Monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage list – We are in good company
The sites on marked with the UNESCO sign are treasures of the highest order. Poland has managed to register thirteen sites on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. This indeed is a rich collection which includes churches, castles, mines and national parks.
Poland was promoted to this elite group for the first time in 1978 when international experts praised the Old Town in Krakow and its wonderful urban layout, unchanged since medieval times.
After Krakow, other old town urban layouts in Warsaw, Zamosc and Torun were also added to the list. The capital has gained recognition for the outstanding post-war restoration of its old town. Zamosc enchanted with its perfectly preserved Renaissance buildings and Torun with its ubiquitous Gothic style. The cities were also joined by the Teutonic Order's castle in Malbork, one of the largest Gothic fortresses in the world.
There is no shortage of temples on the list. Apart from six wooden churches in the Lesser Poland and Subcarpatian regions or the chapels on the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, there are also the 17th century Churche of Peace in Swidnica and Jawor which took their name to commemorate the peace ending the Thirty Years War after which the emperor allowed the Lutherans to erect these wooden structures outside the towns but only in one calendar year.
Natural wonder include the Bialowieza National Park, the best preserved primeval forest in this part of Europe or the Muzakowski Park, a beautiful 19th century English-style landscape park that can be found on the border of Poland with Germany.
An amazing and phenomenal entry is the medieval Salt Mine in Wieliczka the oldest industrial complex in Poland. To a completely separate category we must include the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which witnessed the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Poles, Roma peoples and also victims of other nationalities.
The latest addition on the list is the Centennial Hall in Wroclaw which was added only in 2006. This structure, studied by architectural students from around the world, is the flagship example of modernism and a great technical achievement of the German architect Max Berg. The structure was erected in a novel fashion, for the beginning of the 20th century, from reinforced concrete.