Cities & Towns
Gigantic metropolis, historic towns and villages of sentimental charm for which poems and songs have been written. Poland officially has a total of 887 towns. The largest is Warsaw, with a population of 1.7 million, while the smallest Polish town has just 884 inhabitants.
The main cities are not only the capitals of their fast-developing regions, but also have their own unique character. Lodz is famed for its grand Piotrkowska Street and industrial sites of the 19th century. The city also offers Europe’s largest urban forest and Jewish cemetery.
Krakow, the historic capital of the kings who resided at the Wawel castle, is today Poland’s cultural and entertainment centre – it contains one quarter of the country’s museums. The city’s bars and restaurants are too numerous to count.
In Wroclaw, apart from the historic buildings of Ostrow Tumski, the Church of St Elizabeth and the Leopoldynska Hall, you can also see the post-modernist Hall of the Century, a reinforced concrete structure which was the most contemporary building of its time.
The Polish urban landscape is created not only by the giant cities, but also – and maybe most especially – by smaller towns. The country’s small provincial towns were rudely dismissed by the poet Andrzej Bursa. Was he right? Absolutely not! These places are exceptional.
Kazimierz Dolny, a town beloved by artists on the Vistula river. Sandomierz, with its numerous monuments standing above a maze of cellars carved out of the rock. Suwalki, with a street lined with buildings from the time of the Congress Kingdom. The military town of Borne Sulinowo, which for 40 years was not shown on any Polish map.
Then there is Plock, with its Romanesque cathedral and castle on the high banks of the Vistula, and Pultusk, with the longest marketplace in Europe. Next we have Biecz, an architectural miracle dating back 400 years, built from the profits of the local trade in Hungarian wine. Finally, there is Chelmno, an exemplary Teutonic Order town, which has retained its medieval layout and has not been disfigured by modern architecture and is also a Mecca for lovers (relics of St. Valentine can be found there).