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Culture, arts and crafts

Visitors might head to Poland for many reasons. Heritage, family ties and castles are all big draws, but there is no denying the fact that the rich culture of Poland is also a highlight of any trip to the country. Music, arts and crafts are all tangible representations of the heritage and culture that Poland has to offer.

One of the best ways to truly understand the history and culture of Poland is by spending time in some of its many museums. Poland’s museums vary in subject, as well in size ranging from those housed in grand structures to smaller museums that focus in-depth on just one or two aspects of culture. For example, The Historical Museum of the City of Kraków provides a well-structured and exciting look at the development of the city over the years. One particular part of the museum that can’t be missed is the Underground Market Square Exhibition, located under the market square, which gives visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to look at life in Kraków as it evolved throughout the centuries.

As might be expected from the birthplace of Chopin, Poland is a place where music is appreciated, and travelers can enjoy it in some of the world’s most excellent venues. The Grand Theatre of Warsaw, for example, is a sprawling building with a rich history. It was completely devastated during World War II but was eventually restored and now hosts operas and ballets year-round. The Polish National Opera performs works by Polish composers as well as classic operas. The renowned Warsaw Ballet Company also presents here.

Art has a particular way of capturing moments in time and portraying events, scenes, and feelings in ways that people can relate to. Poland’s many art galleries are a precious resource of paintings, sculptures, and other handmade crafts. Of particular interest is the Polish pottery. Better known as Bolesławiec Pottery or Polish Stoneware, this pottery is a unique item that hails from Poland's Silesia region.

While there are some suggestions that pottery has been made in the Silesia region of Poland since the 7th century, the first documentation of production was from the end of the 14th century. The fine white clay was collected from between the Bóbr River and Kwisa River, and eventually, pottery becomes the area's primary industry. With more and more potters coming onto the scene, guilds were formed to regulate the process and ensure a perfect final product. This step in the 16th century was the key to making a name for Polish stoneware throughout Europe.

When the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, spotted the pottery, he insisted on having custom versions made for himself with emblems and family patterns, many of which are still used often to this day. In 1897, a ceramics school was founded in Bolesławiec, which taught the art of making Polish stoneware as well as the creative and artistic elements involved in painting the final products.

Those who are interested in learning more about Polish stoneware, seeing the many different varieties currently made in Poland, watching the artists at work, and shopping for unique pieces to take home as a souvenir may want to visit Bolesławiec. Each year, the town comes alive and welcomes visitors from around the world to celebrate the annual pottery festival. Typically taking place in August, the pottery festival lasts for five days and includes a range of different events.

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