Welcome to the Poland Portal — Witaj w Portalu o Polsce

Cityscape of Kraków, Poland's former capital
Cityscape of Kraków, Poland's former capital
Coat of arms of Poland

Poland is a country in Central Europe, bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north. It is an ancient nation whose history as a state began near the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century when it united with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation. In a series of agreements in the late 18th century, Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. It regained independence as the Second Polish Republic in the aftermath of World War I only to lose it again when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. The nation lost over six million citizens in the war, following which it emerged as the communist People's Republic of Poland under strong Soviet influence within the Eastern Bloc. A westward border shift followed by forced population transfers after the war turned a once multiethnic country into a mostly homogeneous nation state. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union called Solidarity (Solidarność) that over time became a political force which by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A shock therapy program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of NATO and the European Union.

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Constitution of 3 May 1791 by Jan Matejko
Constitution of 3 May 1791 is a large Romantic oil painting by Jan Matejko. It was painted in 1891 to commemorate the centenary of the Polish Constitution of 1791, a milestone in the history of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the high point of the Polish Enlightenment. Set in the late afternoon of 3 May 1791, the canvas shows a procession from Warsaw's Royal Castle, where the Constitution has just been adopted by the Great Sejm, to St. John's Collegiate Church. While the procession was a historical event, Matejko took many artistic liberties, such as including persons who were not in fact present or had died earlier, because he intended the painting to be a synthesis of the final years of the Commonwealth. Like many works by the same artist, the picture presents a grand scene populated with numerous historic figures, including King Stanislaus Augustus; Marshals of the Great Sejm, Stanisław Małachowski and Kazimierz Nestor Sapieha; and co-authors of the Constitution such as Hugo Kołłątaj and Ignacy Potocki. Altogether, some twenty individuals have been identified by modern historians. Originally displayed in Lviv, the work now hangs at the Royal Castle of Warsaw.


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Zishe Breitbart
Credit: National Photo Co.

Siegmund "Zishe" Breitbart, shown here pulling a heavy weight using only his teeth, was a Polish-Jewish strongman and circus performer who was known as the "Strongest Man in the World" during the 1920s. He was widely popular in both Europe and the U.S., but died at the age of 32 after an accident during a performance.

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Ulica Floriańska (St. Florian Street) in Kraków

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Stanisław Żółkiewski
Stanisław Żółkiewski (1547–1620) was a Polish magnate and military commander who fought against Sweden, Muscovy, the Ottoman Empire and the Tatars on the southern and eastern borders of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. He occupied a number of high-ranking posts, including voivode of Kijów (now Kiev, Ukraine), grand chancellor of the Crown, and grand hetman of the Crown. His best-known victory was against combined Russian and Swedish forces in the battle of Klushino in 1610, following which the Poles seized and occupied Moscow. He died in the battle of Ţuţora against the Ottomans, after refusing to retreat, his heroic death further boosting his fame. He is seen as one of the most accomplished commanders in the military history of early modern Poland.


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Izrael Poznański's Palace in Łódź

Łódź, located in central Poland, is one of the country's largest cities. Although dating back as far as the 14th century, the city's growth began under Russian rule in the 1820s as immigrants were attracted by its booming textile industry. Nicknamed "promised land", its character was shaped by its Polish, Jewish, German and Russian population. During the Nazi German occupation, it was renamed Litzmannstadt and became the site of the second largest Jewish ghetto. After World War II, Łódź became the principal center of Polish filmmaking and home of the National Film School. As textile industry collapsed following the fall of communism, Łódź has attracted investment in the IT sector, from companies including Dell and Infosys.

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Holidays and observances in February 2020
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