The list of objects particularly protected by UNESCO – the international organization which is a branch of UN. Objects of significant cultural and natural values are put on this list. Currently (from August 2010) the list contains 911 objects in 151 countries, including 704 objects of Cultural Heritage (CH), 180 objects of Natural Heritage (NH) and 27 objects carrying both values (CH and NH). Since 1977 the World Heritage Committee has been considering all proposed objects and deciding whether or not inscribe them on the list during annual meetings. Nominations are reported by individual countries.
Kazimierz in Kraków
Kazimierz, the part of an Old Town, was founded by Casimir III the Great in his honour. Cracow Kazimierz constituded the Jewish Quarter. Approximately 64 thousand Jews lived there shortly before the outbreak of World War II creating their own peculiar enclave – a separate Jewish Town located within Miodowa, St. Wawrzyniec, Wąska, Józefa and Bożego Ciała streets. This district was individually managed by rabbis. The whole urban and religious life of Jews concentrated in numerous synagogues: Old Synagogue, Remuh Synagogue, High Synagogue, Izaak Synagogue, Popper Synagogue, Kupa Synagogue and Progressive Synagogue, so-called Temple Synagogue on Podbrzezie street. There are a lot of interesting places worth visiting at least for a while – House of Mordechai Gebirtig, Szeirit Bne Emun prayer house – the Center For Jewish Culture, Salomon Deiches’ prayer house, Izaak Jakubowicz Synagogue, Cheder Iwri folk school, Tachkemoni gymnasium, Koba Itim I’Torah prayer house etc. Nowadays tourists willingly visit this enchanting district and admire its impressive cultural heritage feeling remarkable atmosphere. Everyone can find bars and small shops maintaining a prewar style. This is where Kraków’s bohemia is focused and many restaurants, cafés and bars draw tourists’ attention.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
It has been operated ceaselessly since 12th century. This object is is the only one of its kind in Europe, the oldest and the longest operated inscribed on the list of World Heritage. Tunnels, situated on 9 levels to a depth of 327 metres (!), are approximately 300 kilometres in length combined. There are not only tunnels underground but also arranged interiors – chapels, underground lakes, sculptures and low reliefs, preserved mine equipment from different periods, souvenir shop and restaurant where you can organize parties, receptions, weddings and other celebrations. Nowadays this historic object is visited by millions of tourists who are given the opportunity to explore this unusual place and get acquainted with interesting legends connected with this mine, like the legend of Saint Kinga and her ring or the legend of Skarbek. Tourists are provided with 3-kilometre route, along which they can see 20 chambers.
Churches of Peace
Established in 17th century in Świednica i Jawor are the largest wooden religious buildings in entire Europe. The church in Jawor is 43,5-metre long, 14-metre wide, 15,7-metre high with a total surface area of 1,180 sq m and has capacity of 6,000! Not less impressive church in Świdnica is 44-metre long, 30,5-metre wide with a total surface area of 1,090 sq m and has capacity of 7,500, including 3,000 seats. After the Thirty Years’ War, lost by Protestants, churches were built pursuant to the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. Originally, three churches were supposed to be built, unfortunately the Peace Church in Głogów did not survive to our times because the Emperor agreed to establish churches using only impermanent building materials. As no restrictions were imposed on churches’ interiors, they were arranged in highly sophisticated way. What stands out in the Peace Church in Świdnica is certainly the private box for Hochberg family – landlords of the Ducal Castle. Matroneum in the Peace Church in Jawor is ornamented with 143 scenes from the Old and New Testaments. No other churches in Europe can boast on such sumptuously decorated interiors, for that they have been inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2001.
Is all that remains of old Białowieża, Ladzka, Świsłocka and Szereszewska forests. Its total surface exceeds 1,500 sq m. This large large area contains 1,070 species of vascular plants, more than 26 species of trees, about 200 species of mosses and ferns. This is the only place in Europe where remain last fragments of forests in their original condition. Flora is represented by 12 thousand animal species, and according to available data only half of all species living there are known! There are 58 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 7 species of reptiles (e.g. pond turtle and smooth snake) , 13 species of amphibians, 32 species of fishes, more than 9 thousand species of insects, 331 species of spiders and 20 species of leeches. Undoubtedly European bison is considered the king of the forest and its symbol. There are 13 tourist routes designed for both pedestrians and cyclists. Apart from its wealth of fauna and flora, this region is an interesting historic place that concentrates Western and Eastern traditions of Polish, Belorussian and Ukrainian cultures.
Kraków Old Town
A system of architectural buildings of the Old Town was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This unique monument remains unaltered since the Middle Ages. The beginnings of confirmed settlements date back to 8th century. Remains of relics from old Vistulans’ settlements were found within the Main Martek Square. The first town of Kraków, connected with a bishopric established in 1000, comprised an area of the Old Market where the most important events took place and the royal insignia were kept – after all Kraków was a capital. The most significant monuments of the Old Town are St. Mary’s Basilica, Draper’s Hall and the Town Hall Tower. Everything is surrounded by the Planty Park – an urban greenbelt, St. Florian’s Gate and Barbican. Kraków nowadays is vibrant with life and visited by numerous tourists. A lot of enchanting places, some of which are worth mentioning at least for a while – the Wierzynek Restaurant, the Piwnica pod Baranami (the Cellar under the Rams), Under the Lizards Club, together with numerous churches and statues create unforgettable ambience of this city.
Warsaw Old Town
It stands for the oldest part of the city. Completely destroyed during World War II, have been rebuilt maintaining the original shape, which was appreciated by inscribing it on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These areas were developed only 70 years ago and their architecture reflect the 18th-century style. The Old Town Market was a place that concentrated the most peculiar worldwide trade. It consists of the Castle Square with the Royal Castle, Sigismund’s Column and the Barbican, and the market which is surrounded by tenements. Nowadays it is an essential part of a trip to Warsaw which is full of attractions and willingly visited by tourists.
The Old Town of Zamość, as well as a whole city is the example of a “perfect city” with urban development representing the Italian Renaissance style. It is no wonder that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Bernardo Morando, Italian architect born in Padwa, received from hetman Jan Zamoyski in 1580 a commission to create plans for buildings development. This design refers to the structure of human body. Thus its head was to be the Zamoyski Palace, then going down the spine of Grodzka street which crosses the Great Market from east to west towards the palace and completing the whole structure with Solna or Moranda cross streets as arms. The Great Market from 16th century is one of the most splendid European squares – charming tenements, valuable arcades. Also magnificent Town Hall and cathedral are worth visiting.
The Wawel Hill
The most valuable monuments of Kraków stand on the Wawel Hill – the Royal Castle and the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Stanisław and Vaclaw. The first castle was built at the time of Bolesław I Chrobry, repeatedly extended and converted, was shaped eventually between 1506 -1534 in the reign of Sigismund I the Old. Nowadays it contains five museum exhibitions – “Royal Chambers”, “Private Rooms”, “Oriental Art in the Wawel Collections”, “Crown Treasury and Armoury” and “The Lost Wawel”. The Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Stanisław and Vaclav was founded at the beginning of 9th century along with the establishment of bishopric in 1000. The building is surrounded by numerous chapels and towers, including the major Sigmund’s Tower containing the hugest bell in Poland – the Sigmund Bell. Also remains of defensive walls and castle turrets make up the whole view of the Wawel. Tourists can also admire Tadeusz Kościuszko Monument and the famous Dragon’s Den allegedly dwelled by the legendary Wawel Dragon.
A medieval aggregate of Toruń
Toruń, the city known since the Middle Ages, abounds in numerous and rich monuments and is often called “Kraków of the North” or just “Little Kraków” since it is also inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. During the Middle Ages, Toruń was a Hanseatic City which kept wide relations with European countries, today Toruń is popularly called the city of gingerbread and Copernicus. The most interesting monuments is The Old Town Hall, one of the most magnificent buildings of its kind in Europe built in 14th century. Draper’s Hall with trading quarters were situated in the lower part of the hall, and the upper storeys functioned as city authorities headquarters. Another interesting building is the Artus Court – representative and large edifice which stands out from other tenements, unfortunately unavailable for internal visiting. Another monuments are numerous tenements, bourgeois palaces, city walls, turrets, the Gothic St. George’s Guildhall, churches – St. George’s Church, St. Wawrzyniec Church, St. Cross Church, St. Nicolas Church, etc. Furthermore, there are chemists, arsenals, the Collegium Maius of Nicolaus Copernicus University, banks, so-called Generałówka, Grzybek – an old tram stop, patrician tenements, Pauline Street Bridge, Jesuit’s College, Barracs of Racławice, general post office, courts, schools, the Wiliam Horzyca Theatre, Scientific Society in Toruń, coach house, the old St. Trinity Lutheran Church, the bell Tuba Dei.
Is one of the largest gothic monuments in Europe that retained to our times. Building works began in 1278. Between 1309-1457 it was the residence of the Masters of Teutonic Knights Order, when it was sold in 1457 it became the residence of Polish kings. Then in 1772 the castle was taken over by Prussians who converted it into barracks. It consist of the Low, Medium and High Castles with a total capacity of 250,000 cbm. In 1961 the Malbork Castle museum was opened. On December 1997 the castle complex was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Malbork Castle museum presents among others regular and annual expositions like the Great Refectory. Besides that, one can see the History of Restoration in 19th and 20th centuries, the Covenant’s Kitchen in the High Castle, the Main Tower of the Malbork Castle, the Malbork Apocalypse, The Architectural Transformation of the Malbork Castle, The Amber Collection, the medieval heating system of the Malbork Castle, the architectural detail of the Malbork Castle – the storage exhibition, the World Heritage List. Objects in Poland, as well as temporal objects – Guests of the Malbork Castle in the years 1309-2009; Christ, Madonna and Saints – images of Christ and Saints in the background of medieval religiousness, Post mortem vivus – alive after death. Last but not least, funeral rites of the Masters of Teutonic Order and Polish kings in the Late Middle Ages and gravestone symbolism.
The Centennial Hall
The People’s Hall, also known as The Centennial Hall, was built in Szczytnicki Park in Wrocław during the years 1911-1913. The entire complex, together with the Four Domes Pavilon, Pergola and Iglica (spire) was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. Is an example of the oldest recreational and spectacular edifice in Poland. Even though it was built 92 years ago, still has a great acoustics which ensures perfect conditions for different events and performances. As regards basic data, a ground floor surface of 14,000 sq m, an auditorium floor surface of 3,200 sq m, a total capacity of 180,000 cbm, an auditorium with total capacity of 126,000 cbm, a total number of seats in the auditorium – 7,200, the object is 42-metre high with the maximum inner diameter of 95 m, the dome diameter of 65 m and the maximum range of the main lighting system of 20 m and central sonic chandelier. All these values make a great impression.
Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp
The symbol of genocide and German terror. It was established by Germans in a suburb of Oświęcim in 1940. Originally destined to captivate Polish political prisoners, soon converted into the place of massive extermination of the Jewish people, as well as Gipsies, Poles and many people from different nationalities. The whole camp was divided into three sections (sub-camps): Auschwitz I (Oświęcim I) – the first camp, mainly a forced labour camp, which functioned also as a management centre of the whole complex, Auschwitz II-Birkenau – originally established as a concentration camp, then converted into a death camp equipped with gas chambers and crematoria, Auschwitz III (Monowitz) – providing slave labour for Buna-Werke factory which belonged to IG Farben Industries. According to official data, 1.5 million people have been killed in this camp.
Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Monastery
It was founded at the beginning of 17th as an imitation of the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem. The main originator of the project was Mikołaj Zebrzydowski – the voivod of Kraków. The whole complex consists of separate building, including a baroque basilica with a miraculous picture of Our Lady of Kalwaria, the main monastery, the complex of baroque and mannerist churches and chapels. All objects and symbolic places of worship related to the Passion and Our Lady’s lifetime are integrated into the picturesque Beskid landscape. Several thousands of pilgrims continually come to the monastery, particularly during the Holy Week before Easter and in August.