25 Interesting Facts About Poland That Most People Don’t Know

I was born and raised in Poland. Here’s what the tourism board doesn’t tell you about Poland and neither does Google since quite often Google tends to forget about Poland’s achievements (start googling and you’ll see what I mean). These facts can make your trip to Poland way more interesting. Here are weird and interesting facts about Poland and things about Poland that most people don’t know about.

1. Poland is the 9th Largest Country in Europe.

(8th not Including Russia) Poland isn’t a small country, it’s actually one of the largest ones. Poland is bigger than Italy and the UK.

2. The name “Poland” (Polska) Has a Meaning.

It originates from the name of the tribe Polanie, which means “people living in open fields”.

3. Polish History is Very Complicated

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you might start reading Polish Medieval History. You’ll get confused many times (try reading something on the period from 1138 to 1320).

Later times also haven’t been easy for Poland. The country has been invaded or has fought for freedom in insurrections over 40 times. Poland even disappeared from world maps between 1772 and 1795.

4. Poland’s Consitution was the 2nd in the World

Poland adopted its first written constitution in the spring of 1791, which was the 2nd in the world valid legal document of the kind. However, it was only in effect for only 14 months and 3 weeks before Poland was in partitions for over 100 years.

5. Polish Engineer Invented the Modern Kerosene Lamp

In 1853, Ignacy Lukasiewicz introduced the first modern street lamp from in Europe. His lamp inventions were, however, first used in Lviv in Ukraine. There is still a street in Warsaw that uses the same street lamps until today.

6. During the WWII Warsaw Was Almost Completely Destroyed and Had to be Rebuilt Completely

The Old Town that you can see in Warsaw isn’t the actual Old Town from before the war. The original has been completely bombed at in the 40s and Poles rebuilt it after the war using Bernardo Bellotto’s detailed paintings. That’s why now looks as it did in the 14th century, rather than the 20th.

7. Marie Curie Was Actually Polish

Marie Curie, the woman who discovered Polon and Rad, wasn’t French, but Polish. Her name was Marie Sklodowska before she married a Frenchman named Pierre Curie. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences.

Joseph Conrad was actually Polish too. His real name was Teodor Józef Konrad Nałęcz-Korzeniowski. You’re welcome.

8. Poland Has Beaches, Mountains, Forests, Deserts, and Lakes

Poland has a very diverse nature. Almost 800 km of the seashore and a few mountain chains (Carpathian, Sudet and Świętokrzyskie). Poland also has the only Central-European desert, Pustynia Błędowska.

There are also dunes in the Pomerania region that are a curiosity on a European scale. So are wetlands in Biebrzański National Park. And islands in Woliński National Park. 

9. Traditional Polish Last Names Change Depending on the Sex

Names that end with –ski/ska or –cka/cki work like adjectives and need to match the gender in Polish. So, if your father’s name is Kowalski, if you’re a female you’ll be called Kowalska. All Polish surnames in the US are a male version.

10. Europe’s Heaviest Animals Live in Poland

The 380,000-acre (150,000-hectare) Białowieża Primeval Forest in Poland is Europe’s last ancient forest and home to 800 European bison, Europe’s heaviest land animals.

11. Poland Used to Have the World’s Tallest Structure

The Warsaw Radio Mast in Konstantynow was the world’s tallest structure from 1974, until its collapse in 1991. It was the second tallest structure ever built after Burj Khalifa, completed in 2010. The mast was 646.38 meters (2,120.7 ft) tall.

12. Poland Also Has the World’s Biggest Castle

Poland has an impressive 16 World Heritage Sites and among them the biggest castle in the world – Malbork. Measured by the area. Prague Castle often claims to be world’s largest, but it’s not since it’s not a single area.

13. Poland Has Its Own Version of Thai Songkran

If you’re heading to Poland for Easter, prepare to get wet. Easter Monday is known as Smigus Dyngus when everyone is chasing one another with water guns and buckets. Traditionally, boys throw water over girls and spank them with pussy willow branches and the girls fight back.

14. Wearing a Hat Indoors is Considered Rude in Poland

If you wear a hat inside someone’s home or church it’s a sign of disrespect. While young people generally don’t mind, the older generation might feel uncomfortable.

15. Kissing Woman’s Hand is Still in Fashion in Poland

Polish men generally still tend to observe “the chivalry protocol”. Don’t be surprised if you see this, upon the first introduction between total strangers.

16. Poles Celebrate a Name Day

In addition to birthdays, Poles celebrate their name day or imieniny, which is the day commemorating the Saint they are named after. The names associated with each day is listed in all calendars in Poland, so the Name Day is often more important than a birthday because everyone remembers about it.

17. Polish TV is Dubbed, by One Man.

If you’re planning on watching some foreign movies on TV in Poland, you might want to reconsider. Foreign movies and series are dubbed, but not by Polish actors, but a single man reading parts of everyone (including women and children). The original version is still there, so viewers can hear the first two seconds of each sentence (and faintly in the background later), before the reader starts saying the same thing in Polish.

18. Poland is World’s Biggest Exporter of Amber

Amber is huge in Poland, so souvenirs and jewelry made of it are gorgeous. You might want to pick some up during your visit.

19. Mushrooming Is a Popular Family Activity in Poland

Going to the forest to pick wild mushrooms at the end of the summer is a popular activity for many people in Poland. Kids are taught how to distinguish an edible mushroom from a poisonous one early on.

20. You Can Still Eat at the Europe’s Oldest Restaurant in Wroclaw

Located in Wrocław, the “Piwnica Swidnicka” is the oldest restaurant in Europe, open since 1275. You can still eat there today.

21. Buying an Even Number of Flowers for Funerals is Considered a Faux Pas

On the other hand, chrysanthemums, white lilies, and red carnations are considered the funeral flowers so make sure that you don’t buy them for other occasions. Some people take this very seriously.

22. The Unofficial Traditional Polish Food is Zapiekanka

It’s a baguette cut in half, topped with cheese and mushrooms and doused in garlic mayo and ketchup. Lots of ketchup.

23. Latex Condoms Were Invented by a Pole

First latex condom was invented in 1912 by Julius Fromm, who made the rubber ones thinner and better. Ironically, until these dates politicians in Poland are arguing about which methods of anticonception should be allowed, if any at all.

24. Poland Has Its Own Version of Valentine’s Day

Kupała or Wianki is celebrated on June 21st, the ‘Feast of St. John the Baptist’ day. Men jump over bonfires and, women hope for wreaths. Wreaths with candles on one side of the river are floated to the other side and if one comes to you, you’ll be lucky in love.

25. Poland is One of the Most Religious Country in Europe

While Poland doesn’t have a ‘Pope Channel’ on TV (I’m not sure where some editors of other articles took this from?), it does have a popular Catholic TV Station and a Catholic Radio. Religion also isn’t separated from the State. Not to mention that Poland is a proud owner of the tallest statue of Jesus in the world. Move over Christ the Redeemer…

25 Facts About Poland

Does anyone know any more interesting and fun facts about Poland?

Categories Poland

26 thoughts on “25 Interesting Facts About Poland That Most People Don’t Know”

  1. I didn’t know that about Warsaw Old Town!! How crazy/amazing. Also I did wonder why there were so many Amber souvenirs everywhere haha. Loved reading this post 🙂

  2. Wow! Thanks for posting this great article it has so much amazing info about Poland, I find it really helpful!

  3. Poland is a beautiful country with a great history, despite the hardships it managed to survive. For this there is really a lot of great places to visit, a huge number of monuments, I recommend Krakow and Wroclaw above all, old markets make a huge impression, I like these countries the most, people are also nice, greetings.

  4. I am a typical American man who thought I knew a lot about everything. Married to a native Polish woman in US I have made 5 previous trips to your Beautiful country. My next trip is 2 weeks from today for 5 weeks. The Polish people are some of the most friendly kind welcoming anywhere. You have described areas of Poland as I have experienced them wonderfully. I am always looking for new things to see in Poland , so thank you for your suggestions and remarks of what to see. I have been to Warsaw-Krakow-Tourin-Zakopane-Kolobrzge-Rzesew- Chestowhowa-( please pardon my miss-spelling of your cities) and many of the smaller towns south and east Poland. I have never been to western Poland and am looking forward to seeing Posnan and the the areas around the German border. Also Greetings form the Polish (American) community in Chicago. ( One of the largest Polish populated cities outside of Poland) Thank You

  5. Poland is a beautiful country with a great history, despite the hardships it managed to survive. For this there is really a lot of great places to visit, a huge number of monuments, I recommend Krakow and Wroclaw above all, old markets make a huge impression, I like these countries the most, people are also nice, greetings.

  6. I have never visited this great place. But I love their culture and traditions. Your post really contains great information about Poland. Thanks for sharing such useful post and appreciate your hard work.

  7. Another dish I would add is pierogi and I know the best place to eat them at – Pierogarnia “Stary Torun” in Torun, and Stary Mlyn” in Wroclaw and Bydgoszcz where we’re heading in a week, 2,5 years after we’d been there last time.

    And yes, Poland is a huge beautiful country. We lived there for 2years and, though travelling almost every weekend, didn’t manage to cover it all.

    How often do you visit your country?

  8. I visited Gdansk and the surrounding area in June 2018 (as a female solo traveller,I might add!) and I was mindblown! So beautiful and so much to do. I didn’t even visit Malbork as I’m not a big fan of castles and I focused on other things (e.g WW2 museum was outstanding, I spent over 5 hours there!) so I could have filled even more days.
    I went to Warsaw years ago and looking forward to enjoy more of this country!
    Oh I even ate zapiekanka 😀

  9. As I’m a polish person myself I know some stuff too. For example on Christmas we don’t have a thing called ‘Boxing Day’ we just open the presents the same day they appear. I’m not sure if in America you have Religion class I lived in York for 5 years and moved back to Poland but they didn’t have it either, Is it only in Poland? In my own experience Poland has the most beautiful surroundings like Forests.

  10. You are mistaken. In Polish constitution there is an article stating, that the Republic of Poland is a secular country. So there is a division of religion and state.
    Controversion comes from the fact, that reality looks different. Any government in the history of Poland couldn’t really separate religion and state from one another (except form the socialist period).
    Nowadays there is a significant difference between those, who are recorded as Roman Catholic (because they were baptised in that faith) and those, who are really practising religion.

  11. Nice post! I’ll have the chance to visit it. And it’s Really GOOD. I love their culture and traditions. It is such a beautiful part of this world.

  12. Poland disappeared from the map of the Europe not only between 1772 -1795, but between 1795 – 1918 didn’t even exist due to partitions.

    • Sure, but different parts of Poland existed under partitions and different names. Similar things happened with many other countries.

  13. I do appreciate your education about your Country. But i will love to school at your country and also work there but don’t know how to get the chance to apply for school.

  14. Oh And another fact you didn’t know about is probably this: Lviv, in which first kerosene lamps were introduced was one of the main cities for polish culture (next to Wilno and Cracow)

  15. Fat Thursday is one of the more known celebrated days in Poland. In big cities the best Pączkarnias (the donut bakeries) are so occupied by customers this day! It’s hard to buy at least one pączek then hahahhah

    Btw. On village’s and in smaller towns the traditions are more followed. I’m myself from a village (now studying on University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań) and when I talk with my friends about some of the traditions my family follows they are usually surprised.

    For example, I know the Wianki event and I participated in it few times, but many of my fellow schoolmates didn’t hear about it.

    Another interesting thing is that, many of the Parishes celebrate their Saint’s nameday in special way. When there is a nameday of the Saint for example Valentin, then the Parish of St. Valentin will have a special Mass and the village in which the Church is placed will most likely make an even where many sellers will have tents/stalls with food, toys, games, beer etc. And there’d probabably be a scene where someone (solo or band) would play music, most likely disco polo or some traditional music.

    Then there are often (not in every village, but in some of them) parties at OSP’s building. OSP is a short for Volunteer Fire Department (Ochotnicza Straż Pożarna).

    Simce it’s volunteer people need to make money for the building and other things so the parties are for the OSP to gain some money and for people to celebrate. There is usually a band or dj playing music and a place with some beers and snacks to buy. It’s common in villages only but it’s still interesting I think.

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