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the poland country has a history of about 1000 years. it began 960 as a small territory around the town of poznan, and 1025 it became a kingdom. in the 16th century, warsaw developed into the capital.
from 1772 onwards poland suffered several "partitions", in which large parts were taken away by prussia, austria and russia, and in 1795 it was extinguished completely. its central part was reinstalled by napoleon, and 1815 at the vienna congress, "congress-polen" was created. but 1831 poland was made a russian province.
after worldwar-1 an independent poland was once more re-established. yet 1940 it was again extinguished - taken half by germany (hitler) and by the sowjetunion (stalin) . however, after worldwar-2, in 1945 poland was recreated by the allies, and moved westwards (getting east-germany, losing east-poland -- see map).

finally, 1989 poland left the sowjet empire and became an independent democratic country. given its rich history, the many famous cities, and the variety of landscapes, from the baltic coast to the mountains in the south, poland is very attractive to travellers.

GDANSK preview

this city is situated at the baltic coast, it was founded in 997 as a polish harbour town. from about 1250 onwards, german trades people settled in gdansk and became quite influential. later it became a member of the hanseatic league. after several wars, in 1793 gdansk (danzig) was annexed by the kingdom of prussia, within the second partition of poland. after worldwar-1, it became the "free city of danzig", an independent quasi-state under the auspices of the league of nations. finally, since the end of worldwar-2, it became again fully part of poland, and it played a crucial role in polands emancipation from the soviet union.
given the long and 'wild' history of gdansk, it is full of unique architecture; two distinctive views are shown below.

WROCLAW preview

wroclav is a large multicultural city at the river oder. it was founded in the 10th century, first by a slavic tribe and soon also by the bohemians, then called vratislava. it belonged mostly to poland, called wroclaw. from 1200 onwards, the town was increasingly populated by german settlers, who, in the following centuries, became its dominant ethnic group. in 1242 it was first time named "breslau", the germanized name of the city. 1335 it was incorporated into the kingdom of bohemia, thereby becoming part of the (basically german) "holy roman empire".
wroclaw~breslau soon became the centre of the large province silesia~schlesien, both in industrial and in cultural terms. 400 years later, the kingdom of prussia annexed the town and most of silesia during its war with the habsburg empire (austria). it then basically became a german city. as outlined above, after worldwar-2, in 1945, the german province of silesia~schlesien was allocated to poland. almost all german residents flew to west germany. the map below shows the location of wroclaw and also swidnica.

its by far most famous building is the (old) townhall - see below. its construction began in 1350, and it was extended and reshaped intensely over the following centuries. during worldwar-2, wroclaw~breslau was almost completely destroyed, because the bombing lasted to the very end in may 1945. this included the cathedral - see below.

as outlined earlier, wroclaw~breslau is now part of poland, and again an important city. thus poland has engaged in rebuilding many historic buildings, and also supports contemporary architecture. in 2016 wroclaw became the "european capital of culture".


it is assumed that swidnica~schweidnitz in silesia, south-west of wroclav, became a town in 1250. it was always linked to wroclav, and thus its history is quite similar. until worldwar-2, it was predominantly a german city.

the by far most important building in swidnica~schweidnitz is the evangelical "church of peace", now a unesco heritage site.
this church was built from 165657, and its architecture is exceptional. as the city was mostly catholic at that time, for this protestant church very harsh rules were set up:
> it had to be outside the city walls,
> no stones were allowed for building it,
> erecting a bell tower was forbidden.
so it was completely made from timber. however, it was abundantly painted inside, even including the ceiling. at a later time many art pieces were added, and two full-scale organs were installed.

the church of peace is very different to all classical churches - it is truly unique, and alltogether extremely impressive.