When Americans plan to visit Europe, countries like France, England, Germany, and Italy usually make the top of the wish list. But the European Union is home to a number of amazing countries that often fly under the US radar.
One such country is Poland. Here are just a few of the most interesting facts about Poland — and reasons that you should visit!
- Poland is bigger than both Italy and the UK.
Poland is the eighth largest country in Europe (or ninth if you include Russia). It’s just a little bit smaller than the state of New Mexico.
- Polish history is incredibly complicated.
If you’re someone who loves history and battles, try taking a peek into Polish history. The country has been invaded or fought for its freedom more than 40 times. The medieval era was a particularly complicated one for Poland, and it even disappeared from world maps for a period in the 1700s.
- Nicolaus Copernicus was Polish.
Copernicus was the first astronomer to propose that the Earth is not the center of the universe.
- Poland had the second constitution in the world.
Following the United States, Poland adopted its own constitution in 1791. Unfortunately, Poland’s first constitution only lasted a little over a year.
- Marie Curie was Polish.
The groundbreaking scientist is closely associated with France, but she was born and raised in Poland. Her given name was Maria Sklodowska.
- Poland has one of the world’s oldest salt mines.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine was built in the thirteenth century.
- Over 96% of Polish citizens identify as Roman Catholic.
That said, freedom of religion is a right in Poland.
- Poland is home to the oldest restaurant in Europe.
The restaurant Piwnica Swidnicka has been in operation since 1275.
- The Polish city of Wroclaw hosts a myriad of festivals every year.
Annual festivals that take place in Wroclaw celebrate literature, jazz music, and one-actor performances.
- Poland has the second oldest university in Europe.
Jagiellonian University was founded way back in 1364.
- Poland makes some great vodka.
Vodka is an important beverage in Poland, and a lot of the best vodkas in the world come from Poland. There is some debate, but many experts believe that vodka was invented in Poland. It was originally used as a medicine.
- College in Poland is free.
If you’re a Polish citizen, you can attend a state-run university without paying tuition.
- Poland’s land is very diverse.
The country is home to beaches and lakes, forests and mountains, and even deserts.
- Polish people like to celebrate their name days.
Many people in Poland celebrate their name day instead of their birthday. All of the most common Polish names are associated with a particular day of the year. These are feast days for particular Catholic saints.
- Polish is an incredibly hard language to learn.
It is considered one of the most complicated languages in the world thanks to additional tenses, letters, and difficult pronunciations.
- Poland is home to 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Thanks to its long and complicated history, Poland is home to a number of culturally significant monuments. Perhaps the most famous UNESCO site in Poland is the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz Birkenau.
- Poland has 24 national parks.
- Pol’and’Rock Festival is one of the largest free music festivals in the world.
The festival has been held every summer since 1995.
- Poland is home to a number of beautiful castles.
Many of Poland’s castles are open to the public.
- Americans don’t need a visa to visit Poland!
If you have a US passport, you don’t need to worry about Poland visas. If you have a passport from another country, give us a call to learn what requirements you might be subject to.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.