Mountains, Museums and Mines – A view of an educational tour to Poland
First Published December 9th 2013
We like to work close with our partners around the world to provide educational tours that tick the boxes for learning and enjoyment. Together we provide our Party Leaders with the information and arrangements to make their school tour a success. This week we caught up with our agent in Poland, Tomasz, to hear about the must-see visits and what you can expect from an educational trip to Poland.
City of culture, literature, students and jazz clubs! For 600 years Krakow was the capital of the Polish Kingdom and is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. For this reason, it was one of the first 12 places in the world that were put on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A few steps from the Old Town area is the Old Jewish Quarter with one of the oldest synagogues remaining in Europe. It was here that Steven Spielberg made the film Schindler’s List – about Oscar Schindler and the Jews he saved by giving them work in his factory, which is still standing today.
Poland is a very Catholic country and Krakow’s most famous religious residents were Pope John Paul II and Sister Faustina. Its Catholic roots extend far into the nation’s history, distinguishing itself from its Lutheran and Orthodox neighbours. Despite following the European trend of a decrease in religious observance, Easter continues to remain an important holiday for Polish Catholics.
Just outside of Krakow, the Nowa Huta district was designed as the ideal communist city. Here students can retrace the history of the fall of communism spreading across Eastern Europe.
Krakow is a great base to explore the area with the most important visits remaining the Wieliczka Salt Mine (UNESCO), Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum (UNESCO) and the Tatra Mountains and Zakopane. Zakopane is known as the summer capital of Poland with its collection of wooden architecture (UNESCO). Its perfect location at the foot of the Tatra Mountains marks Zakopane as a popular destination for student groups to explore Polish culture against a picturesque backdrop.
Riese Mines - Osowka
If you are travelling from Berlin by coach why not make an overnight stop in Wroclaw. On the way to Wroclaw stop in the Riese Mines (Osowka) to discover one of the secrets of the World War II.
Visit the amazing underground mines excavated in the Sowie Mountains during WWII and the hundreds of kilometers of underground tunnels, chambers and installation systems that remain from Hitler’s secret plan (cryptonym Riese). The tunnels were probably built as Hitler’s main underground headquarters, a weapons factory, or laboratories. The Riese project stands as one of Hitler’s largest undertakings and a poignant reminder to students of how far Hitler’s reign of terror stretched. During the tour take an underground boat ride and visit parts of the complex including the shafts in Wlodarz and the Underground Mine in Osówka. There is an exhibition of military vehicles, and it’s possible to enjoy the soldiers’ delicacy of bean soup inside a military tent.
Take time for sightseeing in the Old Town of Wroclaw. The Episcopal Palace and the medieval churches are situated on the Ostrów Tumski (The Cathedral Island). This former island located amongst the branches on the river has been depicted as a sanctuary, which had a ban on headwear to symbolise its unique status. Students can walk around the picturesque medieval Square of Wroclaw with the magnificent gothic Town Hall and enjoy an evening meal in Europe’s oldest restaurant – Piwnica Swidnicka. Experience traditional Polish cuisine in the warm surroundings of Piwnica Swidnicka where elegantly carved furniture adds to the charm of the restaurant.
In 1944 Wroclaw was proclaimed to be a German Fortress with up to one million German citizens. Despite a dramatic decrease in German inhabitants, Wroclaw is still considered a European city of mixed heritage. During a guided tour your group will learn about the secret plans which Hitler connected with the city of Wroclaw and learn about its diverse past that makes this city the historical capital of Silesia.