If one wishes to admire some of the most exquisite historical places of the world, one should definitely think of Poland. The 20th century was an especially packed time-frame there and the museums of the country directly reflect its ups and downs. So, without further ado, let us look at a few of the ones that you should definitely not miss!
1. POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews:
There’s no doubt about the fact that Warsaw is one of the more historically-significant cities of Poland (not to mention its capital status), and here’s one of the reasons why: it is home to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Situated on the very location of the Warsaw Ghetto, the establishment was founded in 2005 and ultimately opened between 2013 and 2014. What’s interesting about it is that the Hebrew word “polin” means two things: “Poland” or “rest here”. If we take a moment just to let that sink in, we will realise that the whole meaning and purpose of the museum is to illustrate the thousand-year-old Jewish presence in Poland (up until the infamous Holocaust and a bit afterwards as well). In fact, the word “polin” is linked to a national legend that relates the story of how the first Jews arrived there. Covering more than 4,000 square metres of exhibition space, the museum is split into eight galleries: Forest (tells the story of the first Jewish arrival – as mentioned above); First Encounters (explores the first Jewish settlers and the life and work of Ibrahim ibn Jakub); Paradisus Iudaeorum (exploring some economic development details – also keep an eye out for the model of Kraków and the Jewish Kazimierz district); The Jewish Town (this one delves deeper history of the local Jews up until the point of the Partitions of Poland); Encounters with Modernity (this section deals with the Partitions and the fate that the Jews shared with the Polish people); On the Jewish Street (this section deals with the period of the Second Polish Republic); Holocaust (this gallery is devoted to the decimation of the Jews in Poland and the German occupation); and, finally, Postwar Years (this is a section devoted to the years following 1945). There is no better place to explore the history of the Polish Jews for the whole thing is presented in a personal and a delicate fashion. This, of course, makes it a must-see for everyone (not to mention the fact that over 450,000 people visit it each year).
2. Polish Aviation Museum:
Going to Poland without visiting the Kraków-based Polish Aviation Museum will still be interesting (because the country is as beautiful as it can get) but it just won’t be the same. Located at the site of the unused Kraków-Rakowice-Czyżyny Airport (founded by Austria-Hungary in 1912 – this makes it one of the oldest airfields in the world), the museum was opened in 1964 (following the abandonment of the airfield in 1963). With over 200 aircraft to showcase, it surely is one of the most exquisite attractions of its parent city. And here comes the interesting part (the reason why most specialists adore this museum): it has almost all planes ever used or developed by Poland after 1945. If that didn’t draw your attention to it, then let us enumerate a few notable planes on display: a de Havilland Sea Venom FAW.21, a WSK-Mielec M-15 Belphegor, a Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, a Yakovlev Yak-42, a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19, a Aeritalia F-104S, a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23, and countless others. This is a must for history buffs!
3. Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum:
You know what’s sad? The fact that we have all heard of Auschwitz – and not because of some glorious event but because of the atrocities that have taken place there. Thus, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is a place where you can explore some of the most haunting sights that one can behold on Planet Earth. In polish, Auschwitz is called Oświęcim and the museum itself contains the concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Founded by the act of the Sejm on 2 July 1947, museum and its surroundings have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name “Auschwitz German Nazi concentration and extermination camp (1940–45)”. This is another one that is a must-see for all history buffs but it is definitely an eye-opener for all those who dare to brave its grounds. Although the whole setting is sombre and full of things that people usually tend to avoid, we recommend that you become one of the nearly 2 million people that visit it each year.
Did you enjoy our list? Which of the aforementioned museums have you visited and what impressions have they left you with? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and do come back to us for some exciting updates and articles! Safe travels!