UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland

Poland is home to fifteen sites inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List. For this Postcards from Poland blog post, we wanted to tell you a little more about a few of the World Heritage Sites that are within easy reach if you are visiting Poland for the Conference.

Historic Centre of Kraków

Wawel Royal Castle

This Historic Centre of Kraków, the former capital of Poland, was inscribed to the list in 1978. Situated in the south of the country, Kraków is one of the oldest cities in Poland, and is now home to over 750,000 people. Over the centuries, the city developed from a medieval settlement into one of the most outstanding examples of European urban planning. In the Historic Centre, winding cobbled streets, medieval buildings, gothic churches, beautiful synagogues, and renaissance architecture surround one of Europe’s largest medieval squares, and provide striking examples of continuous urban growth from the Middle Ages onwards. Particular areas to visit during your time in the Historic Centre include Wawel Hill, a dominant feature on the urban landscape upon which Wawel Royal Castle (pictured) sits.

Read more about the Historic Centre of Kraków’s inscription here.

Auschwitz Birkenau

Distance from Kraków: 68.4km (approx. 1h 23m by car)


AuschwitzAuschwitz Birkenau was established by the Nazi Party to implement its final solution policy, which sought the mass genocide of Jewish people across Europe. The largest of the concentration camps, Auschwitz Birkenau was a place where over 1.5 million people were starved, tortured and murdered. Today the site has become a memorial to the holocaust, a reminder of our darkest chapter in history, and ‘a monument to the strength of the human spirit which in appalling conditions of adversity resisted the efforts of the German Nazi regime to suppress freedom and free thought and to wipe out whole races.’

Read more about the Auschwitz Birkenau, German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp World Heritage inscription here.

Visit the website here.


Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines

Distance from Kraków: 13.3km (approx. 35 minutes by car)

Salt Mines

Since the early 13th Century, the geological rock salt deposits underneath the townscapes of Wieliczka and Bochnia have been mined. An immensely valuable mineral to the medieval economy, salt was used to preserve and season food, and the mines traded across Europe up until the early 20th Century. Inscribed to the World Heritage list in 1978, the Wieliczka and Bochnia Salt Mines not only ‘illustrate the historic stages of the development of mining techniques in Europe,’ but their outstanding universal value can also be seen in the subterranean chambers built by the many generations of miners who worked there. These chambers, galleries and tunnels ‘reflect the miners’ social and religious traditions, the tools and machinery,’ and feature a network of chapels, workshops and storehouses over a hundred metres below the earth’s surface.

Read more about the Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines inscription here.

Visit the Salt mine website here.

If you have a little extra time in Poland after the conference and can travel further afield…


Old City of Zamość

Distance from Kraków: 308k, (approx. 3h 40m by car)


Often referred to as the Pearl of the Renaissance, the Old City of Zamość was founded in the 16th Century by Chancellor Jan Zamoysky and eminent Italian architect Bernardo Morando. Architecturally inspired by Italian traditions and theories, the town was built as an economic centre for trade. Today the town retains its original layout and is a picturesque example of an ‘ideal’ city.

Read more about the Old City of Zamość World Heritage inscription here.

Postcards from Poland is our official conference blog, designed to provide more information about the Urban Jewish Heritage Conference, the history and historical sites of the local area, and tips for places to visit during your trip to Poland. If you have any tips to share, or stories to tell, please do get in touch by emailing heritageconference@contacts.bham.ac.uk


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