Teutonic Order in 1525 and converted it into a secular duchy , he and Albrecht appointed his nephew as Duke. 1526, the former Polish fief fell Mazovia with the death of the last Mazovian Piast Janusz III. back to Poland. With the death of Ludwig II in the Battle of Mohács , the Jagiellonians lost Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia to the Ottomans and Habsburgs respectively. With Sigismund I the old only son Sigismund II August , the male Jagiellonian line died out in 1572 and with his daughter Anna Jagiellonica completely in Poland-Lithuania in 1596.

Aristocratic republic

Poland-Lithuania around 1670

Poland was designated a republic in 1358. The republican form of government did not prevail until the middle of the 15th century and was not fully developed with a steady three-chamber parliament until the end of the 15th century. With the Nihil Novi Constitution passed in 1505, the Sejm forbade the king to enact new laws without the consent of parliament. At the instigation of the last Polish king from the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II August , the personal union between Poland and Lithuania in Lublin was converted into a real union in 1569 . Poland and Lithuania together formed an aristocratic republic since 1569 and thus the first modern state in Europe with an aristocratic republican system and a separation of powers . 1578 is independent of the king and the Sejm Supreme Court for was Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth , the Crown Tribunal in Lublin established. The Polish nobility initially elected the French Heinrich I. Valois , from whom they demanded religious freedom , and later the Transylvanian Stephan I. Báthory as the Polish-Lithuanian king. Later three kings from the Swedish Vasa dynasty Sigismund III, related to the Jagiellonians, followed . Vasa (brief personal union with Sweden), Ladislaus IV. Vasa (brief personal union with Russia) and Johann II Casimir . With Michael I. Korybut Wiśniowiecki , Johann III. Sobieski and Stanislaus I. Leszczyński became Polish magnates and with August II the Strong and August III. Saxon Wettins elected. The last elected Polish king was Stanislaus II August Poniatowski . The period up to the middle of the 17th century is considered the golden age of the aristocratic republic. After that Poland-Lithuania was involved in numerous wars, including the Battle of Kahlenberg as part of the Great Turkish War .


Divisions 1772, 1793, 1795

The aristocratic republic plunged into a lasting crisis in the 17th and 18th centuries, which was characterized by numerous wars (with Sweden , the Ottoman Empire , Russia , Brandenburg-Prussia and Transylvania ), a lack of political reforms and internal unrest. The formation of magnates (so-called confederations against the interests of the state and the king), Cossack revolts and permanent confrontations with the Crimean Tatars in the southeastern voivodeships took place . In particular, the election of foreign dynasts as Polish kings (they had no domestic power in Poland and were dependent on the benevolence of the high nobility) and the disagreement within the Polish nobility, the szlachta and magnates, weakened the state considerably. In particular, the so-called Saxon period is classified as negative for the continued existence of the Polish state from the Polish perspective.

The ratification of a constitution in 1791 , the very first modern constitution in Europe, could not stop the decline of the Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic republic. In the three partitions of Poland in 1772 , 1793 and 1795 , Poland's internal weakness was exploited by its neighbors Prussia, Austria and Russia, who attacked Poland at the same time and ultimately divided them up among themselves. Poland was thus robbed of its sovereignty and its original territory was incorporated into three different states. The last Polish king, Stanislaus II August Poniatowski , had to abdicate and was brought to Saint Petersburg, where he died in 1798. At the same time, however, as early as 1796, Polish legions were founded in French-occupied northern Italy and France under Jan Henryk Dąbrowski , the aim of which was to rebuild the Polish-Lithuanian republic with French help.

At the insistence of the French Emperor Napoleon in 1807, within the framework of the Peace of Tilsit , a relatively small Duchy of Warsaw emerged as a vassal state of France from the Prussian acquisitions of the Second and Third Partition . In 1809, after brief armed conflicts, parts of Lesser Poland in what was then Western Galicia were ceded by Austria to the Duchy of Warsaw. Due to the defeat of the Polish-French alliance in the Russian campaign in 1812 and in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, the Polish-Lithuanian republic was not restored and the Duchy of Warsaw was divided up at the Congress of Vienna, which was dominated by the partitioning powers . Large parts of Greater Poland fell back to Prussia as the province of Posen . Krakow became a city-state, the Republic of Krakow , which was formally independent until 1846 . The rest, which was named after the Congress of Vienna Congress Poland , was a Polish Kingdom in 1815 in personal union with the Russian Empire connected origin was formally than the common rulers of the Russian Empire independent. This Polish state enjoyed extensive autonomy until 1831 . With the rise of Russian nationalism in the transition from feudal society to capitalism , the tsarist administration tried to abolish this autonomy step by step.

As a result of recruitment of Poland for the Russian army to fight the Belgian Revolution in Warsaw broke November Uprising of 1830, in which the Poles tried the Russian foreign domination shake and dominance. The November uprising was suppressed by the Russian army in 1831. With the defeat, the Polish population in the Prussian and Russian zones of occupation since 1831 was subjected to increased Germanization - according to the Prussian censuses without major effects on the population situation - and Russification , which was particularly accelerated after the second, failed uprising, the January uprising of 1863 . The designation Poland was banned and the country was referred to as Vistula by the Russian authorities . The Hohenzollerns in Pomerania and Greater Poland also proceeded in a similar way : Poles appear as a nationality in censuses , but as a contemporary geographical term, Poland is limited to the Russian part in Prussian school books and all German-language maps. Only in the Polish Galicia, occupied by Austria, were the Poles able to escape the intellectual and national oppression in the parts of Poland dominated by Prussia and Russia through the political reforms of the House of Habsburg- Lorraine in the Danube Monarchy since 1867. In the Russian part, however, the revolution of 1905 marked a turning point in which socialist demands initially dominated, but later the demand for national independence gained ground.

First World War

With the outbreak of World War I , the Central Powers , especially Austria-Hungary, founded Polish legions under the command of Józef Piłsudski . During the First World War , the German and Austro-Hungarian empires decided to found an independent Polish state on the territory of Congress Poland, which had been taken from the Russian Empire . However, this was more of a measure directed against Russia than the recognition of the right of all Poles to statehood by the Central Powers. In 1916 the reign of Poland, named in analogy to the decision of the Congress of Vienna, was proclaimed by the German Reich. For this purpose, the Provisional State Council in the Kingdom of Poland was set up, which met in the Kronenberg Palace in Warsaw from 1916 to 1918 and was headed by the triumvirate Józef Ostrowski , Aleksander Kakowski and Zdzisław Lubomirski . Due to the events of the war, the Provisional State Council in the Kingdom of Poland had only limited practical effects. However, after the Russian October Revolution in 1917, Józef Piłsudski and his legions laid down their arms and refused to continue fighting for the Central Powers , since the Polish legions' war goal with the defeat of Russia had already been achieved. Józef Piłsudski was then interned in Magdeburg. His return to Poland after the defeat of the Central Powers was the reason for the proclamation of the independent Second Polish Republic on November 11, 1918 in Warsaw. In addition to Piłsudski, who came from the socialist camp, Roman Dmowski and Ignacy Jan Paderewski , who came from the bourgeois camp , were also active in promoting Polish independence at the end of the First World War.

Second republic

Poland after the Peace of Riga

Woodrow Wilson made it clear as early as 1917 when the USA entered the war in the 14-point program that an independent Poland with access to the Baltic Sea was one of the USA's war goals. After the defeat of the Central Powers, Poland regained its sovereignty . On November 11, 1918, the Second Polish Republic was proclaimed. The general active and passive right to vote for women was introduced at the same time as the corresponding right for men. This happened with the decree of November 28, 1918 on the election procedure for the Sejm shortly after the re-establishment of the Polish state. Article 1 guaranteed the active , Article 7, the passive right to vote .

The independence of the Republic of Poland in an international context was confirmed in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Poland was a founding member of the League of Nations . At the same time, the protection of the German minority in Poland was agreed in the Polish Minority Treaty of June 28, 1919.

The victorious powers established borders according to population majorities in Central and Eastern Europe. The British Foreign Minister Lord George Nathaniel Curzon was in charge . The Weimar Republic was forced to largely give up the Prussian provinces of West Prussia and Posen. They were annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia as part of the partition of Poland. Immediately afterwards, 200,000 Germans left the areas assigned to the Republic of Poland.

Due to the unclear political situation after the collapse of the Hohenzollern and Romanov monarchies, conflicts arose with neighboring states during the first phase of consolidation of the new state, for example with Germany over Upper Silesia in the battle of St. Annaberg or the city of Wilna today Lithuania .

From March 1919, Poland succeeded in taking large parts of Ukraine and Belarus in the Polish-Soviet War . A Soviet counter-offensive followed, which was initially successful. In the Battle of Warsaw in 1920, however , the Red Army was thrown back with heavy losses, after which it withdrew to the Ukraine. After Marshal Józef Piłsudski's victory against the Bolsheviks on the Vistula, Poland's eastern border was set about 250 km east of the Curzon Line in the Riga Peace Treaty on March 18, 1921 .

The Curzon Line marked the eastern border of the closed Polish settlement area, while the eastern areas (Kresy) had a mixed population structure of Poles, Ukrainians , Belarusians , Lithuanians , Jews and Germans , with the Poles in many cities and the other population groups in the countryside dominated. While the majority of the population of the cities was mostly Roman Catholic or Jewish , the rural population was predominantly Orthodox . Nonetheless, Piłsudski failed to achieve his goal of establishing Ukraine as an independent "buffer state" between Poland and Soviet Russia . In Riga, Poland recognized Ukraine as part of the later Soviet Union under Mykola Skrypnyk . In the areas assigned to Poland by Soviet Russia, east of the Western Bug , the Poles made up 25% of the population in 1919; in 1939, after a settlement policy favoring Poles during Piłsudski's tenure, it was already around 38%. The regions around Pinsk , Łuck , Stanisławów and Lemberg ( Lwów ) were the regions around Pinsk , Łuck , Stanisławów and Lemberg ( Lwów ) , in the predominantly Ukrainian or Belarusian surrounding areas, depending on the region . In total, of the 13.5 million inhabitants in the area in 1939, around 3.5 million were Poles. The majority of the rajong municipality of Vilnius has remained Polish-speaking to this day and the city of Vilnius forms a Lithuanian-language island after the forced relocation of its Polish city dwellers after the war.

May coup 1926

The internal consolidation of the new state was made more difficult by the fragmentation of the political parties, the different economic, educational, judicial and administrative systems that emerged during the period of division, as well as the existence of strong ethnic minorities (31% of the total population). In terms of foreign policy, Poland was initially included in the French alliance system. A restrictive policy towards the German minority, which led to the emigration of around one million German-speaking citizens, the Stresemann government's refusal to recognize the new German eastern border, a “tariff war” over coal from Upper Silesia and the political and ideological opposition to the Soviet system all resulted in cooperation between Poland with its two largest neighbors.

On May 12, 1926, Marshal Piłsudski won power after a coup d'état (1926–1928 and 1930 as Prime Minister, 1926–1935 as Minister of War). Non-aggression treaties were concluded with the Soviet Union (1932) and the German Reich (1934) to secure foreign policy . Foreign Minister Józef Beck sought the rise of Poland to a hegemonic power in Central and Eastern Europe within the framework of a new Europe from the Baltic to the Adriatic, but his plans failed due to the geopolitical situation. Despite the global economic crisis in 1929, the economy in the Second Polish Republic was able to develop. Ambitious projects such as the construction of the port city of Gdynia and the Central Industrial Region were able to be realized. A sign of the luxury of the interwar period were the Luxtorpeda express trains , which ran between Krakow and the increasingly popular mountain resort of Zakopane .

Shortly before Poland itself was attacked by Nazi Germany , it made territorial demands on Czechoslovakia as part of the Munich Agreement . In October 1938, against the will of the Czech government, Poland annexed the Polish-majority Olsa area , which had been occupied by Czechoslovakia in 1919.

Second World War

Nazi extermination camp

In August 1939, the German Reich and the Soviet Union signed the Hitler-Stalin Pact , in whose secret additional protocol the joint attack on Poland and the annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union were resolved. On September 1, 1939, Poland was attacked by the German Reich . Troops from the German vassal state Slovakia also advanced into Polish territory. This marked the beginning of the Second World War , in which 5.62 to 5.82 million Polish citizens, almost half of whom were of Jewish descent, were to lose their lives. After the western parts of the country had been lost to the German invaders, the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland began on September 17th, under the pretext of "protecting" the Belarusian-Ukrainian population through the invasion of the Red Army . The annexation and division of the Polish national territory had previously been decided by the dictators in a secret additional protocol to the Hitler-Stalin pact . The Polish government then left Poland on the night of September 17-18, 1939 via the still free border crossing at Kuty (now in Ukraine) and went to neutral Romania , later to Paris and in 1940 to London . From there she organized the resistance against the German and Soviet occupation.

Hitler made it clear early on that he had envisaged the "liquidation of leading Poles" ( Reinhard Heydrich ). In the first four months of the German occupation alone, several 10,000 people were shot ( Tannenberg company ). In the early 1940s, the National Socialists set up several concentration camps on the territory of Poland, including the concentration and extermination camps Auschwitz , Majdanek and Treblinka . The occupation had catastrophic consequences for large parts of the Polish civilian population. In the country, in which originally more than three million Jews lived, the National Socialists waged a so-called “Volkstumskampf” , which killed 5,675,000 civilians. According to the Hitler-Stalin Pact, Poland was occupied and partially annexed by the Wehrmacht in the west and by the Red Army in the east .

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. The photo of the boy from the Stroop report is one of the most famous photographs of the Holocaust.

The overarching goals of the occupation policy in the entire area included firstly the elimination and extermination of Polish Jews and the Polish intelligentsia, secondly moving the German eastern border forward and expanding the "living space in the east" ( General Plan East ) and thirdly, strengthening the German war economy Exploitation of the labor force of the forced laborers and the material resources of Poland. Greater Poland , the parts of West Prussia ceded to Poland in 1919 and East Upper Silesia were annexed directly by Germany. Lesser Poland , Mazovia and Galicia with around ten million people were subordinated to the Reich Minister Hans Frank as the so-called General Government. He directed the extermination policy from the Wawel , the Krakow royal seat of the early Polish kings. During his reign he organized the theft of looted art from Polish museums, churches and private collections on an unprecedented scale.

The Poles, who came under Soviet rule, were also affected by violent measures. It is estimated that around 1.5 million former Polish citizens were deported. 300,000 Polish soldiers were taken prisoner by the Soviets, only 82,000 of them survived. Most of the officers, around 30,000 people, were murdered by Soviet troops in the 1940 massacre in Katyn and in the prisoner-of-war camps in Starobelsk , Koselsk and Ostashkov . Even before the outbreak of World War II, Stalin had over 100,000 Poles murdered in the Soviet Union in the NKVD's Polish operation . The killing of the Soviet communists continued after the Second World War in Poland, which was again occupied by the Soviet Union.

After the German Reich attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the Anders Army with six divisions was formed in the hinterland of the Soviet Union from Polish soldiers . However, due to a lack of equipment and supplies, these units were relocated via Persia to the Middle East as early as 1942, where they were placed under the British Middle East Command. Later they fought as the 2nd Polish Corps in Palestine, Africa and Italy, where they were able to conquer the Monte Cassino monastery from the Wehrmacht.

Polish soldiers fought on the side of the Allies on almost all fronts of the Second World War, from the Battle of Britain , in Africa and the Soviet Union , to the invasion of Normandy and Italy . The Polish soldiers thus provided the fourth largest Allied army on the European continent before the French. Polish partisan groups, which represented the largest resistance movement in occupied Europe, also offered resistance in Poland itself. After the Red Army crossed the Polish border from 1939 in January 1944, the Home Army troops were disarmed by the NKVD , their officers shot or sent to the Soviet gulag . The struggle of individual underground units against the communist regime, which was dependent on the Soviet Union, continued until the late 1940s.

On August 1, 1944, the Warsaw Uprising began on the orders of the London government in exile . The Soviet Union, whose troops were already on the east bank of the Vistula, almost did not support the units of the Home Army at all. The great distance made effective aid from the Western Allies impossible. In this way, German occupation troops were able to crush the largest European uprising against them. The number of deaths is estimated at 180,000 to 250,000. Afterwards, the inner city of Warsaw was almost completely destroyed with great use of explosives .

People's Republic

West shift of Poland

After the end of the Second World War in 1945 , the borders of the former Polish territory were moved westwards in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement . Poland lost the ethnically mixed, majority of Ukrainians and Belarusians populated third of its previous territory to the Soviet Union. The Polish population resident there, around 1.5 million people, were expelled to Poland as repatriates . Tens of thousands of Poles were murdered in the massacres in Volhynia between 1943 and 1944, and hundreds of thousands had to flee.

In the west and north, the German areas east of the Oder and Neisse ( Oder-Neisse line ) were assigned to Poland in accordance with the specifications of the Allied conferences in Tehran , Yalta and Potsdam . About five million Germans had fled from there towards the end of the war and were prevented from returning by an entry ban; after the war another 3.5 million people were displaced . Some German and Polish-speaking Upper Silesians and Masurians stayed in Poland. Many who had German names had them changed to Polish names. The use of the German language was restricted by the authorities, especially in Silesia, at least until the 1970s.

The regained areas were populated by three million citizens from central Poland, around one to two million refugees and displaced persons from eastern Poland and in 1947 around 150,000 Ukrainians and Ruthenians resettled from the border area with the Soviet Union by the Vistula action .

With the Görlitz Agreement between the newly formed GDR and the People's Republic of Poland of July 6, 1950, this demarcation was recognized by the GDR and by the Treaty of December 7, 1970 in Warsaw by the Federal Republic of Germany .

The German occupation during the Second World War was followed by the communist dictatorship imposed by the Soviet occupation. Poland was added to the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union and became part of the Warsaw Pact as the People's Republic of Poland . The puppet government consisted of the triumvirate Jakub Berman , Hilary Minc and Bolesław Bierut during Stalinism . From 1956, after uprisings, there was a de-Stalinization under the chairman of the communist party Wladyslaw Gomulka . Gomułka followed Edward Gierek in 1970 and Stanisław Kania in 1980 , until the Jaruzelskis junta seized power in 1981. Poland was integrated into the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact until 1989 . Through several uprisings, the Polish population repeatedly expressed their displeasure with the Soviet occupation, for example in the Poznan uprising in 1956 , the March unrest in 1968 , the Gdansk uprising in 1970 , the popular uprising in Radom and Ursus near Warsaw in 1976 . In 1956 the Poles showed a very high degree of solidarity with the Hungarians, whose revolt against Soviet rule was bloodily suppressed. In 1968 the troops of the People's Republic of Poland under General Wojciech Jaruzelski took part in the military crackdown on the Prague Spring .

It was not until the establishment of the Solidarność trade union after the Pope's first visit by John Paul II in 1979 that there was finally a socio-political upheaval in and to the revolutionary events from 1980 to 1989, first in the imposition of martial law and finally in the round table - Talks and the first partially free elections in the Eastern Bloc on June 4 and 18, 1989 resulted. At its end, the so-called Eastern Bloc and then the Soviet Union were dissolved and the communist regime was replaced by a democratic form of government. The role of Lech Wałęsa in the Solidarność union is a controversial issue.

Third Republic

In the partially free parliamentary elections on June 4 and 18, 1989 , the Solidarność Citizens' Committee, the political organization of the Solidarność trade union , won all 161 of 460 freely elected seats in the Sejm and 99 of 100 seats in the re-established Senate . Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected the first Prime Minister of the Third Republic of Poland; He was the first head of government of a Warsaw Pact state that was not a member of the Communist Party at the time of his election. On December 29, 1989, the constitution was amended. The provisions on the alliance with the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries and the leadership role of the Communist Party were deleted and the former state name "Rzeczpospolita Polska" ( Republic of Poland ) with the old coat of arms reintroduced. In 1991 membership in the Warsaw Pact ended when the military alliance was dissolved.

The planned economy was transformed into a market economy . According to the controversial Balcerowicz Plan , numerous state-owned companies were privatized in a short period of time, with a large number of workers losing their jobs. In December 1990, the former Solidarność chairman Lech Wałęsa was elected president in a popular election . There were numerous changes of government under Wałęsa. In particular, the overthrow of the Jan Olszewski government in 1992 is controversial in Poland, since Wałęsa apparently tried to thwart the publication of a list of secret service employees among the top Polish politicians that he himself was on.

Warsaw Skyline (2012)

Poles' confidence in Wałęsa sank, and in December 1995 he lost the presidential election to the challenger and former communist youth minister of the 1980s, Aleksander Kwaśniewski . During Kwaśniewski's tenure, Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004 . On April 2, 1997, a new constitution was passed by the Sejm and Senate and adopted by referendum on May 25, 1997, in which less than 50% of those entitled to vote took part. It came into force on October 17, 1997. On May 1, 2004, Poland became a member of the European Union together with nine other countries. Poland is the most populous and largest country in terms of area of ​​the 13 new member states. During the conflict over the presidential elections in the neighboring state of Ukraine in November and December 2004, Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski acted as a mediator between the conflicting parties, while large sections of the Polish public and many media showed a particularly high degree of solidarity with Ukraine and its new President Viktor Yushchenko practiced.

The parliamentary elections in 2005 led to a change in politics in Poland. The SLD , which had ruled until then, was voted out by a conservative alliance. The winner of the Sejm and Senate elections was the national-conservative PiS of Jarosław Kaczyński , ahead of the liberal-conservative PO . Lech Kaczyński , Jarosław's twin brother, subsequently won the presidential election in October 2005 . In the early parliamentary elections on October 21, 2007 , the PiS lost its position as the strongest party.

From November 2007 to 2015, the liberal-conservative PO and its coalition partner, the Farmers' Party PSL , formed the government. First under Prime Minister Donald Tusk , and from 2014 one under Ewa Kopacz .

Mourning after the crash April 10, 2010

On April 10, 2010 , a Polish government plane with 96 inmates crashed near Smolensk . Among the fatalities were Poland's President Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria, numerous members of parliament, members of the government, high-ranking officers, church representatives, senior representatives from central authorities and representatives of associations of victims of the Katyn massacre . The reason for the crash remains unclear to this day and is still being investigated.

After the presidential election in May 2015 , Andrzej Duda replaced the previous incumbent Bronisław Komorowski as president . The parliamentary elections in October 2015 brought a landslide victory for the national conservative PiS, which with 37.6% and 235 out of 460 members formed the first sole government in Poland since 1989. In the same year the Polish constitutional crisis began due to judicial reforms .


Political system of Poland

The Republic of Poland is a parliamentary democracy . The currently valid state organization law is mainly codified in the 1997 constitution . In a European comparison, the Polish system of government contains numerous elements of direct democracy . In the 2019 Democracy Index of the British magazine The Economist, Poland ranks 57th out of 167 countries and is considered an "incomplete democracy".


The first modern Polish constitution was passed by the Great Sejm on May 3, 1791. The currently valid constitution was adopted by the National Assembly on April 2, 1997 and passed in a referendum on May 25, 1997 by the Poles eligible to vote. Although 53.45% of those involved in the referendum voted for the constitution, the turnout was only 42.86%. This means that only about every fifth person entitled to a referendum voted for the constitution. The constitution came into force on October 17, 1997. It contains 243 articles and is therefore significantly longer than the constitutions of the Federal Republic or the USA.

legislative branch

The Polish parliament is one of the oldest parliaments in the world and has existed - in various forms as a three-chamber parliament and with interruptions - since 1493. The parliament consists of two chambers, the Sejm and the Senate . The Sejm, together with the Senate, holds the legislature . The political parties represented in parliament are grouped as parliamentary groups in a government and the opposition . The Sejm MPs and Senators meet in the National Assembly on special occasions .

Plenary Chamber of the Sejm

The Sejm is made up of 460 members. It decides on its rules of procedure. The Sejm is headed by the Sejm Marshal. The Sejm Marshal is formally the second highest political office in the Republic of Poland after the head of state. The Sejm is based in Warsaw's government district. The deputies are elected for a four-year legislative period according to the proportional representation in general and secret ballot. There is a 5% hurdle for political parties and an 8% hurdle for electoral alliances . The seats in the Sejm are distributed according to the D'Hondt procedure . There are no overhang seats under Polish electoral law. Fifteen MPs are needed to found a parliamentary group in the Sejm. The Sejm convenes (investigative) committees. In 2017 there were 25 committees in the Sejm. MPs enjoy immunity.

Senate Chamber

The Senate consists of 100 members. It decides on its rules of procedure. The Senate is headed by the Senate Marshal. The Senate Marshal is formally the third highest political office in the Republic of Poland after the head of state and the Sejm Marshal. The Senate is based in Warsaw's government district. The senators are elected for a four-year legislative period according to the majority vote in general and secret ballot in one hundred constituencies. The Senate convenes (investigative) committees. There were 14 committees in the Senate in 2017. Senators enjoy immunity.

Legislative process

The right to initiate legislation is available to the President, the government, the Senate, a group of at least 15 MPs or the citizens (a legislative initiative must be signed by 100,000 citizens). The draft law is to be forwarded to the Sejm Marshal. The Sejm Marshal organizes three readings and discussions in the Sejm. A law passed by the Sejm is forwarded to the Senate. A Senate veto can be overruled by the Sejm if at least half of the legal number of MPs takes part in the vote. A draft law passed by parliament is sent to the president, who can sign it, send it back to the Sejm ( veto ) or refer it to the Constitutional Court for constitutional review. A presidential veto can be rejected by the Sejm with a three-fifths majority of the votes cast if at least half of the statutory number of MPs takes part in the vote. Accepted laws are to be published in the Law Gazette of the Republic of Poland.

Direct democracy

The Polish constitution provides for referendums at national and local levels. Referendums at national level can initiate:

  • the Sejm
  • the Senate
  • the government
  • the citizens (this requires 500,000 signatures)
  • the president

Referendums at national level can be held on all matters relating to national issues, with the exception of regulations on tax, defense and amnesty matters. Referendum results are binding if at least half of those entitled to referendums participate in the vote. The referendum to adopt the current constitution did not meet this criterion, as only about 42% of those entitled to referendums took part in the vote.

Legal system

In Poland there is a continental European codified legal system with large codes in the main areas of law, including a. Civil Code, Labor Code, Criminal Code.


The executive organs are the President , who is also the Head of State, and the Council of Ministers , which is headed by the Prime Minister . The constitution of July 1997 does not delimit the competences between the President and the Council of Ministers sufficiently sharply. There are overlaps in the areas of foreign and defense policy in particular.


The president is elected directly by the people every five years. If no candidate receives more than half of the votes cast in the first ballot, a run-off election takes place between the two candidates who received the most votes. A one-time re-election is possible. The presidential election on May 24, 2015 was Andrzej Duda decide for themselves which of the party Law and Justice was set up as a candidate. He was sworn in on August 6, 2015.

Council of Ministers
Prime Minister's Office

The Prime Minister as well as all other members of the Council of Ministers are appointed by the President . After an exposé by the Sejm, the Prime Minister is confirmed by a vote of confidence in which more than half of the voting MPs have to express their confidence with a quorum of at least half of the legal number of MPs. The members of the Council of Ministers confirmed by the Sejm are sworn in by the President. The Council of Ministers is composed of the Prime Minister, the Vice Prime Ministers, the Ministers and the Committee Chairs.


Supreme Court
Constitutional Court

The jurisdiction in Poland is basically divided into an ordinary ( sądownictwo powszechne ) and an administrative jurisdiction ( sądownictwo administracyjne ). The jurisdictions have two instances. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court in ordinary jurisdiction and the Supreme Administrative Court in administrative jurisdiction , both with their seat in Warsaw. Warsaw is also home to the Constitutional Court , which speaks the law on constitutional issues, and the State Court of Justice.

Instances of ordinary jurisdiction:

  • Rejon dishes ( sądy rejonowe )
  • District Courts ( sądy okręgowe )
  • Appeal courts ( sądy apelacyjne )
  • Supreme Court ( Sąd Najwyższy ), which consists of five chambers, including u. a. the disciplinary body, the status of which is under review by the EU Court of Justice ( C-791/19 ).

The court of first instance is usually the Rejong court, and its decision can be appealed to the district court. However, if the court of first instance is the district court, the appeal serves the appeal court. Cancellations and appeals in cassation - which, however, cannot be called the next, third instance - are always decided by the Supreme Court.

Instances of administrative jurisdiction:

  • Voivodeship Administrative Court ( Wojewódzkie Sądy Administracyjne )
  • Supreme Administrative Court ( Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny )

There is no separate labor, social and financial jurisdiction in Poland. Legal disputes in labor law are brought before the ordinary courts, legal disputes in social and financial law before the administrative courts. There is also a separate military jurisdiction. Private arbitration tribunals are permitted. For example, the German-Polish Chamber of Commerce and Industry has an arbitration tribunal in Warsaw.

See also


While in the 16th and 17th centuries alliances of representatives in the Polish Sejm were spontaneous and mostly only served to elect a king or to enforce short-term interests within a confederation , the first permanent parties established themselves at the beginning of the 18th century, especially at the beginning the family around the magnate families of the Czartoryski and Poniatowski as well as the Hetmanen party competing with the magnate families of the Branicki and Potocki as well as the Kamaryla Mniszcha around Jerzy August Mniszech and in the second half of the century the parties of the Jakubines , the Patriots and the constitutional party , formed in the course of the reforms of the Great Sejm . Modern parties emerged during the period of division in the 19th century in the parts of the country belonging to Prussia, Austria and Russia. The number of parties at the beginning of the Second Polish Republic after gaining independence was correspondingly large . After the Soviet occupation in 1939/1944, a one-party system was introduced based on the Russian model, with two bogus parties that played no political role. After 1989, the Solidarność movement and the post-communists gave rise to numerous small parties. After the turn of the millennium, some of these small parties united to form the current leading parties in the Polish Sejm. In 2017, there were 85 political parties registered in Poland. The constitution and the law on political parties regulate the rights and obligations of parties.

Parliamentary parties
Parties represented in the Sejm and Senate since the 2019 parliamentary election
Political party Sejm senate
be right % Seats candidates
Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS + P + SP ) 8.051.935 43.59 235 91 48
Koalicja Obywatelska ( PO + .N + Zieloni ) 5,060,355 27.40 134 68 43
Lewica ( SLD + Wiosna + razem ) 2,319,946 12.56 49 6th 2
Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (PSL + Kukiz'15 ) 1,578,523 8.55 30th 15th 3
Konfederacja ( KORWiN + RN ) 1,256,953 6.81 11 7th -
German minority election committee 32.094 0.17 1 3 -
Source: Państwowa Komisja Wyborcza (Passenger Cars; National Electoral Commission), October 15, 201
Top politicians

One of the criticisms of the 1997 constitution is that the hierarchy of politicians it prescribes does not correspond to the actual balance of political power. Formally, the President and then the Sejm Marshal and the Senate Marshal are the most important politicians in Poland. De facto, however, the prime minister determines current policy, who only ranks fourth in the formal ranking. The chairman of the ruling party or coalition is also not without political influence, as the parliamentary majority can recall the prime minister at any time.

Foreign policy

In 2017, the EU authority Frontex moved from Rondo 1-B to the east tower of the Warsaw Spire in Warsaw

The foreign policy of the Third Republic is determined by the history and geopolitical situation of Poland. The Foreign Minister, currently Jacek Czaputowicz , is responsible , supported by the President.

Polish foreign policy is geared towards the most unlimited sovereignty possible due to its long experience of foreign determination. Poland is looking for a high degree of independence in the EU.

Poland is a founding member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations , the Central European Free Trade Agreement (up to and including 2004), the Baltic Sea Council , the Visegrád Group , the Weimar Triangle and the Kaliningrad Triangle . Poland is still a member of: European Union , NATO , World Trade Organization , Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development , European Economic Area , International Energy Agency , Council of Europe , Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe , International Atomic Energy Organization , European Space Agency , European Southern Observatory , G6 of the European Union , Community of Democracies , Central European Initiative , Three Seas Initiative , Baltic Sea Nature Conservation Organization and all sub-organizations of the UN . Poland has observer status with the following organizations: Arctic Council and International Organization of French-speaking Countries . Poland is a member of the Schengen area and is a candidate for joining the euro area . The European Border and Coast Guard Agency - Frontex is based in Poland.

The Poles see the United States as their most important ally. US troops have been stationed on Polish territory since 2016.

In the east, Poland sees itself connected to Lithuania, Belarus and the Ukraine, with which it formed the Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic republic for centuries . Poland sees itself as a lawyer for Ukraine in its relations with NATO and the EU.

Poland already maintained diplomatic relations with Persia and the Ottoman Empire, which in return never recognized the partitions of Poland and asked for the Polish envoy at every international conference.

The aristocratic republic also maintained good relations with France and the Papal States.

In the first half of the 20th century, the Second Republic developed good relations with Great Britain, which gave Poland a guarantee in the run-up to World War II.

Relations with Germany and Russia, on the other hand, have been strained since the partitions of Poland - with the exception of the period of enthusiasm for Poland (e.g. Hambach Festival ) in Vormärz - and in particular due to the Second World War and the subsequent dependence on the Soviet Union. Interestingly, relations with Austria, which also took part in the partitions of Poland and the invasion of Poland , are far more relaxed. Relations with Switzerland, which Poland abroad supported during the time of partition, are on the other hand friendly.

Poland and Hungary have a particularly friendly relationship that goes back to the High Middle Ages, when the two kingdoms were ruled three times in personal union. Poland and Hungary work closely together with the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the Visegrád Group .

There are also traditionally good relations with the other states of the Three Seas Initiative .


Exercise at Drawsko Pomorskie
PT91 Twardy

According to the Global Firepower ranking (2016), Poland has the 18th strongest army in the world and the 5th strongest in Europe. The defense budget in 2016 was USD 9.7 billion or around 2% of Poland's GDP, making Poland one of the few countries that meets the relevant NATO requirements. Poland is currently modernizing its armed forces. Poland intensified this process in the wake of the Ukraine crisis . The defense budget is to be increased to 2.5% of the Polish GDP and the number of soldiers to 200,000. Poland has announced that it will spend more than 30 billion euros on the procurement of new weapon systems by 2022.

The President is the Supreme Commander of the Polish Armed Forces. However, the military is directly subordinate to the Minister of Defense and consists of the air force , the navy , the land forces , the special units and the territorial defense .

Historical development

In the times of the aristocratic republic, conscription existed only for the Szlachta for defensive warfare . The Polish Hussaria and the Uhlans , who distinguished themselves in the Swedish and Turkish wars, are particularly well-known in history .

One of the reforms of the Great Sejm at the end of the 18th century was the introduction of a standing army of 100,000 men, which, however, was no longer organized due to the second and third division of Poland.

Polish legions arose in Italy and France during the Napoleonic Wars. The Grand Duchy provided a large number of the soldiers who took part in Napoleon's Russian campaign in 1812.

The modern Polish army emerged during the First World War from the Polish Wehrmacht and the Polish Legions and later in the Second Republic in the course of the Polish-Soviet War , initially with over 800,000 soldiers.

In the People's Republic, the Polish armed forces were under the Soviet leadership under the Warsaw Pact.

After 1989 the military was reformed, the number of soldiers reduced from over 500,000 to 150,000 soldiers (plus 450,000 reserve soldiers) and the equipment modernized. The Polish armed forces have the latest weapons at their disposal, such as the American F-16s , modern Israeli anti-tank guided weapons and the Finnish Patria AMV 8 × 8. In addition, the Polish arms manufacturers were brought up to date through offset investments by the Americans and successfully exported heavy war equipment worldwide. A new elite unit, the GROM unit , was introduced in the 1990s.

Poland joined NATO in March 1999 , having worked in its Partnership for Peace program since 1994 .

F-16 Jastrząb
ORP Generał Pułaski

On November 13, 2006, an agreement was signed with Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia to form a joint EU task force . Poland took over the high command and provided around 1,500 soldiers.

Until 2008 conscription was compulsory for men in Poland .

In 2010, Polish military units were deployed abroad in Afghanistan (2,600 soldiers), Kosovo (320), Bosnia and Herzegovina (204) and Iraq (20).

Air Force

The air force has almost 200 combat aircraft, including 48 F-16 multi-purpose combat aircraft, 36 MiG-29 multi-purpose combat aircraft and 48 Sukhoi Su-22 bombers, as well as around 250 attack helicopters. It is planned to acquire around 50 more combat helicopters.


The Polish Navy has two frigates, a corvette, three speedboats, five submarines, several training and auxiliary ships as well as an aircraft and five helicopters. It is planned to expand the submarine fleet.

Land Forces
Special forces
Swearing in WOT unit

Poland currently has around 120,000 soldiers and 500,000 reservists. The backbone of the land forces are 1065 main battle tanks, of which 249 are Leopard 2 , 232 PT-91 and 528 T-72 , as well as several thousand armored personnel carriers and other armored vehicles, including in particular 1268 BMP-1 , 690 KTO Rosomak , 237 BRDM-2 , 28 Bergepanzer 2 , 74 WPT Mors , 90 TRI , 5 KTO Ryś , 70 D-44 , 27 9P148 "Malyutka" , 217 HMMWV , 75 WR-40 Langusta , 75 BM-21 , 120 AHS Krab , 111 DANA , 342 2S1 , 20 ZSU- 23-4MP Biała , 64 9K33 Osa and around 200 attack helicopters.

Special forces

The Polish special forces have 2250 elite soldiers. The best known special unit is the GROM .

Territorial defense

Territorial Defense Units (WOT) were introduced in 2017 in response to the war in Ukraine. Approximately 8,000 soldiers are currently serving in this unit. The plan is to expand territorial defense to 50,000 soldiers.


Administrative division scheme
Dänemark Russland Litauen Weissrussland Ukraine Slowakei Tschechien Deutschland Westpommern Pommern Ermland-Masuren Podlachien Lublin Karpatenvorland Lebus Niederschlesien Opole Schlesien Kleinpolen Großpolen Kujawien-Pommern Łódź Heiligkreuz Masowien
Polish Voivodeships
The administrative structure of Poland
Masovian Voivodeship Office
Lesser Poland Voivodeship Office
Administrative division

Since January 1, 1999, Poland has been divided into 16 voivodships ( województwo ), which refer to the historical regions of Poland. The smallest voivodeship - Opole - is only about 10,000 square kilometers, while the area of ​​the largest voivodeship - Mazovia - is 3.5 times as large. There are also big differences in terms of the number of inhabitants. While the Masovian Voivodeship has almost 5.5 million inhabitants, less than a million people live in the Opole Voivodeship. A reform of the voivodships is being discussed, in particular the creation of a Central Pomeranian Voivodeship from the outskirts of the Pomeranian and West Pomeranian Voivodeships and the separation of the Warsaw Metropolitan Region from the Masovian Voivodeship. The division of the Opole Voivodeship into the Lower Silesian and Silesian Voivodeships is also under discussion.

Poland is a central state . The autonomy of the voivodeships is limited. In particular, the voivodeships have very limited legislative powers.

Each voivodship has its own representative body as a self-governing body - voivodship sejmik ( sejmik województwa ) and a voivodship board ( zarząd województwa ) elected by them under the voivodship marshal ( marszałek województwa ) as chairman. The voivode ( wojewoda ), on the other hand, is a representative of the central government in Warsaw and is responsible for controlling the self-government of voivodeships, districts ( powiat ) and municipalities ( gmina ) .

The voivodships are divided into rural districts and these in turn into municipalities . A distinction is made between rural communities, urban communities and mixed urban-rural communities. Larger cities usually have both the status of a municipality and a district, i.e. they are not a district. Larger communities are in turn divided into school offices , districts, settlements or colonies. In 2016 there were 16 voivodeships, 380 counties and almost 2,500 municipalities in Poland.

coat of arms flag German name Polish name Capital / capitals Population 2016
Warminsko-mazurskie herb.svg
POL województwo warmińsko-mazurskie flag.svg
Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship Województwo warmińsko-mazurskie Allenstein 1,436,367
POL województwo wielkopolskie COA.svg
POL województwo wielkopolskie flag.svg
Greater Poland Voivodeship Województwo wielkopolskie Poses 3,481,625
POL województwo świętokrzyskie COA.svg
POL województwo świętokrzyskie flag.svg
Holy Cross Voivodeship Województwo świętokrzyskie Kielce 1,252,900
POL województwo podkarpackie COA.svg
POL województwo podkarpackie flag.svg
Subcarpathian Voivodeship Województwo podkarpackie Rzeszów 2,127,656
POL województwo małopolskie COA.svg
POL województwo małopolskie flag.svg
Lesser Poland Voivodeship Województwo małopolskie Krakow 3,382,260
POL województwo kujawsko-pomorskie COA.svg
POL województwo kujawsko-pomorskie flag.svg
Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship Województwo kujawsko-pomorskie Thorn and Bromberg 2,083,927
POL województwo lubuskie COA.svg
POL województwo lubuskie flag.svg
Lubusz Voivodeship Województwo lubuskie Landsberg an der Warthe and Grünberg 1,017,376
POL województwo łódzkie COA.svg
POL województwo łódzkie 1 flag.svg
Łódź Voivodeship Województwo łódzkie Lodsch 2,485,323
POL województwo lubelskie COA.svg
POL województwo lubelskie flag.svg
Lublin Voivodeship Województwo lubelskie Lublin 2,133,340
POL województwo mazowieckie COA.svg
POL województwo mazowieckie flag.svg
Masovian Voivodeship Województwo mazowieckie Warsaw 5,365,898
POL województwo dolnośląskie COA.svg
POL województwo dolnośląskie flag.svg
Lower Silesian Voivodeship Województwo dolnośląskie Wroclaw 2,903,710
POL województwo opolskie COA.svg
POL województwo opolskie flag.svg
Opole Voivodeship Województwo opolskie Opole 993.036
POL województwo podlaskie COA.svg
POL województwo podlaskie flag.svg
Podlaskie Voivodeship Województwo podlaskie Białystok 1,186,625
POL województwo pomorskie COA.svg
POL województwo pomorskie flag.svg
Pomeranian Voivodeship Województwo pomorskie Danzig 2,315,611
POL województwo śląskie COA.svg
POL województwo śląskie flag.svg
Silesian Voivodeship Województwo śląskie Katowice 4,559,164
POL województwo zachodniopomorskie COA.svg
POL województwo zachodniopomorskie flag.svg
West Pomeranian Voivodeship Województwo zachodniopomorskie Szczecin 1,708,174


The biggest cities in Poland
All cities in Poland

In ancient times, Calisia and Turso were mentioned in what is now Poland. It is believed that these places are to be equated with today's cities Kalisz and Elbląg . The pile dwelling settlement of Biskupin dates back to the 8th century BC. Slavic settlements emerged around the 6th century AD, mainly on easily protected sea and river islands around wooden castles of the respective tribal princes. From the 13th century, many localities were granted city rights based on the Magdeburg, Lübeck or Kulmer models. In the High Middle Ages, many cities joined the Hanseatic League or other city leagues. After the political weight in the aristocratic republic shifted from the cities to the nobility, many cities lost their importance in the 18th century. With the reforms of the Great Sejm at the end of the 18th century, the bourgeoisie regained importance in relation to the nobility. However, the reforms did not last due to the last two Polish partitions. The modern Polish cities emerged in the course of industrialization in the 19th century.

According to the Central Statistics Office , there were 919 cities in Poland in 2016 . About 40 cities in Poland have a population of more than 100,000 and are therefore considered large cities. The smallest town Wyśmierzyce had 921 inhabitants and Warsaw as the most populous city almost 2000 times more. The smallest city in terms of area was Stawiszyn with 0.99 km² and Warsaw had the largest area with 517.24 km². The smallest population density was Krynica Morska with 12 people / km² and the highest Legionowo with 3996 people / km².

The largest cities in Poland are Warsaw , Krakow , Łódź , Wroclaw , Poznan , Gdansk , Szczecin , Bydgoszcz and Lublin . The largest agglomerations are the greater Warsaw area, the regions around Katowice , Łódź, Krakow and the so-called " Tricity " with Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia . 60.5% of the Polish population live in cities, making Poland one of the less urbanized countries in Europe.

Economy and Infrastructure

In 2016, Poland's economy ranked 24th in the world in terms of both gross domestic product (USD 467,647 million) and purchasing power parity (USD 1,054,319 million).

Since the end of socialism, the Polish economy has developed comparatively well. Poland has seen consistently positive economic growth in recent years. Poland was the only European country that did not experience a recession as a result of the global crisis (2008). The economy has continued to recover since 2013, driven by domestic demand, especially investment and consumption. In 2017, the gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 4.6 percent compared to the previous year. Growth is promoted by a business-friendly policy, fiscal stability, flexible labor law, the consistent use of EU funds for the expansion of the infrastructure and, last but not least, extensive foreign direct investments. Compared with the GDP of the EU expressed in purchasing power standards reached Poland 2015 index value of 69 (EU-28: 100) and about 55% of the German level.

The gross domestic product is distributed very differently from region to region. The richest voivodships in 2009 were Mazovia (133% of the national average) and Lower Silesia (114%) as well as the poorest voivodships Lublin (68% of the national average), Subcarpathian (71%) and Świętokrzyskie (74%). The unemployment was about 6.6 percent in December 2017 the number of registered unemployed persons was 1.08 million in the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, occupied Poland ranked 39th of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018) . In 2017, Poland ranked 45th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index . Poland is a largely open economy that benefits greatly from free trade in the European Union.

While inflation was 2.581% in 2010, deflation has prevailed in Poland since mid-2014.

In the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International was Poland in 2017 by 180 countries together with the Seychelles on the 36th place.

State budget

Government debt ratio

The state budget included expenditures in 2017 of 375.9 billion PLN , which were revenues of 350.5 billion PLN over. This results in a budget deficit of PLN 25.4 billion.

The national debt amounted to 52% of GDP in the third quarter of 2017 and was well below the values ​​for the EU average of 82.5% and the euro zone of 88.1%.

The share of government expenditure (in% of GDP) in the following areas in recent years was:


In Poland taxes are levied at national and regional level. The most important taxes are national taxes, specifically income tax, corporate tax, and sales tax. Apart from sales tax, the Polish tax rates are relatively low by international standards.

In Poland there is a linear income tax with three tax rates of 0% (basic allowance), 18% and 32%. The top Polish income tax rate is 32% and is relatively low by international standards. Entrepreneurs also have the option of paying a linear income tax rate of 19% if they submit a simplified tax return in which they waive the assertion of certain business expenses.

There is no trade tax in Poland. Likewise, no church tax and no solidarity surcharge are levied.

Corporate income tax is levied on the income of corporations. The tax rate is 15% for small corporations and 19% for large corporations.

There is no wealth tax in Poland. However, the municipalities levy a property tax on real estate located in them.

The sales tax rates are 0%, 5%, 7%, 8% and 23%. Certain sales that are not subject to sales tax are taxed with a transaction tax with rates of 0.1% to 2%.

Poland has a double taxation treaty with most countries to avoid double taxation in the area of ​​income taxation.

Foreign trade

In 2016 exports totaled EUR 183.0 billion and imports EUR 178.2 billion. Since Poland is a cheap production location for foreign companies, it now has a positive trade balance. With 27.4% of exports and 28.3% of imports, Germany was the largest trading partner. Other important trading partners are the EU countries Italy, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic as well as Russia, the People's Republic of China and the USA.

Foreign trade development
Export (in percent) to Import (in percent) of
Main trading partner of Poland (2016)
GermanyGermany Germany 27.4 GermanyGermany Germany 28.3
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 6.6 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 7.9
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic 6.6 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 6.0
FranceFrance France 5.4 RussiaRussia Russia 5.8
ItalyItaly Italy 4.8 ItalyItaly Italy 5.3
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 4.5 FranceFrance France 4.2
SwedenSweden Sweden 2.9 Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic 4.1
other countries 41.8 other countries 38.4

labour market

In spring 2019, the unemployment rate according to the CIS was 5.9%, which made up almost one million people of working age, and according to Eurostat it was 3.5%. Previously, in October 2012, according to the main Polish statistical office, unemployment was 12.5%.

Unemployment in Poland is distributed very differently from region to region. In the cities of Poznan and Warsaw there is practically full employment, while in the rural regions of Warmia-Masuria unemployment in September 2017 according to the CIS was 11.8%. In November 2006, 13.2 percent of the registered unemployed received unemployment benefits. Around 12% of the workforce was employed in agriculture in 2013, which is high compared to the EU average (5%). 30.3% work in industry and 57.8% in the service sector. Around a third of the jobs are in the public sector.

power supply

The gross electricity generation of the Polish power plants was approx. 160 TWh in 2012. The electrical energy supply in Poland is largely based on the generation of electricity from hard coal and lignite , which together provided 88.6% of Polish electricity in 2012. The most important mining company is the state-owned Kompania Węglowa . Gas power plants were largely insignificant, renewable energies covered 8.7% of the electricity demand, with biomass ahead of the rapidly growing wind energy and hydropower . Poland has abundant stocks of geothermal energy , which is currently being increasingly used in Kujawia near Thorn and in the mountainous region of Podhale near Zakopane . At 16.6%, the share of combined heat and power generation is at a relatively high level. Due to the very high proportion of conventional energy sources, Polish politicians are campaigning against ambitious climate protection goals out of concern about possible high costs. Polish politics also rely on coal power in order to be as independent as possible from energy imports.

So far, the country has no commercially operated nuclear power plants , but operates the Maria research reactor , which became critical on December 18, 1974, a small experimental reactor with a thermal output of 30 MW. This currently works with only two thirds of the power. Uranium mining was carried out in the south-west of the country until 1968. The planning of new nuclear power plants was suspended in June 2013. The reason for the step was that the costs were too high.


logo Companies Branch Seat Turnover
(million PLN)
The ten best-selling, listed Polish companies in 2016
Orlen Logo.svg
PKN Orlen SA raw materials Plock 79,553 4,445
PGNiG Logo.svg
PGNiG raw materials Danzig 33,196 5,168
Polska Grupa Energetyczna logo.svg
PGE SA energy Warsaw 28.092 44,317
PZU logo.png
PZU SA insurance Warsaw 22,212 36,419
Lotus logo.svg
Grupa Lotos SA raw materials Danzig 20,931 33,071
Kghm nowe logo.svg
KGHM Polska Miedź SA raw materials Lubin 19,556 18,578
Tauron Polska Energia Logo.svg
Tauron Group SA energy Katowice 17,646 26,710
Cinkciarz.pl Sp. Z oo Credit institution Zielona Góra 14,283 22,556
Logotype PKO BP.svg
PKO BP Credit institution Warsaw 13,544 5,303
Enea SA logo.svg
Enea SA energy Poses 11,255 23,805

Poland's economy is considered the regional leader in Central and Eastern Europe with 40% of the 500 highest-turnover listed companies in the region that are based in Poland.


Tourism is a major contributor to service sector revenues. According to the World Tourism Organization , Poland is the 16th most popular destination for international tourists. In 2015 over 16.7 million foreign tourists came to Poland, which is an increase of 4.6% compared to the previous year. The tourism sector had a volume of almost 10 billion US dollars in 2015 . In 2016, the number of entries to Poland was 80.5 million, of which around 17.5 million can be classified as tourist.

The most popular travel destination in Poland is the former capital Krakow , which has numerous architectural monuments and works of art from the Polish Golden Age of the late Gothic and Renaissance periods. The cities of Warsaw , Wroclaw , Gdansk , Poznan , Szczecin , Lublin , Torun and Zakopane are also important tourist destinations . Tourism also plays an important role in the municipalities of Krynica-Zdrój , Karpacz , Szklarska Poręba , Biecz , Zamość , Sandomierz , Kazimierz Dolny , Czestochowa , Gniezno , Frombork , Malbork , Gdynia , Sopot , Kołobręzeg , Świnouje . Mijście and Many cities offer tourist services for families with children, for example Wroclaw with the Wroclaw dwarfs , Warsaw, Kielce , Gdansk and Szczecin. Some smaller places in Poland are members of the Cittàslow Association , which focus on balanced tourism.

Visitor magnets are: the Wieliczka salt mine , the museum in the house where Fryderyk Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola near Sochaczew , the memorial site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp , the coast of the Baltic Sea , the large lakes in Greater Poland , Masuria , Kashubia and Suwalki and the mountain ranges of the Sudetenland and the Sudeten Mountains Carpathians , especially the Tatras with the High Tatras and Western Tatras , in which the highest peak in Poland, the Meeraugspitze, and the famous Orla Perć high-altitude trail are located. Popular recreational areas are the Świętokrzyskie Mountains , Beskydy , Pieninen , Kraków-Częstochowa Jura and Roztocze, as well as Szczecin and Fresh Lagoon .

Hiking on Meerauge in the Tatras

The Polish Mountain Association PTTK operates around 200 shelters and mountain huts in the Polish mountains and maintains 63,000 kilometers of (long-distance) hiking trails, of which the Beskydy main hiking trail , the Sudeten main hiking trail , the Pieninen trail and the trail of Polish-Czech friendship the most well-known are.

The world heritage in Poland includes fifteen positions, including the old towns of Krakow , Warsaw , Toruń and Zamość .

There are 23 national parks in Poland, all of which are accessible to tourists, with the exception of strictly protected nature reserves. With three million visitors, the Tatra National Park is the most popular.

Cycle tourism is also enjoying increasing popularity in Poland, for example the Eastern Green Velo cycle route .

There are many waterways for kayaking, canoeing, sailing and houseboats on rivers and waterways, for example on the Pilica , the Krutynia or the Czarna Hańcza .

There are numerous ski areas in the Carpathians and Sudetes , most of them in and around Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains and Szczyrk in the Silesian Beskids and Karpacz in the Giant Mountains .

Spa holidays in the numerous health resorts such as Połczyn-Zdrój or Ciechocinek are also popular .

Thermal baths, which have opened in recent years, especially in the mountainous region of Podhale near Zakopane, are enjoying increasing popularity .

In Poland there are over a hundred preserved medieval castles and palaces , including the Adlerhorst , Dunajec and Deutschordensburg castles . Renaissance and Baroque palaces are mainly found in eastern Poland and Warsaw . In contrast, manors belonging to the Polish aristocracy are scattered all over the country.


Poland is an important transit country from Northern Europe to Southern Europe and from Western Europe to Eastern Europe . In ancient times and in the Middle Ages , important trade routes led through today's Poland, such as the Amber Road , the European section of the Silk Road , the trade route from Western Europe to Asia .

Road traffic
Motorway network

The road network has a total length of around 382,000 km, including around 1,374 km of motorways and a further 1,050 km of expressways .

In 2007, the Polish motorway network was two and a half times smaller than that of Switzerland . From 2007 to 2012, the motorway network was almost doubled, adding a total of 672.5 kilometers. When fully expanded, the network should be almost 2000 kilometers. The network of expressways in 2006 totaled 266.2 km. In the six years from 2007 to 2012, 854 kilometers were completed and the expressway network increased fivefold. The road network of expressway connections should cover a total of 5500 km.

18,368 km of state roads ( Polish : droga krajowa ) serve - similar to the German federal roads - national and international traffic. On January 1, 1999, 28,444 km of state roads were downgraded to voivodship roads (Polish: droga wojewódzka ). There are also 128,870 km of county roads (Polish: droga powiatowa ) and 203,773 km of municipal roads (Polish: droga gminna ).

There are over 12 million passenger cars and 2 million trucks and other commercial vehicles registered in Poland. At the end of 2007, a total of 383 cars per 1,000 inhabitants were registered; the EU average was 486. In 2017, around 350,000 old diesel vehicles were imported, most of them from Germany. And this despite the fact that, according to the WHO, 33 of the 50 European cities with the highest levels of air pollution were in Poland in the same year .

Public transport, which is still very important in Poland despite growing individual traffic, is served by an extensive intercity bus network. Bus traffic plays a bigger role than rail traffic nationwide.

In 2004, 5,700 people died in road accidents in Poland, a rate four times higher than the EU average. However, this is already a reduction in the number; in 1999 there were 6730 deaths and in 1998 - 7080. Places with a high accident rate are often identified by a so-called black point ( czarny point ).

Since April 14, 2007, all-day and year-round lights have been compulsory for cars and trucks, with low beam or daytime running lights being mandatory. Since June 1, 2007, there has been an absolute alcohol ban on driving motor vehicles, after a blood alcohol concentration of 0.2 per mille was permitted up until then .

Rail network

For motorways, expressways and state roads, a route-dependent toll for motor vehicles must be paid on selected road sections . For vehicles with a permissible total weight of more than 3.5 tonnes (including trucks ), a system called viaTOLL by the state operator GDDKiA and manual toll payment on the motorway sections of the private operators are possible. For vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of less than or equal to 3.5 tonnes (including passenger cars ), there is the option of using the viaTOLL system or manual tolling at the toll stations on the road sections operated by the GDDKiA . Only manual tolls are possible on sections of the motorway operated by private operators.

Rail transport

Rail transport in Poland still plays an important role in the Polish transport system, even after the strong growth in private transport over the past two decades. The Polish railway infrastructure company PKP PLK is one of the largest European railway companies with over 23,420 km of rail network. At the Polish eastern border, the European standard gauge network meets the wider Russian track system .

Air traffic

Poland has 14 airports, 123 national airfields and three helicopter bases. The number of passengers has increased rapidly in recent years. Since the regional airports are already reaching their capacities, the decision was made in 2017 to build a central airport between Warsaw and Łódź near Grodzisk Mazowiecki , which should have an annual capacity of around 50 million passengers, making it one of the largest airports in Europe would.

International waterways

The overseas trading fleet consists of over 100 ships. Sea ports are located along the Baltic coast, with most of the cargo being transhipped in Gdansk , Szczecin - Swinoujscie , Gdynia , Kołobrzeg and Elbląg . There is also the Police port , which primarily serves the local chemical industry facilities. Passenger ferries connect Poland with Scandinavia Passenger all year round. Polferries has its ports in Gdansk and Świnoujści, Stena Line in Gdynia and Unity Line in Świnoujście.

The following regular ferry connections exist:

Inland shipping is being expanded. Poland has 3,812 kilometers of navigable rivers and canals, many of which are part of international waterways. The main inland ports are in Warsaw , Gliwice , Wroclaw and Krakow .

Local transport

Local transport in Poland consists mainly of buses and trams. Warsaw also has a metro, and Krakow Łódź, Poznan, Wroclaw , Gdansk and Szczecin have a network of light rail vehicles. Trolleybuses operate in Lublin, Gdynia, Tychy and Sopot.



The world's first modern education ministry was founded in 1773 as part of the Enlightenment reforms in the Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic republic . Today's education system in Poland is changing. After the turnaround in 1989 there were two major reforms in 1999 and 2017. According to the new guidelines, the grammar schools introduced in 1999 are to be abolished by 2019. The school system will then consist of kindergartens, eight-year elementary schools and secondary schools such as four-year lyceums, five-year vocational high schools and other vocational schools. The Abitur will be taken after graduating from a high school or high school. The Abitur exam should be significantly more difficult again. Passing the Abitur examination is a prerequisite for studying at a university. Since 2017, parents have been able to choose whether they want their children to start school at the age of six or seven. The state schools are free, but school supplies such as books, exercise books, pens or satchels must be carried privately. The school year starts on September 1st and ends in the first half of June. The school holidays during the school year are decided by the individual voivodships and should be staggered so that not all children go skiing in the mountains at the same time.

In the 2015 PISA ranking , Polish students ranked 17th out of 72 countries in mathematics, 22nd in science and 13th in reading comprehension. Poland is thus above the average of the OWCE countries .


The oldest Polish university and the second oldest in Central Europe is the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, which was founded in 1364 by Casimir the Great . The four next oldest Polish universities in Vilnius (1579), Zamość (1594), Raków (1602) and Lemberg (1661) no longer exist or were relocated to Wroclaw and Thorn after the end of World War II. Almost two million students study in Poland. The universities have been largely independent of instructions from the state regarding their educational offers since 1989. In 2008 there were 130 state and 315 non-state universities in Poland. There were also 78 institutions of the Polska Akademia Nauk ( Polish Academy of Sciences ) and around 200 independent research institutions. Since the 1990s, state universities have faced increasing competition from private universities. Studying at state universities in Poland is basically free of charge in full-time courses. Extra-occupational part-time, weekend and distance learning courses as well as studying at private universities are chargeable. The universities award the titles Magister, Licencjat , Ingenieur, Doktor and Doktor hab. The Magister is awarded after a standard period of four to five years of study, which ends with a thesis. In human medicine, the medical doctor's degree replaces the master’s degree; in veterinary medicine, the corresponding degree is called a veterinary doctor . In technical courses, the Magister degree is supplemented by the addition of an engineer .

coat of arms Surname dedication Seat founding year comment
Herb Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego.svg
Jagiellonian University Jagiellonian Krakow 1364
University of Wroclaw Wroclaw 1702 1945 re-founded by professors from
the University of Lemberg, founded in 1661
Seal of the University of Warsaw.svg
Warsaw University Warsaw 1816
Catholic University of Lublin John Paul II Lublin 1918
Adam Mickiewicz University.svg
University of Poznan Adam Mickiewicz Poses 1919
Logo Maria Curie Skłodowska University Lublin.png
MCS University Marie Curie-Skłodowska Lublin 1944
UMK logo 2015.svg
University of Thorn Nicolaus Copernicus Toruń 1945 Founded in 1945 by professors
from Vilnius University, founded in 1579
Logo UL.png
University of Łódź Łódź 1945
University of Szczecin Szczecin 1945
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński Warsaw 1954
University of Katowice Katowice 1968
Seal of the University of Bydgoszcz.svg
University of Bydgoszcz Casimir the Great Bydgoszcz 1969
Kielce University Jan Kochanowski Kielce 1969
University of Gdansk Danzig 1970
University of Opole Opole 1994
University of Białystok Logo.svg
University of Białystok Białystok 1997
University of Warmia-Masuria Allenstein 1999
Rzeszów University Rzeszów 2001
Logo University of Zielona Góra.png
University of Grünberg Grünberg 2001
University of SWPS.svg
University of Social Sciences and Humanities SWPS Warsaw 2015


With the foundation of the dioceses in the year 1000, church schools were gradually opened at the bishopric. With the Cistercian Order , Western science also came to Poland. As early as 1364, Casimir the Great founded the Cracow University, which is the second oldest alma mater in Central Europe. It was the first university to have an independent professorship for mathematics and astronomy. Their rector Paweł Włodkowic - one of the most important international lawyers of the time - put forward the thesis at the Council of Constance in 1415 that pagan peoples had a right to their own state and should not be Christianized with the sword. The fact that he did not have to share the fate of his Prague colleague Jan Hus was due to the numerous Polish knights who were present at the council.

Science in Poland reached its peak during the period of humanism . One of the Krakow students was Nicolaus Copernicus , who, among other things, acquired the mathematical and astronomical tools for his later development of the heliocentric worldview . Important astronomers and mathematicians of that time were Marcin Król , Marcin Bylica , Marcin Biem , Johann von Glogau and Albert de Brudzewo . Adam von Bochinia and Maciej Miechowita were leaders in (Al) chemistry and medicine . New universities were founded in Zamość , Raków , Vilnius , Poznan and Lviv , as well as the numerous Jesuit schools. After the wars of the 17th century, however, Polish science deteriorated and reached its low point during the Saxon period. The Collegium Nobilium founded by the Piarists in Warsaw in 1740 was an exception .

When Stanisław August Poniatowski took office , the Enlightenment began to reorganize Polish universities through Hugo Kołłątaj as part of the Commission for National Education , the world's first Ministry of Education. Stanisław Staszic is considered to be one of the most important scientists and industrialists of this time , who founded an Academy of Science in Warsaw around 1800. Warsaw University was founded in 1817 . On this basis, Polish science was able to develop in the 19th century. Ignacy Łukasiewicz discovered a method of distilling petroleum around 1850 . Napoleon Cybulski and Władysław Szymonowicz created modern endocrinology . Zygmunt Wróblewski and Karol Olszewski succeeded for the first time in liquefying oxygen and nitrogen. Stefan Banach and Hugo Steinhaus founded functional analysis in mathematics. The doctor Casimir Funk coined the term vitamins. Marie Skłodowska-Curie developed the field of radioactivity and discovered polonium and radium . She was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize and the first person to be awarded two (physics and chemistry). Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski developed Polish economics, which he was able to put into practice as Minister of Economics after Poland's independence.

During the Second Republic, the Polish language was reintroduced in Polish universities, and teaching and science flourished. One of the greatest Polish lawyers, Roman Longchamps de Bérier , unified the Polish civil law system , which in 1918 still consisted of five legal systems. Its law of obligations code is considered one of the best in the world.

The Second World War was a disaster for Polish science, because the National Socialists wanted to destroy the Polish elite. Hundreds of Polish professors were murdered or deported to concentration camps in the first weeks of the war. The pinnacle of these crimes was the Cracow special campaign and the massacre of the Lviv professors . The Soviet Union also carried out such actions; Thus among the victims of the Katyn massacre were 21 university professors, several hundred teachers, about 300 doctors and other academics. During the war, the Polish university libraries were also robbed and their holdings purposefully destroyed, so that in 1945 a complete new beginning was necessary. In addition, many of the surviving scientists fled the Communists to western countries, and the survivors among the Polish Jews emigrated to Israel. Polish science was slow to recover. The Polish restorers soon enjoyed world fame again, but the other sciences lacked an exchange with the already leading US universities. This only changed after 1989. In 2001 the successes on developments in the blue laser in practical medicine were presented.


Polish culture is very diverse and results from the eventful history of the country . In the Middle Ages and modern times, the multicultural aristocratic republic was a melting pot of different cultures and religions, all of which had and still have their influence on the Polish cultural heritage. After the partition of Poland , Polish artists tried again and again to support the struggle for Poland's independence - under the slogan "To lift the heart". Examples of this are the poems and epics by Adam Mickiewicz , the prose works by Henryk Sienkiewicz , one of the first Nobel Prize winners for literature, the history painting by Jan Matejko or the Mazurkas and Polkas Krakowiaks and the Polonaisen by Frédéric Chopin .

Today, the diverse culture of Poland, like all western countries, is affected by globalization tendencies, especially in the big cities, on the other hand, especially in the cultural scene of smaller cities and in the country, it can acquire its own identity. Polish symbolism and poster painting are particularly important . Polish artist posters with their very specific properties are known all over the world.



Open air concert at the Chopin monument

middle Ages

The first surviving Polish compositions date back to the reign of Mieszko II. Lambert at the beginning of the 11th century. The first musician in Poland known by name is the Dominican Wincenty z Kielczy , who lived in the first half of the 13th century and wrote the hymn "Gaude mater Polonia". In contrast, the author of the oldest known Polish song Bogurodzica is unknown. In addition to hymns, medieval Polish music was characterized by dances. Mikołaj Radomski wrote them down at the beginning of the 15th century. Peter von Graudenz was a composer of the first half of the 15th century associated with the Krakow Academy.


During the Renaissance, many Italian musicians came to the Polish royal court. Mikołaj Gomółka was the best-known Polish composer of the 16th century. He wrote compositions for the poems of Jan Kochanowski ( Melodie na Psałterz polski ). Other important Renaissance composers at the Polish royal court were Wacław von Szamotuł , Marcin Leopolita , Mikołaj Zielński and Jakub Reys , who also worked in France. John of Lublin was an important church musician in Krakow, who was mainly associated with the local Holy Spirit Church. In 1540 the male choir Capella Rorantistarum was founded by Sigismund I at Kraków's royal court under the direction of Nicholas from Posen , who worked in the Wawel Cathedral from 1543 to 1794 .


In 1628 the first opera outside of Italy was performed in Warsaw: Galatea . The Italian opera composers Luca Marenzio , Giovanni Francesco Anerio and Marco Scacchi worked in Warsaw during the Baroque period. During the relatively short reign of Władysław IV. Wasa from 1634 to 1648, more than ten operas were performed in Warsaw, making Warsaw the most important opera center outside Italy at that time. The world's first female opera composer, Francesca Caccini , wrote her first opera La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina for the Polish king when he was still a prince. The Polish baroque composers composed mainly church music; its best-known creators are Adam Jarzębski , Marcin Mielczewski , Bartłomiej Pękiel and Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki .


In the late Baroque period, the polonaise also emerged as a dance at Polish courts, while the peasant society developed regionally different dances such as the Mazurkas of Krakowiak and Chodzony and the polkas , which are also known in the Czech Republic . The most important polonaise composers in the 18th century were Michał Kleofas Ogiński , Karol Kurpiński , Juliusz Zarębski , Henryk Wieniawski , Mieczysław Karłowicz and Joseph Elsner . Polish opera also developed further in the 18th century. Well-known opera composers were Wojciech Bogusławski and Jan Stefani . Jacek Szczurowski composed the first Polish symphony around 1750.

19th century

Nevertheless, it was only Frédéric Chopin who was to bring Polish music to perfection in the first half of the 19th century. He is considered one of the greatest Polish composers. In the 19th century, Stanisław Moniuszko developed modern Polish opera, the most famous of which is Halka . At this time Oskar Kolberg began to collect and write down Polish folklore music. The folklore ensembles Mazowsze , Słowianki and Śląsk owe their creation to his works . Karol Szymanowski , who settled in Zakopane , discovered the traditional music of the Gorals in Podhale , which he further developed in the 19th century.

20th century

Famous composers from the interwar period were Artur Rubinstein , Ignacy Jan Paderewski , Grażyna Bacewicz , Zygmunt Mycielski , Michał Spisak and Tadeusz Szeligowski . The contemporary Polish music of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski , Roman Palester , Andrzej Panufnik , Tadeusz Baird , Boguslaw Schaeffer , Włodzimierz Kotoński , Witold Szalonek , Krzysztof Penderecki , Witold Lutoslawski , Wojciech Kilar , Kazimierz Serocki , Henryk Górecki , Krzysztof Meyer , Paweł Szymański , Krzesimir Dębski , Hanna Kulenty , Eugeniusz Knapik and Jan AP Kaczmarek represented. Jazz musicians in Poland are counted among the best in Europe. In the 1950s, jazz developed into an important music genre in the country. The Jazz Jamboree has been held since 1958, and American musicians such as Miles Davis were already performing during the time of the People's Republic of Poland .

21st century

Due to the globalization of the music scene, contemporary music in Poland hardly differs from music in other parts of the globalized world. This is especially true for pop and rock music, but also for composers of classical music of the 21st century.

Visual arts


Ruins of the Lednickier Palas


Until the 9th century, most of the buildings in what is now Poland's area were made of wood, such as the Biskupin settlement . Only burial mounds and ritual stone circles have survived from this period, such as the Krakow barrows Krak Hill and Wanda Hill . Christian architecture came to Lesser Poland in the 9th century , which came under the influence of the Great Moravian Empire. Latin-Christian architecture came to Greater Poland as pre-Romanesque around the middle of the 10th century. The castles and churches of the Polans were built in this style . In the history of Polish architecture, the pre-Romanesque era is set with the reigns of the three first historically verifiable Piasts Mieszko I , Bolesław I and Mieszko II . The oldest pre-Romanesque stone building in Poland may have been the Poznan Palas on Cathedral Island , which dates back to the 940s. Slightly younger were the Gieczer Palas and the Ostrów Lednicki Palas , which were also located in Greater Poland, as well as the Przemyśler Palas . The first stone churches also were mainly in Wielkopolska, including the 968 started Poznan Cathedral , which began before 977 Gniezno Archcathedral and founded 997 Benedictine abbey in Tum , as well as the Krakow Wawel , the Church B and the Rotunda of the Blessed Virgin Mary , the each date from before 970. When the church organization in Poland was reformed in the year 1000, the dioceses of Krakow, Wroclaw and Kolberg were added to the original diocese of Poznan with the archbishopric of Gnesen. Cathedrals were built in all dioceses around the turn of the millennium, including on the Wawel in Krakow, the cathedral on the Wroclaw Cathedral Island and the Kolberg Cathedral . In 1038, at the beginning of the reign of Kasimir I, the Renewer , a pagan revolt against the Catholic Church in Poland took place, in which most of the pre-Romanesque buildings were destroyed, so that from this era only foundations have been preserved except for the rotunda on the Wawel.

Romanesque St. Thomas Church


After the pagan revolt was put down, Casimir I the Renewer moved his seat of government from Gniezno to the Kraków Wawel and began to rebuild Poland in the Romanesque style . Thus, the cathedrals in Gniezno, Krakow, Wroclaw, Kolberg and poses were in the new style of architecture built and numerous rotundas (eg the. Strehlener Gothardrotunde , the Cieszyn Nikolausrotunda or Strzelnoer Prokop rotunda ), fortified churches and Cistercians - and Benedictine - monasteries built. Most of the Romanesque buildings were built in the new capital Krakow, where the Leonhard Crypt in the Wawel Cathedral , the Albert Church , the Andrew Church , the Salvator Church , the Cistercian Abbey of Mogila Monastery and the Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec Monastery have been preserved. Also in Malopolska go Kościelecer Albert Church , the Sandomirer Jacob Church , the Wiślicaer Mary's Basilica , the Końskier collegiate , Opatowska collegiate that Skalbmierzer Jacob Church , the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Cross Monastery , the Cistercian abbey monastery Wąchock and the Cistercian abbey monastery Jędrzejów to the Romanesque back. Wielkopolska Romanesque buildings are the Benedictine Abbey Lubin monastery that Inowłódzer Giles church , the Collegiate Church of Tum and sulejów abbey with the Thomas Church . In Kujawia, in addition to the Strzelno Procoprotundum, there is also the Trinity Church in the same place, the Mogilno Benedictine monastery and the Inowrocław Church of St. Mary . In Silesia the go Legnica Piast Castle , the Giles Church , the Breslauer Magdalene Church , the Premonstratensian St. Vincent , the Beslauer Martin Church , St. Bartholomew's crypt of the monastery Trebnitz that Löwenberger Marienkirche , the Goldberger Mary's Church and the Gliwice Bartholomew Church on Romanesque back . In Pomerania, the Camminer Cathedral and the Cistercian Abbey of Kolbatz Monastery were built during the Romanesque period. The Czerwińsk Regular Canon Abbey and Płock Cathedral date from the Romanesque period in Mazovia . Many Romanesque buildings were destroyed during the Mongol storm in 1241. This date also marks the definitive end of the Romanesque era in Poland. The reconstruction was already carried out in the early Gothic style.


The Gothic came in the 13th century on the one hand from Bohemia - among other things, the Prague Parlers built the Kraków City Hall - first to Silesia and from there to Greater and Lesser Poland and later to Mazovia . On the other hand, the Hanseatic League and the Teutonic Order brought brick Gothic to Pomerania , Kulmerland , Warmia and Masuria . In northern Poland, for example, brick Gothic and a mixed brick-limestone Gothic dominate in the south, particularly in Krakow. The early Gothic coincides with the reconstruction of Poland after the Mongol storm in the middle of the 13th century.

The Romanesque cathedrals in Cracow, Wroclaw, Gniezno, Posen, Cammin, Płock and Oliva near Danzig were Gothicized in this context. Were in this style newly built cathedrals such as the Cathedral of the Assumption and St. Andrew in Frombork that Nicholas Cathedral in Elbing , the Saint Mary's Cathedral in Pelplin , the St. John's Cathedral in Thorn that Jacob Cathedral in Szczecin , the Saint Mary's Cathedral in Koszalin , the Saint Mary's Cathedral in Landsberg , the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Opole , the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in Liegnitz , the Stanislaus Cathedral in Schweidnitz , the St. Mary's Cathedral in Sandomir , the St. Mary's Cathedral in Tarnów , the St. Mary's Cathedral in Przemyśl , St. Mary's Cathedral in Włocławek or the St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw , as well as concathedrals such as the Trinity Cathedral in Kulmsee , the Trinity Cathedral in Kulmsee , the Marienkonkathedrale in Kolberg , the Johanneskonkathedrale in Marienwerder , the Cathedral Basilica of St. Jakob in Allenstein , the Adalbertkonkathedrale in Riesenburg and Hedwigkonkathedrale in Grünberg .

From the first half of the 13th century, the Franciscans and Dominicans built their Gothic monasteries with monastery churches in the inner cities such as the Krakow Trinity Church , the Krakow Franziskuskirche , the Breslau Albertkirche , the Breslau St. Vincent Church , the Gdańsk Trinity Church , the Thorner Marienkirche , the Opole Trinity , the Warsaw Anna Church and the Sandomirer Jakob Church . The Cistercians also rebuilt in the Gothic style, including in the monasteries of Mogila , Trebnitz , Kolbatz and Pelplin . The Order of Malta built the Peter and Paul Basilica in Striegau . The Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem built the Johanneskirche in Gnesen and the Sepulcher Church in Miechów . The Augustinian order built its monastery with the Church of St. Catherine in Kazimierz near Cracow.

The bourgeoisie, which grew steadily in the Gothic era, rebuilt its parish and college churches in the Gothic style. To this end, it built new Gothic parish churches, for example in Krakow the Marienkirche , the Barbarakirche , the Markuskirche , the Heiligkreuzkirche , the Allheiligenkirche (not preserved) and the Kazimierzer Corpus Christi church , in Wroclaw the Elisabethkirche , Kreuzkirche , the St. Maria auf dem Sande , the Christophorikirche , the St. Catherine's Church , the Church of Corpus Christi , the Dorotheakirche , the Matthias Church , the Magdalene Church in Gdansk St. Mary's Church , the largest brick church in the world, the Nicholas Church , St. Peter and Paul Church and the St. Catherine's Church and Thorn, the Church of St. James , the Neißer Jacob Church , the Szczecin St. John's Church , the Brieger Nikolauskirche , the Rügenwalder Marienkirche , the Stargarder Marienkirche , the Basilica of the Most Holy Redeemer and all Saints in Dobre Miasto , the Gleiwitzer All Saints Church , the Georgkirche in Rastenburg and the Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Żary .

Gothic wooden churches have been preserved in Haczów , Dębno and Lipnica Dolna , among others .

The bourgeoisie built their town halls in the new style. The Parler built the town hall in Krakow . Also worth mentioning are the Wroclaw City Hall , the Rectangular City Hall in Gdansk, the Thorner City Hall , the Marienburg City Hall , the Stargard City Hall , the Königsberg City Hall and the Liegnitz City Hall . Numerous Gothic town houses have been preserved in Kraków (including the Długosz House ), Gdansk (including the Schlieffhaus ), Thorn (including the Junkerhof and the Copernicus House ), Sandomierz (including the Długosz House ) and Stargard . Gothic city fortifications and city walls are among others in Krakow, in particular the section around the Florianstor with the Barbican , in Gdansk, in particular the Brotbänkentor , the Frauentor , the Häkertor , the Johannistor , the Milchkannentor , the Kuhtor , the Peinkammertor and the Krantor , in Stargard , including the Mühlentor , in Olsztyn , in particular the High Gate , in Szydłów , in particular the Krakauer Tor , in Sandomierz , in particular the Opatower Tor , in Lublin , in particular the Krakauer Tor , in Neisse , in particular the Munsterberger Tower , in Patschkau and received in Königsberg . The Collegium Maius of Kraków University also dates back to the Gothic period. The Kłodzko St. John's Bridge was built as a smaller version of Prague's Charles Bridge. The Jews also built their first synagogues in the Gothic style, including the Old Synagogue in Kazimierz near Cracow.

The royal castle on Wawel and numerous royal castles of the Piast dynasty and nobility were in Krakow-Czestochowa Jura ( Trail of the Eagles' Nests : the castle Bedzin , which Bobolice Castle , the Castle Korzkiew that ojców castle that Tenczyn Castle , the castle Lipowiec , the Burg Rabsztyn , the castle Smoleń , the castle Mirów , the Olsztyn Castle , the castle Siewierz , the castle Przewodziszowice , the castle Morsko , the castle Danków and the castle Ostrężnik ), the Pieninen ( Niedzica castle , castle Czorsztyn and Pieninen Castle ) and Beskid ( Dunajec castles : the castle Czchów , the castle Tropsztyn , the Castle Rytro , the castle Muszyna , the Castle Lanckorona , the castle Zator , the castle Auschwitz and the salt Grafenburg Wieliczka and the Castle Dobczyce ), the Holy cross Mountains (including the Castle Chęciny the castle Szydłów and the castle Międzygórz ), the Sudeten (including the Chojnik Castle , the castle Fürstenstein that Czocha Castle , the castle Grodno , the Grodziec Castle , the castle Ottmachau or Castle Frank enstein ) and among others in the lowlands ( Burg Czersk , the castle Toszek that Burg Ciechanów , the castle Łowicz , the castle Wenecja , the castle Thorn , the Lublin Castle or Castle Dębno ) built.

Gothic Marienburg

The Teutonic Order built order castles in the brick Gothic style in Kulmerland , Warmia and Masuria . The best-known order castles in today's Poland include the order's seat in Marienburg am Nogat - the largest Gothic brick building in the world -, Marienwerder , Heilsberg , Mewe , Neidenburg , Barten , Thorn , Neidenburg , Osterode , Gollub , Rehden , Rößel , Schönberg , Hohenstein , Rastenburg , Allenstein , Braunsberg , Soldau , Schlochau , Lötzen and Bütow .

Casimir III The Great incorporated Red Ruthenia into the Polish crown around 1340 and Ladislaus II Jagiełło Christianized Lithuania from Poland after the union of Krewo, which was concluded in 1385 . As a result, the Gothic architectural style of the western church came to areas that today belong to Lithuania, Belarus and the Ukraine. The most important Gothic buildings in what was then East Poland-Lithuania include the Lviv Cathedral , the Lviv Cathedral of the Polish Armenians (mixture of Western Gothic and Armenian architecture), the Anna Church in Vilnius , the St. Francis Church in Vilnius , the Gediminas Tower in Vilnius , and the Trakai Castle , the Kaunas Castle , the Grodno Castle , the castle Lida , the castle Mir and the castle Lutsk .

Renaissance Wawel Palace courtyard


The golden age of Poland began in the late Gothic and extended through the Renaissance and Mannerism to the early Baroque . The most important buildings in Poland date from this period (1350–1650), above all the royal Wawel Castle in Krakow. From 1498, Crown Prince Sigismund I stayed with his brother Ladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary at the Hungarian royal court, where he met several Florentine artists and architects under the direction of Francesco Fiorentino and brought them to Krakow, around the 1499-style royal castle on the Wawel to rebuild the Italian Renaissance. Francesco Fiorentino started building the arcaded courtyard of the Wawel Castle. In addition to Francesco Fiorentino, Benedict from Sandomir and, after Francesco Fiorentino's death, Bartolommeo Berrecci , Giovanni Battista Veneziani and Giovanni Cini from Siena also took part in the reconstruction. Bartolommeo Berrecci and Bernardino Zanobi de Gianotis also added the Sigismund Chapel to the Wawel Cathedral , which is considered the most important building of the Florentine High Renaissance outside of Italy. Other important Renaissance architects from Italy and Ticino, who worked in Poland-Lithuania, are Bernardo Monti , Giovanni Quadro , Giovanni Maria Mosca and Mateo Gucci , who adapted the Italian Renaissance to the climatic conditions of Central Europe and thus created their own Polish Renaissance style, which, however , came closest to the Florentine Renaissance with its popular arcades . The center of the Renaissance was southern Poland, especially the Lesser Poland region around Krakow and the areas around Lviv . In Krakow in particular, you can recognize the typical Polish Renaissance architecture from the Polish attic .

The Wawel Royal Castle with its Renaissance arcade courtyard and the Sigismund Chapel became the model for numerous new buildings throughout the Jagiellonian Empire and were rebuilt hundreds of times by the royal court and the nobles throughout Poland-Lithuania and Silesia . One of the most important Renaissance castles include the United Princely Palace Vilnius , the Wawel Royal Castle , the Royal Castle Niepołomice , the Royal Castle Sanok , the Royal Castle Poznan , the Royal Castle Podhorce that Baranów Sandomierski Castle , the Nowy Sacz Castle , the Pińczów Castle , the palace Łańcut , the Castle Uniejów , the Janowiec Castle , the Castle Krzyżtopór , the Pieskowa Skala Castle , the Iłża Castle , the Ogrodzieniec Castle , the Ujazdów Castle , the Bishop's Palace Kielce , the Lemberger royal family , the castle Konstantynów which Międzyrzecz Ostrogski Castle , the castle Nesvizh , the Mir Castle and fortress Kamieniec Podolski . Many of these structures only survived the Swedish wars in the 17th century as ruins.

In contrast to the Gothic, only a few churches were built in the Renaissance style, to which secular architecture was more dedicated. The most important religious building of the High Renaissance was the Cathedral of Płock , which was rebuilt in the Renaissance style around 1530 by Bernardino Zanobi de Gianotis , Giovanni Cini and Filippo Fiesole . Other preserved Renaissance churches in Poland-Lithuania are the Pułtusker Marienbasilika , the Lviv Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary , the Lviv Church of All Saints , the Brochów Fortified Church and the Broker Andreas Church as well as the Lviv Golden Rose Synagogue . However, numerous Renaissance chapels based on the model of the Sigismund Chapel were built on Gothic churches, including for the other chapels of the Wawel Cathedral such as the Vasa Chapel , the Załuski Chapel, the Tomicki Chapel , the Johann I Chapel , the Myszkowski chapel , the Potocki chapel and the Zadzika chapel , the Maciejowski chapel and the Hyacinth chapel of Cracow Dominican church , the Anna chapel in Pińczów that Krasiczyn chapel at the castle Krasiczyn, the Anthony chapel of Przeworskier Bernardine Church , the Casimir Chapel of the Vilnius Stanislaus Cathedral and the Boim Chapel and the Kampianów Chapel in the Lviv St. Mary's Cathedral .

At the same time, at the transition between late Gothic and Renaissance, bourgeois architecture developed in the cities in Poland-Lithuania , including many town halls, town houses of the patriciate and buildings of other public institutions such as the Cracow Cloth Hall , the Collegium Iuridicum and the Collegium Nowodworski of the Cracow Academy , Kazimierz City Hall , Poznan City Hall , Tarnów City Hall , Sandomir City Hall , in Krakow the Villa Decius , the Erasmus Ciołek Bishop's Palace , the Bishop Florian House , the Dziekański House , the Górków House , the Długosz- House , the Maciejowski House and the Boner House , in Poznan the Górków Palace , in Warsaw the Barbican , the Baryczkowska House and the Falkiewiczowska House , in Gdansk the Ferber House and in Vilnius the Gate of Dawn , which in Renaissance style either have been converted or rebuilt. Numerous secular buildings in the Renaissance style were also erected in Silesia, which was part of Bohemia during the Renaissance, including the Laubaner Town Hall , Ottmachau Town Hall , Patschkauer Town Hall , Wünschelburg Town Hall , Löwenberg Town Hall, and Frankenstein Castle and Plagwitz Castle . In Pomerania, the Szczecin Palace was built in Renaissance style by the griffins .

During the Renaissance, numerous palace gardens were laid out in Poland-Lithuania , most of which have not been preserved or were later converted into baroque gardens. Queen Bona Sforza and King Sigusmund I the Elder laid out the first Renaissance garden in front of the east wing of Wawel Castle in the 1530s . The Royal Gardens on the Wawel were later rebuilt in the Baroque style, but were neglected in the centuries that followed. They were finally destroyed in the Second World War, when the Governor General Hans Frank , who resided on the Wawel, had a swimming pool and tennis courts built in their place. The royal gardens were reconstructed from the 1990s and have been open to the public again since 2005. In contrast, the Renaissance gardens of the Pieskowa Skała Castle have largely been preserved in their original form . The Renaissance gardens of Schloss Fürstenstein, on the other hand, are also a reconstruction from the 21st century.

Mannerist Great Armory


In the architectural history of Poland-Lithuania, the second half of the 16th century can be divided into four regional centers with different styles. Krakow and its surroundings remained largely true to the Florentine High Renaissance and adapted Italian Mannerism into the new buildings. The most important representative of South Polish Mannerism in architecture was the Florentine native Santi Gucci . In addition are the southern Polish Manierismusarchitekten the Poles Gabriel Słoński , Szymon Sarocki , Michał Hintz , Tomasz Nikiel and January Michałowicz , the Italians Paolo Romano , Antonio Pellaccini , Niccolò Castiglione , Galeazzo Appiani , Antoneo de Ralia , Giovanni Maria Bernardoni and Pietro di Barbone and the Dutch Job Praÿetfuess and Paul Baudarth should be mentioned. Northern Poland and especially Danzig began to orientate themselves on the Dutch-Flemish style of Mannerism and brought its architects mainly from the Netherlands. These included Hans Vredeman de Vries , Anton van Obberghen , Hans Kramer , Willem van den Blocke , Abraham van den Blocke and Hans Strackwitz . The area around Lublin developed its own style from the mixture of Italian and Dutch style elements from the Lublin Renaissance , which radiated far into the Polish-Lithuanian east. Mainly Italian and Polish architects such as Bernardo Morando , Andrea dell'Aqua , Jan Jaroszewicz and Jan Wolff were active here. King Sigismung III. Vasa , on the other hand, was a supporter of the Counter-Reformation and the Jesuits and brought the early Baroque to Poland-Lithuania in the last two decades of the 16th century, first to Krakow and Lithuania and later mainly to the new seat of the royal court in Warsaw. Mostly architects from Ticino worked for him.

Many Renaissance castles in southern Poland, as the Castle Baranów Sandomierski , the castle Krasiczyn , the Pinczów Castle , the Zywiec Castle or the Bishop's Palace Kielce , which were completed only in the second half of the 16th century, received a mannerist line, for the often Santi Gucci was responsible. On the Wawel, the Vasa Gate and the Berecci Gate date back to Mannerism. Examples of bourgeois Mannerist architecture in southern Poland are the Beitsch town hall , patrician houses on the market square in Tarnów , the Jarosławer Orsetti house and in Kraków the Branicki house , the dean house and the prelate house and the Collegium Gostomianum in Sandomierz . For religious mannerist architecture in southern Poland, the Krakow include synagogues Remuh Synagogue , the Popper Synagogue and the High Synagogue and the Lesko synagogue , Tykociner Great Synagogue and the monastery Kalwaria-Zebrzydowska with the St. Mary's Church and the chapels of the Calvary, of which the ECCO The Homo Chapel, the Crucifixion Chapel and the Heart Mary Chapel have clear mannerist features.

The center of Mannerism in northern Poland was Gdansk, where in the Manneric style the Old Town Hall , the Right Town Hall , the Great Armory , the Artus Court , the High Gate , the Green Gate , the Golden Gate , the Golden House , the English House , the Ferber House , the Löwenschloss , the Schumannhaus , the Köpehaus , the Drei-Prediger-Haus , the Schlüterhaus were newly built or rebuilt. The Kulm Town Hall , the Bydgoszcz Poor Clare Church , the Marienkapelle at the Włocławek St. Mary's Cathedral , the granary and town houses on the Neustädter Marktplatz in Torun were also rebuilt in Mannerist style. In Pomerania, apart from the Pomeranian Dukes Castle and the Stolpe Castle , Castle Krag , Castle Pansin and tuczno castle received, which were also rebuilt in mannerism.

As a union of Italian and Dutch stylistic elements, the architectural style of the Lublin Renaissance emerged in the area around Lublin. In this style, entire ideal cities, such as Zamość by Jan Zamoyski or Żółkiew by Stanisław Żółkiewski , were rebuilt or completely rebuilt, like Kazimierz Dolny . Among the most important surviving monuments of the Lublin Renaissance include in Lublin Joseph Church , the Dominican Church with the Ossoliński Chapel , the Konopnica house and Chociszewski-house , as well as in Zamosc, the town hall , the Thomas Cathedral , the Synagogue and the Janowiec Castle . Further examples of architectural monuments of the Lublin Renaissance are the Orzechowski Castle , the Janowiecer Margaretenkirche , the Gołąber Marienkirche and the Gołąber Loreto House . Other Mannerist buildings in central Poland that are not directly part of the Lublin Renaissance are the Landsberg Hedwig's Church , the Krasner Holy Cross Church , the Szydłowiec Town Hall , the Ridt House in Poznan , the Szydłowiec Castle , the Carolath Castle and the Grudziński Castle in Poddębice .

Mannerism also moved into the up-and-coming capital of Mazovia, Warsaw , where the Jesuit Church , the Mohren House , the Baryczka House , the Chociszewski House , the Salvator House , the Holy Anna House and the houses on Kanonia Square originated.

Bohemian Silesia was also rich in mannerist castles, churches and civil architecture. However, since Silesia as part of Bohemia was badly affected during the Thirty Years' War , only relatively few architectural monuments from the Mannerist period have survived. These include the Krieblowitz Castle , the Oels Castle , the Piast Castle Ohlau , the Mannerist Castle Grodno as well as the Wroclaw House under the Griffins in Lower Silesia and the Falkenberg Castle , the Piast Castle Brieg , the Brieger Town Hall and the Neißer Kammerei building in Upper Silesia.


The Polish-Lithuanian baroque can be divided into three phases, the early baroque under the Vasa dynasty in the first half of the 17th century, the mature baroque under Michael I and John III. Sobieski in the second half of the century and the late baroque, which under the Wettins passed into the rococo in the first half of the 18th century, in Lithuania, on the other hand, led to the Vilna Baroque . Major architects who were active in Poland-Lithuania during the Baroque period also came for the most part from Italy and Ticino, Switzerland. They include Carlo Antonio Bay , Kacper Bażanka , Giovanni Maria Bernardoni , Giuseppe Brizio , Matteo Castelli , Giovanni Catenazzi , Giovanni Battista Gisleni , Giacomo Fontana , Johann Georg Knoll , Johann Christoph Glaubitz , Johann Christoph Knöffel , Augustyn Wincenty Locci , Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann , Ephraim Schröger , Constantino Tencalla and Jan Zaor . However, the most important Polish baroque architect, Tylman van Gameren , who designed hundreds of castles across Poland, came from the Netherlands.

Early Baroque developed in Poland, while Mannerism was still predominant, in the second half of the 16th century. Sigismund III. Vasa brought the Ticino architects Giovanni Trevano, Matteo Castelli and Tommaso Poncino to the Polish-Lithuanian royal court, which had moved from Krakow to Warsaw at the end of the 16th century. Thus, alongside Krakow, Warsaw became the center of the Polish-Lithuanian early baroque, while Mannerism continued to dominate in the north and east of the aristocratic republic. The first sacred buildings in the early Baroque style were often associated with the Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation. They include the Vasa Chapel at the Wawel Cathedral and the Casimir Chapel at the Stanislaus Cathedral in Vilnius , the Jesuit Church in Krakow , the Camaldolese Church in Krakow , the Martins Church in Krakow and the Heiligelinde Monastery . The prophane monuments of the early Baroque include the north wing of Wawel Castle, which was rebuilt after a fire at the end of the 16th century (Hall under the Birds and Senatorial Staircase), the Warsaw Royal Castle , the Warsaw Kazanowski Palace and the Ujazdów Palace . The town hall of Lissa belongs to the early baroque bourgeois architecture .

Baroque Wilanów Palace

During the mature baroque period, the new capital, Warsaw, emerged as the focus, where Tylman van Gameren was particularly active. Significant religious buildings of the High Baroque are the Warsaw Kasimirkirche , Krakow Anna 's Church , Krakow Thomaskirche , the Krakow Capuchin Church , the Krakow Mary Conception Church , the Krakow Agnes Church , Krakow Theresa Church , the Vilnius Peter and Paul Church , the Grodner Jesuit Church , the Poznan Jesuit Church , the Woźniki Monastery , the Czestochowa Monastery , the Gdańsk Royal Chapel , the Lublin St. John's Cathedral , the Warsaw Capuchin Church , the Czerniaków Antonius Church and the Warsaw Antonius Church . Large Versailles-style palaces emerged in and around Warsaw, such as the Wilanów Palace , the Koniecpolski Palace , the Czapski Palace , the Pac Palace , the Marymont Palace , the Ossoliński Palace , the Primate Palace , the Krasiński Palace , Ostrogski Castle , the Iron Gate or the Marywil Trade Center , as well as in and around Mazovia , such as the Puławer Czartoryski Palace , the Otwocker Palace , the Nieborów Palace , and in eastern Poland , such as the Białystoker Branicki Palace , the Łańcut Castle , the Rzeszów Castle or the Ostrometzko Castle . In Wejherowo donated Jakub Wejher the Kashubian Calvary . The turtle house , the salmon house , the house at Langen Markt 20 and the Czirenberg house were built in Danzig .

The late baroque developed parallel to the rococo. While the rococo was already dominant in Warsaw, the Vilna School of Baroque, also known as the Vilna Baroque , developed in the east of Poland-Lithuania , whose main representative was Johann Christoph Glaubitz. The most important works of the Vilna Baroque count in Vilnius and around the Augustianerkirche , heiliggeistkirche , Jesuit church , the monastery Pažaislis that Berezweczer Basilian and Połocker Sophia Church . To the late Baroque religious buildings also counts Lviv Dominican Church , the Lviv St. George's Cathedral , the Cistercian monastery Wągrowiec that Ląd Abbey and the Krakauer Pauline monastery . The late Baroque secular buildings in Poland-Lithuania include the Saxon Palace , the Sapieha Palace , the Bishop's Palace , the Palace under the Tin Roof , the Palais Kotowski , the Blank Palace , the Palais Sanguszko , the Małachowski Palace , the Symonowicz Palace and the Blue Palace and in eastern Poland the Puławyer Czartoryski Palace , the Rydzyna Palace and the Krystynopol Potocki Palace . The Białystok City Hall and the Mław City Hall are part of the late Baroque civil architecture . The wooden church of St. Michael in Szalowa was also built in the late baroque period .

In the then Bohemian Silesia, after the devastation of the Thirty Years' War, building activity developed in the Baroque era. The city ​​palace , the Archbishop's Palace , the Name Jesus Church , the Antonius Church , the Klarakirche , the Kyrill-und-Method-Kirche , the Hofkirche , the Dreifaltigkeitskirche , the Matthias Church have been preserved or rebuilt after the Second World War -Gymnasium ( Ossolineum ) and the monastery of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star . From the Palais Hatzfeld only the entrance portal is preserved. Other important baroque monuments are distributed all over Silesia: the Basilica of the Visitation of Mary in Bardo , the Basilica of Mary in Grüssau , the Church of St. Mary in Leubus , the Paradies Monastery , the Kamenz Monastery , the Benedictine Monastery of Liegnitz , the Liegnitz Church of St. John , the Albendorf pilgrimage basilica , the Skull chapel Tscherbeney that Seitscher Martin Church , the Wohlau Charles Church , which Brieger exaltation Church , the Neißer Peter and Paul Church , the Bielsko Gottesvorsehungskirche , the Cieszyn Jesus Church , which Ottmachauer Nicholas Church , the Jawor Church of peace , which Schweidnitzer peace Church , the Sprott Auer Hall , the Bunzlauer Town Hall , the Hirschberg Town Hall , the Liegnitz Old Town Hall , the Glatzer Jesuit College , the Wallenstein Castle Sagan , the Mittelwalde Castle , the Annaberg Castle , the Lessendorf Castle and the Buchenhöh Castle . The Hirschberg Valley has a particularly high density of mansions, castles and palaces . Also Książ was expanded in the Baroque.

During the Thirty Years' War the Pomeranian dynasty of the Griffins died out, and Pomerania was part of Sweden during the High and Late Baroque periods. In contrast to Silesia, relatively few baroque architectural monuments have been preserved in Pomerania or have been rebuilt after the Second World War. These include the State House , the King's Gate and the Berlin Gate in Stettin , the Rügenwalder Town Hall , the Stargarder Hauptwache and Manteuffel Castle .

During the Baroque period, numerous gardens and parks were laid out in Poland-Lithuania, including the Warsaw Royal Castle Garden , the Saxon Garden , the Krasiński Garden , the Lazienki Park , the Ujazdowski Park , the Lubomirski Garden , the Raczyński Garden and the Branicki garden .

Krakow Piarist Church in Rococo style


The late baroque and rococo periods are characterized by the time of the Saxon kings, especially the reign of the second Saxon king August III. Both Saxon kings brought their architects and artists working in Dresden to the royal court in Warsaw, where the new style was quickly adopted. The Frenchman Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier , who was born in Turin and worked in the Puławyer Czartoryski Palace and later in Warsaw , is considered to be the first architect to build in the rococo style in Poland-Lithuania . The most important architect of the Polish Rococo, however, was, as had been the case since the Renaissance, an Italian - the Roman-born Francesco Placidi . The other most important Rococo architects who worked in Poland-Lithuania include Jan de Witte , Joachim Daniel Jauch , Johann Friedrich Knöbel , Bernhard Meretyn , Giacomo Fontana , Ricaud de Tirregaille , Tomasz Rezler and Johann Sigmund Deybel von Hammerau . Most of the Rococo buildings were built in Warsaw, but were not preserved due to the destruction of the Second World War and were only occasionally reconstructed due to the great effort involved. The reconstruction of the west side of the former Sachsen-Platz with the Sächsisches Palais , the Brühlschen Palais and the town houses on the corner of the Platz to the Königsstraße has been discussed since 2005.

The most important preserved buildings, which were newly built or rebuilt in the style of the Polish-Lithuanian Rococo, include sacred buildings such as the Warsaw Visitantinnen Church , Warsaw Anna Church , Warsaw Holy Cross Church , Lviv St. George's Cathedral and the Virgin Mary Pochayiv Monastery of Sleeping , the Chełmer Apostle Church and the Kraków Piarist Church . The wooden church of St. Stephen in Mnichów is considered to be the only surviving Rococo wooden church.

The most important surviving buildings, which were newly built or rebuilt in the Polish-Lithuanian Rococo style, include secular buildings such as the Abbot 's Palace in Oliva , the Bishop's Palace Ciążeń , the Tscherwonohrad Potocki Palace , the Butschach Town Hall , the Krakow Margrave House , the Warsaw John House , the Warsaw Abramowicz Palace , the Warsaw Borch Palace , the Warsaw Branicki Palace on Honey Street , the Warsaw Prażmowski Palace , the Młociner Brühl Palace , the Warsaw Chodkiewicz Palace , the Warsaw Dembiński Palace , the Warsaw Stroński -Palais , Warsaw Przebendowski Palace , Warsaw Humanski Palace , Warsaw Jabłonowski Palace , Warsaw Wessel Palace , Warsaw Szaniawski Palace , Warsaw Chodkiewicz Palace on Kirchgasse , Warsaw Collegium Nobilium , Warsaw Potocki Palace , Warsaw Palace on the Four Winds , Warsaw Mokronowski Palace , Warsaw Sangus Palace zko , Warsaw Zamoyski Palace on the New World , Warsaw Młodziejowski Palace , Warsaw Radziwiłłowa Palace , Warsaw Potkański Palace , Warsaw Karaś Palace , Warsaw Tepper Palace, and Warsaw Lelewel Palace (the last three not rebuilt after the Second World War), the Lviv Lubomirski Palace , the Kotuliński Palace in Czechowice-Dziedzice and the orangery of the Potocki Palace in Radzyń Podlaski .

In Silesia mainly Marian columns have survived from the Habsburg Rococo period, such as the Leobschütz Marian Column , the Ratibor Marian Column , the Hirschberg Marian Column (already has classicist features), the Glatzer Marian Column and Oberglogauer Marian Column (both transition from Baroque to Rococo).

Classicist Belvedere


During the years of the reign of the last Polish-Lithuanian king Stanislaus II August Poniatowski , the epoch of classicism began ; in Poland-Lithuania , early classicism is therefore also known as the Stanislaus style. After the Third Partition of Poland and the abdication of Stanislaus II August Poniatowski in 1795, classicism survived the Napoleonic period until the time of Congress Poland before the November uprising . The center of Classicism was again Warsaw and again it was Italian architects who shaped the architecture of Poland-Lithuania in this cultural epoch, above all Domenico Merlini and Carlo Spampani under Stanislaus II August Poniatowski and Antonio Carozzi in Congress Poland in the early 19th century. Other important architects of classicism in Poland-Lithuania were Chrystian Piotr Aigner , Laurynas Gucevičius , Johann Christian Kamsetzer , Ephraim Schröger , Wilhelm Heinrich Minter , Stanisław Zawadzki , Jakub Kubicki and Simon Gottlieb Zug .

The most ambitious construction project of Stanislaus II August Poniatowski was the expansion of the castles and palaces in the Warsaw Royal Park of Baths "Łazienki Królewskie" . To this end, he had Domenico Merlini and Johann Christian Kamsetzer rebuild the Lubomirski bathing palace in Ujazdów near Warsaw into the palace on the water . The Hermitage , the White House , the hunting lodge , the water tower , the Neue Wache and the Old Orangery in Łazienki Park, as well as the Alte Wache and the amphitheater, go to Domenico Merlini . The officers' school and barracks for the disabled in Łazienki-Park goes back to Wilhelm Heinrich Minter. Jakub Kubicki built the Belvedere , the Kubicki steel and the first project of the Temple of Divine Providence in the park . The New Orangery was designed by Adolf Loewe and Józef Orłowski and the Narutowicz House by Andrzej Gołoński . Other well-known romantic parks besides the Łazienki Park were laid out in Puławy , Arkadia and Radziejowice in the 18th century .

Other examples of the Stanislaus style are the Parliament Hall at the Warsaw Royal Castle , the Jabłonna Potocki Palace , the Warsaw Królikarnia Palace , the Natoliner Potocki Palace, the Warsaw Orthodox Church of St. Mary , the Warsaw Carmelite Church , the Warsaw Dziekana Palace , the Warsaw Borch- Palace , the Warsaw Raczyński Palace , the Warsaw Tyszkiewicz Palace , the Dorothea Church in Petrykozy , the courtyard buildings of the Warsaw Czapski Palace , the Warsaw Trinity Church , the Arkadia Garden , and the Church of St. Mary in Kock as well as the Burggassentor in Lublin .

In the style of late classicism, the then largest theater building in the world was built in Warsaw by Antonio Corazzi , who created in the style of Palladianism . In addition there were the buildings of the Old Warsaw Stock Exchange , the Polish Bank , the Leszczyński Palace , the Ursynówer Krasiński Palace , the Hołowczyc Palace , the Staszic Palace , the Lubomirski Palace , the Uruski Palace , the Mostowski Palace , the Palais Śleszyński , the Palais to the artichoke , the Warsaw Arsenal , the house under the columns , the Warsaw Astronomical Observatory and the Warsaw Alexander Church . Late classicist monuments include the Warsaw Citadel , the Warsaw Old Synagogue and the Warsaw Hospital Synagogue (the latter two destroyed in World War II). The Radom Sandomierski Palace also goes back to Antonio Corazzi .

Significant classical monuments outside Warsaw are the Opole Old Post House , the Wroclaw Eleven Thousand Virgins Church and the Wroclaw Old Stock Exchange , the Reichenbacher Maria Mother of the Church Church , the Poremba Princely Pheasantry , the Płock Small Synagogue and the Pawlowitz Mielżyński -Palast that Czestochowa New synagogue , the Zegrzer Radziwill Palace , the Dyhernfurth Castle , the Castle Juditten , the United Wartenberger Evangelical Church , the Krippitzer synagogue that Orlaer synagogue that Prasch Kauer synagogue that Siemiatyczer synagogue , the Kempen synagogue that Włodawaer Great Synagogue , the Vilnius Bishop's Palace and the Vilnius City Hall .

Neo-Gothic Kamenz Castle


Historicism began in Poland-Lithuania, which was already divided between Prussia, Russia and Austria, at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, when classicism was still going strong. The neo-Gothic Gothic house in the romantic Puławy Park by the classicist architect Chrystian Piotr Aigner from the first decade of the 19th century is considered to be the first building of historicism . The centers of Polish architecture in the 19th century were in Congress Poland Warsaw and Łódź , where many town houses and castles were built in the style of historicism , in Galicia Krakow and Lemberg, and Poznan and Bydgoszcz in Prussia.

Neo-Gothic became the first style of historicism after the Napoleonic wars . It developed in the second half of the 19th century into the so-called Vistula-Baltic Sea style , which was linked to the brick Gothic style of Krakow and northern Poland. Important representatives of this architectural style were Józef Pius Dziekoński , Enrico Marconi and Alexis Langer . Among the important buildings of the Gothic Revival in Poland include the Dowspudaer Pac Palace (only entrance condition), the Kórnik Castle , the Castle Kamenz , the Wrocław Main Railway Station , the train station New Skalmierschütz , the House of the Warsaw Rowing Society , the Krzeszowicer Martin Church of Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the Church of the Redeemer in Poznan . Examples of the Vistula-Baltic Sea style are the Warsaw St. Michael's Basilica , the Krakow St. Joseph's Church and the Żyrardów St. Mary's Church .

National Neo-Romanesque Museum

The neo-Romanesque prevailed later than the neo-Gothic. It played a subordinate role compared to the latter and only really prevailed in the Prussian part of the country. Among the most important monuments of romanesque in Poland include in particular the Poznan Imperial Castle , the Castle Juditten , the Gdansk Academic High School , the crypt deserved Poland on the Skałkahügel that Warsaw Nożyk Synagogue , the Buker synagogue and the no longer extant Silesian synagogues in Gliwice , Myslowitz , Cosel , Kreuzburg and Ratibor that Ostrower Stanislauskonkathedrale that Breslauer Augustine Church , the Beuthener Barbara Church that Zakopane Holy family , the Warsaw Catherine's , the Neusalzer Anthony Church , the peace Hütter Paul Church , the Opole Peter and Paul Church , the Thorner Trinity Church , the Wszembórzer Nikolauskirche , the Zabrzer Anna Church , the Breslau municipal indoor swimming pool , the Nimptscher town hall and the Szczecin National Museum .

The neo-renaissance began in Poland at the same time as the neo-Romanesque, but did not reach its peak until the second half of the 19th century. The leading neo-Renaissance architect in Congress Poland was the native Italian Enrico Marconi . In the new style he created the Warsaw Vienna train station , the Warsaw Karlskirche , the Wilanów Anna Church , the Warsaw All Saints Church and the Warsaw Europahotel . As further examples of Neo-Renaissance in Poland are Uruski Palace , the Thorner Artus Court , the Neudeck Castle , the Breslauer Kornów Palace , the Krakow Puget Palace . A modification of the Neo-Renaissance was the arcade style , in which the Katowice Church of the Resurrection , the Drohobych Choral Synagogue and the Warsaw Hotel Bristol were built. Łódź is particularly rich in neo-renaissance architecture, and here in particular Petrikauer Straße , for example with the Maurycy Poznański Palace , the home of the municipal credit institution .

The neo-baroque followed the neo-renaissance in the second half of the 19th century. Stefan Szyller , who initially built in the neo-renaissance style, was probably the best-known representative of neo-baroque in Poland. His best-known building in this style is the Zachęta Gallery in the center of Warsaw, although some of it is already classified as eclectic. In Bydgoszcz , on the other hand, Józef Święcicki worked, who designed numerous tenement houses in the Neo-Baroque style, such as the Adlerhotel , the Święcicki House , the Hecht House , the Wolności House . Other important examples of the neo-baroque in Poland are the pszczyna castle , the castle Kochcice that Smolice Castle , the Warsaw Kronenberg Palace (in World War II burned so far not established and again), the Warsaw Leszczyński Palace , the Breslauer country house , the Görlitz Kulturhaus and the Bad Landecker Adalbert Sanatorium .

As the last style of historicism, eclecticism came to Poland in the last quarter of the 19th century, which was characterized by the mixing of other architectural styles of historicism. The most famous building of eclecticism in Poland is the Kraków Słowacki Theater . The Bielsko Polish Theater , the Teschen Mickiewicz Theater , the Łódź Izraela-Poznański Palace , the Bielitzer Castle , the Bielsko Central Station , the New Sandez Town Hall , the Bad Landeck Town Hall , the Jaroslau Town Hall , the Lublin Grand Hotel Lublinianka are in the same style , the Augustów Sacred Heart Basilica , the Warsaw Church of the Redeemer , the main building of the Warsaw University of Technology , the Warsaw Philharmonic (destroyed in World War II and no longer built true to the original), the Warsaw Foksal House , the Warsaw Summer Theater (destroyed in World War II and not yet rebuilt), the Łódź Ladnau House , the Ernst Leonhardt Villa , the Juliusz Heinzl Palace and the Kraków KOMK Bank were built.

Young Poland

The Art Nouveau came relatively early in the Polish division of areas, but evolved in different parts of the country depending on the political affiliation with Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary very different. A separate variety of the Vienna Secession , called Young Poland , developed in Galicia , especially in Krakow. Important representatives of the secession were Franciszek Chełmiński , Dawid Lande , Franciszek Mączyński , Franciszek Ruszyc and Gustaw Landau-Gutenteger . In the mountainous region of Podhale , Stanisław Witkiewicz developed the Zakopane style around 1890 . Other important centers of Art Nouveau were Łódź , Warsaw , Bydgoszcz , Bielsko-Biała and Upper Silesia.

Important examples of secession in Poland are the Oppolner Ceresbrunnen that Bielsko Frog House , the Hirschberger Norwid Theater , the Cracow Sacred Heart Church , the Cracow house under the globe , the Cracow house under the spider , the Krakow Michalik cave , the Palais Nowik , the indoor swimming pool in Wroclaw , the Wroclaw trading house Barasch , the Wroclaw Hotel Monopol , the Wroclaw Market Hall , the Technical University of Wroclaw , the Wroclaw Water Tower , the Warsaw Hotel Rialto and the Warsaw Hotel Savoy .

presidential castle

Interwar period

One of the most important Polish architects of the interwar period was Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz , who among other things built the Presidential Palace in Wisła. The First World War brought much destruction to southern Poland. Many public buildings have been rebuilt or rebuilt in Art Deco style, functionalism and modernism . These include, for example, the new Sejm building , the Warsaw Prudential skyscraper , the Warsaw house without corners , the main building of the Warsaw School of Economics , the building of the Polish securities printing plant , the Warsaw building of the telecommunications office , the Służewiec racecourse , the Wroclaw department store Wertheim , the National museums in Warsaw and Krakow , the Jagiellonian Library , the Zabrzer Josephskirche , the Breslau Gustav-Adolf-Kirche , the Breslau department store Rudolf Petersdorff , the Szczecin Holy Family Church , the Gdynia Maritime Academy , the Katowice Skyscraper or the Katowice Christ the King Cathedral . The Wroclaw Centennial Hall is an important building of modernism that was built before the First World War .

Reconstructed Warsaw Old Town

Socialist classicism

The Second World War brought about the greatest destruction of the Polish building fabric to date. Warsaw was systematically destroyed, the monuments in eastern Poland came to the Soviet Union and all larger cities in Poland except Krakow were severely damaged by acts of war. Reconstruction in the post-war period was received in an exemplary manner - the Polish restorers are world-famous - but cannot be completed in the foreseeable future. The Old and New Towns of Warsaw and the Mariensztat Vistula District were rebuilt in the 1970s and the Royal Castle in the 1980s. The UNESCO paid tribute to the leadership of the Polish restorers with the inclusion of the rebuilt Old Town in the World Heritage Site in 1980. The buildings of the 19th century in the center of the Marszałkowska Street , the Jerozolimskie Avenue and Świętokrzyska Street but seem lost forever. In their place, monumental buildings in the style of social realism were built, above all the Palace of Culture , the Warsaw Constitution Square and the model district MDM . Most of the old towns in Wroclaw, Gdansk, Stettin and Posen were rebuilt true to the original. In contrast, Krakow, Łódź and Lublin survived the Second World War relatively unscathed, as did the cities of Lemberg and Vilnius, which now belonged to the Soviet Union after Poland was shifted to the west.

Other important buildings of social realism in Poland are the Białystok party building , the Königshütte Silesian Planetarium , the Dombrowa Brazier Palace of Culture , Gdynia Central Station , the main building of the Scientific and Technical University of Krakow , the Krakow district of Nowa Huta with the central square , the avenue of roses and the Kino Światowid , the Łódź Great Theater , the Rzeszów Court of Appeal , the Rzeszów Music Institute , the Warsaw Ministry of Finance , the Warsaw Grand Hotel and the Russian Embassy in Warsaw . During the People's Republic, in addition to the Palace of Culture, other skyscrapers were built in downtown Warsaw, such as the high-rise buildings on the east wall , the Novotel Warszawa Centrum , the Intraco I , the Centrum LIM and the Oxford Tower .

Postmodern Museum Polin

Contemporary architecture

The reconstruction after the destruction of the Second World War continued after the end of the People's Republic, even if not as true to the original as in the 1940s and 1950s. Some palaces were rebuilt in the 1990s, such as the Jabłonowski Palace . However, only the facade was built true to the original, while a modern office building was created inside. The reconstruction of the Saxon and Brühl palaces and the rebuilding of the gardens of the royal palace are to begin soon .

A building boom began in the 1990s with skyscrapers designed by well-known architects such as the Englishman Norman Foster and the American of Polish origin Daniel Libeskind . In particular, the western city center along Johannes-Paul-II.-Allee and the Wola district to the west are surrounded by modern architecture. The most interesting new buildings include the Warsaw Spire , Warsaw Trade Tower , Q22 , Rondo 1-B , Złota 44 , Warsaw Financial Center , InterContinental , Cosmopolitan Twarda 2/4 , TP SA Tower , Blue Tower Plaza , the ORCO Tower , the Millennium Plaza , the Golden Terraces , the Ilmet , the PZU Tower , the Hotel The Westin Warsaw and the Plac Unii . Other skyscrapers are in Katowice (including the Altus ), Krakow (including the K1 and the currently rebuilt Unity Tower ) in Wroclaw (including the Sky Tower ), in Poznan (including the Andersia Tower and the Poznań Financial Center ) in the Tricity of Danzig-Gdynia-Sopot (including the Sea Towers and the Neptun ) and in Stettin (including the Pazim ). Also noteworthy are Norman Foster's Warsaw Metropolitan , the Warsaw Świętokrzyski Bridge , the Warsaw Siekierkowski Bridge , the converted and extended building of the Warsaw Uprising Museum , the building of the Warsaw Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN , the Krakow building of the museum of Japanese Art and Technology Manggha , the Warsaw Copernicus Science Center and the building of the Gdańsk Museum of World War II and the building of the Gdańsk European Solidarność Center .

The new sacred buildings include the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw, the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and St. John Paul II Church in Kraków, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń in Licheń Stary.

In addition to the Varso Tower , the tallest building in the European Union after completion , the Nowa Emilia , the Spinnaker , the Skyliner , the Port Praski , the Mennica Legacy Tower , the Spark , the Warsaw Hub , the B4 Office Center , the J44 , the Unique Tower , the Aura Sky and Chmielna 89 .


The history of Polish film goes back to the years 1894–1896, when Kazimierz Prószyński invented the pleograph , with which he filmed small scenes from everyday life in Warsaw . The Ślizgawka w Łazienkach scene with ice skaters in Warsaw's Łazienki Park is the first known Polish film recording . The cameraman Bolesław Matuszewski made small documentaries for the French company of the Lumière brothers . Other well-known filmmakers in the early days were Antoni Fertner and Pola Negri . In the interwar period, Ryszard Ordyński , Adolf Dymsza , Jan Kiepura , Wanda Jakubowska and Eugeniusz Bodo produced .

In mainland also were Leonard Buczkowski , Andrzej Munk , Tadeusz Konwicki , Jerzy Kawalerowicz , Wojciech Has , Roman Polanski , Marek Piwowski , Andrzej Wajda , Krzysztof Kieslowski , Stanislaw Bareja , Kazimierz Karabasz , Krzysztof Zanussi , Juliusz Machulski , Kazimierz Kutz , Agnieszka Holland , Aleksander Ford , Jerzy Toeplitz , Walerian Borowczyk , Jan Lenica , Ryszard Bugajski , Filip Bajon , Jerzy Hoffman , Stefan Themerson and Andrzej Żuławski . The Polish Film School was founded in Łódź . The Polish Film Festival has been held in Gdynia since the 1970s . The current Polish film with directors like Władysław Pasikowski , Krzysztof Krauze , Sławomir Fabicki , Robert Gliński , Marek Koterski , Feliks Falk , Piotr Trzaskalski and Jan Komasa is recognized worldwide. The Polish Film Prize has been awarded since 1999 .


The Polish media landscape is highly polarized, with media companies that represent an economic and value-liberal line, and publishers and other media companies that advocate the expansion of the welfare state and conservative values. It is striking that the liberal media companies are mainly held by foreign shareholders, while the socially conservative publishers are primarily financed by Polish capital. For example , the American George Soros has a stake in Agora SA , the publisher of the left-liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza and numerous radio stations such as Tok FM , through his foundations . The German and German-Swiss publishers Ringier Axel Springer Media , the publishing group Passau and the Bauer Media Group publish the likewise liberal print media Fakt , Newsweek Polska and almost all regional newspapers and own numerous internet portals such as Onet.pl and Interia.pl as well as radio stations like RMF FM . The shareholder Grupa TVN of the liberal broadcasting group TVN is held by the US media company Discovery Communications . On the other hand, the conservative print media from Polish publishers such as Instytut Gość Media ( Gość Niedzielny ), Fratria ( wSieci ), Orle Pióro ( Do Rzeczy ), Niezależne Wydawnictwo Polskie ( Gazeta Polska and Gazeta Polska Codzinne ) and the Warsaw Redemptorists ( Radio Maryja , TV Trwam and Nasz Dziennik ). The Polish conservative media also includes the broadcaster Telewizja Republika , a joint project of various media companies, as well as the internet portals niezalezna.pl , wpolityce.pl and fronda.pl . The public broadcasting , since its emergence in the People's Republic as always close to the government, which always results in striking changes of government for replacement of much of the squad, so 2005-2006, 2008-2010 and 2015-2016 happened.

watch TV
TVP headquarters in Warsaw

In addition to the public television channels of Telewizja Polska (TVP; German Polish television ), there are two other important private television channels that can also be received nationwide and nationwide: TVN and Polsat .

Until 1992, only public television was permitted to broadcast. Polsat was added in 1992, followed by TVN in 1997.

The Polish television market has continued to develop since the 1990s until today, so that the former most important providers TVP, TVN and Polsat have expanded from individual channels to packages consisting of several channels. In every package from every provider, you will also find a news, culture, documentary, feature film and sports channel.

The landscape of regional public service channels is similar to that in Germany. There are 16 independent state channels with a regional focus ( Die Third ). TV channel with the largest market share in 2012 was TVP1 with 15.41 percent. It was followed by Polsat (13.97%), TVN (13.93%) and TVP2 (12.56%).

Trójka in Krakow

The public Polish radio station Polskie Radio operates the three most important national radio programs. These are Jedynka ( The First ) with a focus on politics, culture, reports, Dwójka ( The Second ) as a cultural broadcaster and Trójka ( The Third ), especially for younger people. A dense network of 17 state regional radio stations is also operated. The state broadcaster faced serious competition in the 1990s from the private radio stations Radio Zet (a nationwide broadcaster) and RMF FM (network of around 20 regional stations), which are extremely popular with 15- to 35-year-olds.

A special feature of the Polish media landscape is the existence of channels with a strong religious orientation, such as TV Trwam and Radio Maryja , which are heard in conservative Catholic circles.

In 2004 RMF FM had the largest market share with 23.95 percent. This was followed by Radio Zet (21.41%), Polskie Radio 1 (15.51%), Polskie Radio 3 (5.32%) and Radio Maryja (2.39%).

The radio and television stations are licensed and monitored by a state supervisory authority, the Rada Mediów Narodowych (German Council of National Media ).

Print and internet media

The national daily newspapers with the highest circulation are the tabloids Fakt and Super Express as well as the Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita . All daily newspapers have lost readers in recent years, and Gazeta Wyborcza in particular fell from its original circulation of just under half a million to around 100,000 in October 2017.

The opinion-forming weekly magazines with the highest circulation include Gość Niedzielny , Polityka , Newsweek Polska and Sieci . The most important Polish press agency is Polska Agencja Prasowa (PAP). For English-speaking readers, the Warsaw Voice and Warsaw Business Journal are published . In the past there was the German-speaking polen-Rundschau .

In 1990 there were 3007 magazines, the number grew to 5,444 by 1999. The number of daily newspapers fell from 130 to 66 between 1990 and 2000.

The most famous internet portals are Onet.pl , Wirtualna Polska and Interia.pl .

In 2016, around 28 million Poles used the Internet (72.4% of the population).


National and regional customs are mainly upheld in the countryside. They are associated with the various religions, especially the Roman Catholic. The festivals of the different religious communities are important: carolers , Kulig , Wigilia and Pasterka at Christmas , cemetery celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Zaduszki , the Feast of Corpus Christi in Łowicz , the mystery plays in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska , the Kashubian Boat Festival, the St. Dominic Fair in Gdansk , the Sopot Festival and the Festival in Jarocin , the fat Thursday before Ash Wednesday , the pre-Easter egg scratching , the Easter Palm on Palm Sunday in Lipnica , the Easter food blessing on Holy Saturday, which will take place end of Easter Monday Śmigus-Dyngus and Siuda Baba , but also the Orthodox Jordan Festival in Drohiczyn and the Muslim - Tatar Kurban Bajram in Bohoniki . Pilgrimages are still very popular, such as the Catholic pilgrimages to Czestochowa , Heiligelinde , Licheń Stary , Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Łagiewniki and St. Annaberg , but also the Jewish grave visits of the Hasidic mystic Elimelech from Leżajsk and Moses Isserles from Krakow , the Orthodox Pilgrimage to Grabarka , the Dożynki harvest festival and the Juwenalia student festival . Polish high school graduates celebrate Studniówka a hundred days before their high school exams .

Many of the local customs and rites are related to the seasons (e.g. the launching of the Wianki , the sinking of the Marzanna and the Krakow Lajkonik ). Works of art related to the customs include icon painting , especially in Podlaskie , Lublin and the Sub- Carpathian Mountains , carvings with religious ( Jezus Frasobliwy ) and secular motifs, and embroidery - Koronki . Traditional costumes are also known, especially those from Krakow and those of the Gorals . The wayside chapels stand out from the traditional architectural customs, especially in the Beskids and Mazovia . Traditional music (Jewish klezmer , chamber music , mazurkas , polonaise , Krakowiaks and polkas ) as well as dance (including the dance ensembles Mazowsze , Śląsk and Słowianki ), traditional theater and the vernacular poetry of the Gorals , Kashubians and Silesians are also associated with Polish customs . The regions particularly rich in tradition include Kurpie and Podhale . Zalipie in Lesser Poland is known for its flower houses painted with Lüftlmalerei . Adult Poles celebrate name day to a greater extent than birthday, which is more likely to be celebrated by children in Poland.


Barszcz with Uszka

Polish cuisine is complex and primarily related to the kitchens of Poland's eastern neighbors, but also shows some parallels to Central European and Scandinavian kitchens. The peculiarities of Polish cuisine reflect the historical aristocratic culture and the rural culture of the country as well as its geographical conditions. There are also many traditional food production customs, such as: For example, the sheep's cheese Oscypek and the Bryndza of the Goralen from the Podhale region , the Krakow pretzel Obwarzanek and Krakow sausages such as the Wielkopolska Pyzy . Kabanos is another popular Polish type of sausage. The bagel, which is very popular in North America , also originally came from Krakow, where it was first mentioned in a Jewish source in 1610. Polish sausage products are also very popular in the USA and are marketed there under the Polish name Kielbasa or simply Polish Sausage . The most famous Polish national dishes include Pierogi , Żurek , Gołąbki , Kluski śląskie , Krokiet , Bigos , Zrazy , Flaki , Pulpety , Kopytka , Pampuchy , Kaszanka , Kotlet schabowy , Czernina and Barszcz with Uszka . As there is a lot of hunting and fishing in Poland, game and fish represent a large part of Polish cuisine. Häckerle and Ryba po grecku are traditional fish dishes. Polish sauces in particular are used as sauces . Popular sweets are Thorner gingerbread , Poznan sirloin , Pączki , Faworki , Kołaczyk , Kołacz , Mazurek , Placek , Babka , Racuchy , Kulebjak , Makiełki and Makówki . Tea and coffee are the most popular non-alcoholic beverages in Poland. Compote or mineral water are often drunk with meals . The most popular alcoholic beverages include vodka and beer . Vodka is a Polish national drink, the first vodka was produced in southeastern Poland ( Sandomierz ) in 1405. Krupnik honey wine has been popular in Poland since the Middle Ages . The viticulture in Poland is becoming increasingly popular. In Poland there are more and more winemakers who are planting vineyards, especially in the south and southeast. In the bar mleczny , publicly subsidized canteens, which are often located in city centers, you can regularly get traditional Polish cuisine at relatively low prices.


Canoes on the Krutynia in Masuria

Due to the many lakes and the long sandy seashore, water sports such as sailing (including the Great Masurian Lakes ), surfing (including Hel), diving (including Gdańsk Bay ), kayaking (including the Krutynia , Czarna Hańcza , Drawa rivers ), swimming and fishing very popular in Poland. Houseboat holidays have also become a tourist factor on the revitalized waterways. The Poles also like to use the many forests to pick mushrooms. In the mountains there is a lot of hiking and alpine skiing and snowboarding (including Sudeten , Beskydy , Tatras ). Rafting is very popular on the mountain rivers, especially the Dunajec in the Pieniny Gorge. Gliding and balloon flying are also popular in the Beskids. Cross-country skiing, dog sledding and ice sailing are practiced in the Forest Carpathians and Mazury . Popular runners are increasingly taking part in the various internationally important road races . The game of chess has a long tradition in Poland.


Winter sports play an important role in Poland. Ski jumping is very popular. Ski jumps used for international competitions are located in Zakopane ( Wielka Krokiew and Średnia Krokiew ) and in Wisła ( Malinka ). The ski jumpers Bronisław Czech , Władysław Tajner , Wojciech Fortuna , Adam Małysz , Marcin Bachleda , Kamil Stoch , Stefan Hula , Maciej Kot , Dawid Kubacki , Piotr Żyła and Jan Ziobro , the ski racers Andrze Bachleda belong to the successful Polish winter athletes , the speed skaters Katarzyna Bachleda-Curuś , Zbigniew Bródka , Artur Waś , Katarzyna Woźniak and Luiza Złotkowska , the cross-country skiers Józef Łuszczek , Justyna Kowalczyk , Dominik Bury and Martyna Galewicz , the speedster Formula 1 racer, Paulzejewicz , the snowboarder Robert and World champions Tomasz Gollob and Bartosz Zmarzlik

Athletics is also popular in Poland. In the medal tables of the World Athletics Championships, Poland has regularly been among the top ten in recent years. Anita Włodarczyk , Robert Korzeniowski , Marcin Lewandowski , Artur Noga , Lidia Chojecka , Kamila Lićwinko , Anna Rogowska and Konrad Bukowiecki were among the successful Polish athletes .

Swimming is very popular in Poland. Otylia Jędrzejczak was the most successful Polish swimmer.

Poland is also very successful in bridge .

Nevertheless, football, volleyball, handball and basketball are the most popular among Polish sports fans. The Polish Football Association is the organizer of the Ekstraklasa and its subordinate leagues. The Polish national soccer team was founded in 1919 and was one of the best teams in the world in the 1970s and 1980s. She reached third place at the 1974 and 1982 World Championships as well as the gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games and the silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games . Outstanding players at this time were Grzegorz Lato , Zbigniew Boniek , Kazimierz Deyna , Robert Gadocha , Władysław Żmuda and Andrzej Szarmach . Currently the most famous players from Poland include Artur Boruc , Wojciech Szczęsny , Robert Lewandowski , Grzegorz Krychowiak , Łukasz Piszczek and Jakub Błaszczykowski . In motorsport, the motorcycle discipline Speedway , known in Polish as Zuzel, with its PGE Extraliga, is very popular in Poland.

On April 18, 2007, Poland and Ukraine were chosen by UEFA to host the 2012 European Football Championship . To this end, four new stadiums were built in Warsaw , Gdansk , Poznan and Wroclaw .

The ATP Challenger Stettin men's tennis tournament has been held every September since 1996 . The successful Polish tennis players included or are Wojciech Fibak , Mariusz Fyrstenberg , Jerzy Janowicz , Hubert Hurkacz , Agnieszka Radwańska , Urszula Radwańska , Magda Linette , Iga Świątek , Magdalena Fręch and Paula Kania .

public holidays

All Saints Day
Independence march
January 1st New Year ( Nowy Rok )
6th January Holy Three Kings ( Święto Trzech Króli )
March April Easter Sunday ( Niedziela Wielkanocna )
March April Easter Monday ( Poniedziałek Wielkanocny )
1st of May National Day ( Święto Państwowe )
May 3rd Constitution Day of May 3, 1791 ( Święto Konstytucji Trzeciego Maja )
7th Sunday after Easter Pentecost ( Zielone Świątki )
9. Thursday after Easter Corpus Christi ( Boże Ciało )
15th of August Assumption of the Virgin Mary ( Wniebowzięcie Najświętszej Maryi Panny ), which is also the Day of the Polish Army
November 1st All Saints' Day ( Wszystkich Świętych )
November 11th Independence Day ( Dzień Niepodległości )
25 December 1st Christmas Day ( pierwszy dzień Bożego Narodzenia )
December 26th 2nd Christmas Day ( drugi dzień Bożego Narodzenia )

See also

Portal: Poland  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Poland


Web links

Commons : Poland  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Poland  Travel Guide
Wikimedia Atlas: Poland  - geographical and historical maps
 Wikinews: Poland  - in the news
Wikiquote: Poland  - Quotes
Wiktionary: Poland  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Poland  - Sources and full texts

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Coordinates: 52 °  N , 19 °  E