Everything here, including the ornate altar and the grand chandelier, is hewn from this underworld of salt. It's bottoms up! Auschwitz was the biggest and most notorious concentration camp in the Nazi system. Two chimneys connected by a brick duct provided a little heat. You’ll see legends from the days of King Kazimierz, when one-third of Poland’s income came from these precious deposits: the famous astronomer Copernicus, and even the region’s favorite son, Pope John Paul II. However, the top-notch Museum of the History of Polish Jews has rejuvenated the area, making it even more of a magnet for those interested in this chapter of Polish history. Nineteenth-century houses — the few that survive — often sport colorful stripes. It was here that families from all over Europe were torn apart forever. Birkenau is on a much bigger scale and mostly outdoors, with the infamous guard tower, a vast field with ruins of barracks, a few tourable rough barracks, the notorious "dividing platform," a giant monument flanked by remains of destroyed crematoria, and a prisoner processing facility called "the Sauna.". Rick Steves' Europe. Before posting, please read our Community Guidelines. Each inmate had an ID number, a barrack number, and a bed number. Travel with Rick on this video guide to Poland and find out what to do on your next trip. My Account. We spent two weeks in Poland last summer and enjoyed it immensely. Several sights in Warsaw commemorate those who were murdered, and those who fought back. Rick: Oh my! Rick: Yeah. The charm of today's Kraków lies in its medieval roots. Hopelessly outgunned by the Nazis, the uprising was crushed, the ghetto was demolished, and its residents were killed. Oct 1, 2004. But Auschwitz victims and their families want tourists to come here, to experience the scale and the monstrosity of the place in human terms, in hope that the Holocaust will never be forgotten. With its bubbly Baroque and cobbled charm, exciting Kraków is emerging as the "next Prague" — a vibrant city that's a surprise hit with many first-time visitors. Go 1,000 feet underground in the vast Wieliczka Salt Mine, near Kraków, to tour the inactive mine and see the statues and chapels the religious miners carved out of the black salt over the centuries. It was our warm-up. Episode 310: Poland Rediscovered: Kraków, Auschwitz, and Warsaw. Then the inmates piled into the "shower room." We start in Kraków — it's like the Boston of Poland: a charming and vital city buzzing with history, college students, and tourists. Virtually everything you see is rebuilt. Episode 313: Sevilla. the Mongols — swept in from Asia and destroyed Kraków. Rick Steves TV Episodes. During the partition in the 19th century, we didn't even show on the map but we survived — thanks to being Polish, and thanks to being Catholics. If you're going to remember one Polish king, remember Kazimierz the Great, who ruled Poland from Kraków in the 14th century. Though the sight is a bit overrated, it's unique and practically obligatory if you're in Kraków for at least two days. Former cellblocks tell the story. With the expectation of help from Soviet tanks which were gathering just across the river, it seemed like the right time to attack. Downtown has a Gotham City ambience — with busy boulevards, expansive squares, and blocky buildings. keywords Rate. Deep beneath the ground, the mine is filled with sculptures that miners have lovingly carved out of the salt. He was a great warrior, diplomat, patron of the arts, and womanizer. Kaisa: Do you know how to drink vodka? Post questions and answers about travel in Poland. The big, round defensive fort standing outside the wall is a barbican. Season 10 Episode 1006 | 25m 2s | Video has closed captioning. Kazimierz the Great turned the Cloth Hall into a permanent structure in the 14th century. Video: Watch Czech Republic Beyond Prague, an episode of the Rick Steves' Europe TV show. Rick Steves' Europe. If you think you're good at chess, challenge one of these guys. Share your comments on Rick Steves’ Europe TV shows with other travelers and with Rick! 2. It was a "gift" from Stalin in the 1950s that the people of Warsaw couldn't refuse. Go 1,000 feet underground in the vast Wieliczka Salt Mine, near Kraków, to tour the inactive mine and see the statues and chapels the religious miners carved out of the black salt over the centuries. keywords Art Industrialization Poland. But the most powerful Holocaust memorial — I think in all of Europe — is the concentration camp here at Auschwitz, an hour's drive from Kraków. 30. see our FAQ. The bricks are worn smooth by countless inmates who sat here to catch a little warmth in the middle of a bitter Polish winter. Rick: So, vodka has long been part of Polish culture? Reservations are required — whether visiting on your own or joining a guided tour. A castle has stood here since the 11th century. Before the war, Warsaw's Old Town Square was one of the most happening spots in Central Europe. Today, while note quite as slick and polished as Prague's Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz's assortment of synagogues, cemeteries, and museums helps visitors appreciate the neighborhood's rich history. It's a member of the European Union, its economy is thriving, and it's never been more fun to visit. Kraków remains the country's political, economic, intellectual, industrial — oh man, I'm almost there. Once they saw these blue lines, village boys were welcome to come a courtin'. And salt preserves everything. Kaisa: Ok, first of all, na zdrowie (toast). 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