???Halloween is coming up soon, It’s this time of year where people get to dress up in spooky costumes, eat a bunch of candy, and share some chilling stories with friends. Sometimes, the most terrifying Halloween stories are the true ones, just like some of Poland’s spooky spots that I want to share with you, they all still exist in real life and retain an eerie atmosphere.?

Ogrodzieniec Castle

Ogrodzieniec Castle is one of the biggest fortresses in Europe, was originally built in the 14th–15th century, and is home to an atypical ghost: a big, black dog, which is said to be the disembodied spirit of Stanisław Warszycki, the early 17th-century owner and administrator of the castle, who did not want to share his wealth with anyone even after his death. Besides the legend, the castle is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins, located on the peak of the Upland – the Castle Hill, rising at 515,5 m above sea level. One can see climbing the “Eagle Nest Path”  that runs through the dramatic landscape and will marvel at its wonders. 

Niedzica Castle

It is a medieval castle that was originally built in 1325 by the Brezevichy family. It’s said that one of the first owners of the castle,  Sebastian Brezevichy, whose wife was an Inca royal and they brought the Inca treasure of the family to the castle. The legend says that the ghost of Umina, called “white lady”, appears every night to scare away the people who want to steal their treasure that were hidden on the castle grounds. You can even find a sign along the road leading up to the castle, it’s said “Haunted Attention”. Thanks to its picturesque location and the legend behind it, Niedzica Castle is one of the most popular attractions in Poland and appears on many national publications and books, including one of Netflix TV shows The Witcher that was shot here.

Chęciny Castle

The castle was built around the 13th century and has had several different owners, such as the Casimir III the Great’s second wife Adelaide of Hesse, Elisabeth of Poland, and Queen of Hungary. The Queen of Poland Bona Sforza is one of the most famous occupants, it’s said that after she died, her ghost often wanders in the Chęciny Castle searching for the treasures that were supposed to be taken to Italy, but it’s believed the treasures had been hidden somewhere in the castle.

photo: Marek Skorupski/Forum

After four years of renovation work, the Corpus Christi Basilica in Kraków has been restored to its former glory. You should definitely visit it if you have the chance.

This historic massive church was commissioned by King Casimir III the Great in 1335, located in the Kazimierz district of Kraków, is one of the city’s largest, and defiantly most beautiful Gothic churches. The exterior of the Basilica remained mostly Gothic, with a free-standing bell tower, while its Baroque interior is a feast of brick, marble, gold, as well as a myriad of oil paintings. The Gothic walls are a sharp contrast to gilded Baroque altars adorning each pillar. Visitors will marvel at the fantastic interiors inside, which feature a boat-shaped pulpit held aloft by two mermaids, the largest organ in the city containing a total of eighty-three pipes, the Renaissance-style mausoleum with a painted door as well as the iconic paintings of Christ the Savior and Mother Mary in the nave, which was the masterpiece of the Polish artist Luke Porębski at the beginning of the 17th century. Another feature of the Basilica is the special opening placed near the apex of the vaulted ceiling, which is called ‘a rift in the skies’. 

The Corpus Christi Basilica is considered one of the most beautiful Baroque-style temples in Central Europe and is well worth seeing while you visit the Old Jewish Quarter of Kraków.

Photo from krakow.wiki

You might hear of the fairy tale city of Krakow, the former capital of Poland, and its famous dragon legend.?

Do you know that the establishment of the first capital of Poland also came with its own legend❓

Gniezno is only 50 km from Poznań, beautifully located on five hills among lakes. Considered as the cradle of the Polish state, Gniezno was the birthplace of its Royalty and Christianity and served as the capital of Piast Poland. It was here that Bolesław the Brave was crowned as the first Polish king in the year of 1025.

It is said that the name ‘Gniezno’ relates back to a legend. Once up a time, there were three brothers who went hunting together but each of them followed a different prey and eventually they all traveled in different directions. Among the three brothers, Lech decided to travel northward and he eventually stopped in a large valley where he noticed that there was a nest of a white eagle on the highest hill. Taking this as an omen, he chose to settle in this area and named his settlement Gniezno, meaning ‘nest’, and adopted the White Eagle as his coat-of-arms.

Known as one of the oldest towns in Poland, Ginezno is packed with historic buildings that most of them can stem from the 10th century and early 11th century. Its Old Town is a charming collection of winding streets and colorful, slope-roofed buildings centred on a pleasant cobblestone square and the city’s famous cathedral. The highlight of the town’s attraction is the 14th-century Gothic Cathedral, which dates back to the end of the ninth century, served as the coronation place for several Polish monarchs and the seat of Polish church officials continuously for nearly 1000 years. The Gniezno Cathedral is famous for the Gniezno Doors and the coffin containing the relics of St Adalbert. The Gniezno Doors fitted in the Gothic portal of the south entrance representing one of the outstanding examples of Romanesque metalwork in Europe. It contains two massive winged bronze doors decorated with 18 bronze panels, and each of them was engraved with scenes from the life of St. Adalbert of Prague. There are also several Gothic churches, the Archdiocesan Museum and the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State that are well worth a visit.

If you are tire of visiting museums and churches, wandering along the tranquil Jelonek Lake is another fun way to enjoy the splendor view of the old town of Gniezno.?

Photo by Getty Images

Did you know that there is a cross-border park located on the Polish and German border? Known for the largest and one of the most famous English gardens in Central Europe, MUSKAUER PARK is a landscape park that covers 3.5 km² of land in Poland and 2.1km² in Germany, extending along both sides of the border river Lusatian Neisse. This grand park was created by Prince Hermann von Puckler-Muskau from 1815 to 1844, an accomplished artist in landscape gardening who pioneered new approaches to landscape design and influenced the development of landscape architecture in Europe and America. 

The park blends in so well with the local town and surrounding agricultural landscapes. Natural ponds, ravines, streams, glades, the various parts of the park are connected with sweeping vista and paths that wind through the landscaping. On the Polish side of the park, visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the heart of the park called the Park on Terraces, as well as Petzold’s Arboretum and beautiful wooden bridges that connected both parts of the park. Muskauer Park was considered one of the most remarkable examples of garden art of the 19th century in Europe and has added to World Heritage List in 2014, as an exemplary example of cross-border cultural collaboration between Poland and Germany.

This landscaped park is too large to be fully explored on foot in one day, taking a bicycle would be an excellent way to explore the park.?

Photo from pinterest

If you are passionate about history and want to experience the atmosphere of Poland’s medieval history, then the Eagles’ Nests Landscape Park would be your best choice. Situated on the beautiful, undulating Kraków-Czestochowa Upland, it is a 597 km2 protected area established in 1980 and covers much of the area of the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests, which is a marked trail along a chain of 25 medieval castles. This special name of the Park stems from numerous medieval castles built in the area, which are mostly located on tall rocks and cliffs in the Polish Jura and are compared to eagles’ nests.

Hiking with fun ⛰?‍♀️?‍♂️

For those who enjoy the outdoors, there are many hiking trails and limestone rocks perfect for climbing. One of the best ways to visit the Eagles’ Nests is to hike along the 164 km the Trail of the Eagle’s Nests, which is a marked trail along a chain of 25 medieval castles that starts in Kraków and ends in Czestochowa and is considered as one of the best tourist trails in Poland. Along the way, people can admire many historic castles and a location for the Netflix series The Witcher. For families with children, they will love the fresh air and easy trails here. 

Visit the extraordinary castles ? ?? ?

The castles date mostly to the 14th century, they were constructed probably by the order of King of Poland Casimir the Great and were built to protect Krakow as well as important trading routes against the foreign invaders. Later on, some of the castles passed on into the hands of various aristocratic families. New owners usually refurbished and renovated their medieval fortresses as stately manor-houses and family nests but eventually, the proud Eagle-nest castles largely turned into picturesque ruins. Nonetheless, they remain spectacular landmarks and well worth a visit.

? Among all the castles, the most particular one is Pieskowa Skala Castle, which is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture in Poland that once serviced as a seat of several noble families, located just 40 km from Krakow Old Town and surrounded by the picturesque Polish Jurassic Highland. Today, the castle is known as one of the pearls of the Polish Renaissance featuring the 16th-century arcaded courtyard and observation loggia. It looks fabulous, especially in autumn when surrounded by colorful leaves.

? Ogrodzieniec Castle is another highlight in the trail, which is one of the biggest fortresses in Europe. Located on the peak of the Upland – the Castle Hill, rising at 515,5 m above sea level, the castle is a ruined medieval castle that was originally built in the 14th–15th century. It is perfectly integrated with the area. Three sides of the castle were covered by high rocks, and the circuit was closed by a stone wall, leading through a narrow slot between the rocks. People who visit here will marvel at its wonders. 

Photo by krakow.wiki

Known as the third-largest castle in Poland, as well as the largest castle in Lower Silesia, Książ Castle was built at the end of the 13th century by the Silesian Duke Bolko I. It located in northern Wałbrzych, perched on a tall hill, surrounded by a deep valley covered with lush forest. It’s aptly described as ‘Pearl of Silesia’.

Over the centuries, Książ Castle changed hands often and belonged to various states. It was destroyed during the numerous wars, and then was repeatedly remodeled until well into the 20th century, which shape the castle form into what it is today – a colorful castle full of different styles including Romanesque, Baroque, and Renaissance style. This fairy-tale castle we see today took shape during the 16th century. Thanks to the lord of the castle at that time, the affluent Hochberg family, who expanded the castle and significantly contributed to its splendor. After many transformations, Książ Castle finally became more of a stately home than a fortress by taking down the dikes, ditches, moats, part of the defensive walls, and creating a French-style garden.

During World War II, the castle was seized by the Nazis, and they created a system of tunnels underneath the castle, in which the function still remains a mystery. After the war, the castle was started falling into ruin. But luckily, restoration work began soon and the castle has been elaborately restored to its previous grandeur. 

Today, much of the castle is open to visitors, including the elegantly decorated Maximilian’s Hall, which is the best-preserved Baroque banquet room in Silesia, the Princess Daisy apartments in baroque-style, the Games Salon, the Oriental Room. Climbing up the castle tower to admire a delightful view of the surroundings is also a highlight of the castle. Apart from impressive attractions, Książ Castle houses luxury hotel accommodations and fine restaurants. It is also a venue for exhibitions and festivals even weddings.

? Take a virtual tour from the air: www.ksiaz.walbrzych.pl/virtual_tour/en/

Poland boasts over 500 castles and 2,5 thousand of palaces around the country, but If you want to visit the most authentic Polish aristocratic residences, make sure to have a look at Zamoyski Palace in Kozłówka. 

Situated about 35 km north of Lublin, this large rococo and neoclassical palace complex were owned by Zamojski’s family, famous Polish magnates. The original palace was founded in 1735-1742 for the Bieliński family, built in late Baroque style with some elements of rococo presenting a merger of European art with old Polish building traditions. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the palace was acquired by the aristocratic Zamoyski Family and rebuilt in Neo-Baroque style. The remodeled apartments are furnished with magnificent ceramic stoves, marble fireplaces, huge chandeliers, an oak parquet floor, a rich collection of paintings, furniture, original porcelain, and countless works of art. Instead of being destroyed by World War 2, all of these fancy furniture and refined interiors are perfectly preserved miraculously. 

Featuring fantastic original interiors and lots of art collections, It is no surprise that Zamoyski Palace is considered as the most monumental and representative magnate residences in Poland. Nowadays the palace houses a museum of Poland’s finest collection of the well-preserved 19th-century everyday objects and around 1000 paintings which almost completely cover the walls. 

Recognized as the best surviving example of an aristocratic residence in Poland, Zamoyski Palace retains the authenticity and fidelity both of its historic interiors and its surroundings, which were honoured with many awards and distinctions.

Sixteen destinations in Poland have been awarded Google Maps’ coveted Golden Pin award! ?

The awards are handed out to the one top-rated destination in each of Poland’s 16 provinces, based on the opinions of Google Maps’ users.?

Here is the full list of 16 Golden Pin Destinations in Poland?

How many of them have you visited so far??

  • Marlbork?Malbork Castle, the largest brick castle in the world
  • Szczecin?Chrobry Embankment, the best place to capture the vast panorama of the Odra River and the harbour
  • Stańczyki?Stańczyki Viaducts, among the largest bridges in Poland
  • Bialystok?Branicki Palace, known as the Polish Versailles
  • Toruń?The Living Museum of Gingerbread, the first interactive museum in Europe and you can take part in the making processes of Gingerbread
  • Wroclaw?Africarium, the only themed oceanarium devoted solely to exhibiting the fauna of Africa
  • Międzyrzecz?The Miedzyrzecki Fortified Region, visit the museum of fortifications and the largest European underground bat refuge
  • Kozłówka?Zamoyski Palace and Museum, a picturesque rococo and neoclassical palace complex
  • Ujeździe?Krzyżtopór Castle, a majestic and magnificent ruin
  • Kraków?Wawel Royal Castle, the most historically and culturally significant site in Poland
  • Lodz?Rose Passage, the biggest wall decorated with glass mosaic in Poland
  • Poznan?Citadel Park, a picturesque national historic monument
  • Sanok?The Rural Architecture Museum of Sanok, one of the biggest open-air museums in Poland presenting 19th and early 20th century life in this area
  • Zabrze? Guido Mine, a must-see spot of the European Route of Industrial Heritage
  • Opole? Philharmonic of Poland, one of Poland’s leading Orchestras
  • Warsaw? Lazienki Royal Park, the largest park in Warsaw where the Palace on the Island is located

Szczecin is the largest city in northwestern Poland, located near the Baltic Sea at only about 20 km from the German border. There is no better way to capture some of the glamour of the city than by taking a stroll on Waly Chrobrego Promenade with great views on the Oder river and beautiful architectural complexes along the way. 

To the south of the promenade, one can find the Pomeranian Dukes Castle which was originally built in 1346, St. James’ Church which is about 110 meters high, the historical Town Hall and the other attractions in the old town. To the northwest of the promenade, the picturesque Kasprowicza Park is the largest park in the city, situated in an idyllic valley sloping down to the Rusalka Lake. At the edge of the park, come to the incredible Różanka Rose Garden, which features over 9,000 fragrant roses of 99 varieties.

Szczecin boasts many historical sites which are well worth a visit. Not only that, but it’s also home to three vast local forests and one of the biggest lakes in Poland, Lake Dabie. A quarter of the city’s area is covered by water, you can enjoy both the natural scenery and the city sights by experiencing sailing, canoe or prefer motorboats, there is a lot of ways to discover the charm of Szczecin. 

Katowice, one of the most vibrant and modern cities in Poland, is the gateway to Silesia and has no lack of appealing attractions. Situated on the banks of the small river Rawa, Katowice is a product of the industrial boom in the 19th-century that you can still find plenty of historical architectures that were built at that time. 

One of the highlights is the Industrial Monuments Route in Nikiszowiec district, which is a historical settlement that all made of the red brick and was only housing for mining families. This settlement consists of 9 buildings representing Silesian “familiok” architecture, each one has a square or triangle form with the level of floors limited to three, surrounding large inside courtyards. It is one of Poland’s official national Historic Monuments and there is a big chance it is going to join UNESCO’s World Heritage List in the future. 

Katowice is also one of the most interesting musical cities in the world. It is home to the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and is also the place holding the biggest indoor blues festival in the world, Rawa Blues Festival. With its musical soul of the city, Katowice was named a UNESCO City of Music as part of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative in 2015.

Katowice is definitely the destination for cultural visitors, and it’s convenient to visit, less than an hour’s drive from Krakow.?

Photo by Polish Tourism Organization