Since the Elblag Canal was recently featured on Michael Palin’s BBC travel series then this “wonder of Poland” may not be as much of a secret as it was a few years ago. However, this engineering marvel is not to be missed if you’re in this part of the country (Elblag is around a 2 hr drive from Gdansk in the north of Poland). To accommodate the height difference between separate waterways it was decided that the use of canal locks wouldn’t solve the problem. So instead a wide track gauge was laid on the grassy hill and the canal boat is hauled out of the water by a series of pulleys and pulled across the grass until it reaches the water on the other side where it reverts to it’s usual function of being a boat !
Located in north west Poland (not far from Szczecin) is a pine forest that looks like it came right out of a Hans Christian Andersen story. Around four hundred trees in the forest have been formed with a 90° horizontal bend in its trunk before rising vertically again. The trees are believed to be about eighty years old and although there is no explanation for this freak of nature one widely held belief is that the trees were shaped this way by human hands (possibly by carpenters wanting to use the wood for furniture making)
Dwarf hunting has become very popular in the Polish city of Wroclaw. Before the politically correct brigade start having panic attacks “dwarf hunting” in Wroclaw takes the form of spotting how many of the fifty or so dwarf statues you can actually find dotted around the Old Town of Wroclaw. Each of the dwarfs represents a different aspect of Polish life and culture and each dwarf is unique. Some of the dwarfs are easier to find than others with one being by the river’s edge hunched over his fishing rod whilst another one can be found climbing a lamp post !
The Kosciuszko Mound in Krakow is a large man made mound constructed in honour of Tadeusz Kosciuszko (a Polish war hero). Built in 1823 it was constructed using soil from the battlefields where Kosciuszko fought. Snake-like paths lead to the top of the mound and as long as you don’t suffer from vertigo then you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Krakow and the surrounding area. In later years fortifications were built around the mound which was used as a strategic lookout post. A chapel and a museum are also part of the complex.
Located in the town of Szymbark, Northern Poland, the Polish timber construction company Danmar have created an upside down house. Danmar specialise in producing timber frame, wooden houses and have created a model village of examples of their work on a 1:1 scale. The businessman behind Danmar decided to build an upside down house as a statement of Poland’s unique stand against the Communist regime. From a marketing point of view Danmar struck gold as the upside down house is now a popular tourist attraction with thousands of visitors entering the model village. The house is constructed from wood and is not only upside down but is also built on an incline. Entering the house many tourists complain of feeling mildly seasick and dizzy as all the strange angles in the house make it very difficult to find your balance. Workers who constructed the house had to take regular breaks as they also suffered from the strange sensations of working in a house that’s been turned on it’s head.
2. The Crooked House of Sopot
Found on the middle of Monte Cassino Street in Sopot, the Crooked House has been delighting tourists for years. The facade has a vaguely human face to it and evokes the imagery of Munch’s painting “The Scream”. The building looks like it is melting in the midday sun and is one of the most photographed buildings in Poland. Inside the building are a variety of bars and restaurants which disappointingly don’t heavily reflect the style that the exterior boldly promises.
1. The “Anonymous Pedestrians” of Wroclaw
Located about 1.5 kms south of the Old Town of Wroclaw stands a piece of sculpturethat stays in the memory for ever, Known as the “anonymous pedestrians” this life statues of fourteen people represents the people who disappeared during the introduction of Martial Law in 1981. Designed by Jerzy Kalina, there are seven statues on one side of the road crossing slowly disappearing underground whilst on the other side of the road another seven pedestrians emerge from the pavement.