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Wild Poland: Enter The World Of The ‘Witcher’

Wild Poland: Enter The World Of The ‘Witcher’
Aleksandra ‘Sandy’
Aleksandra ‘Sandy’
Published

The ‘Witcher’ is one of world’s hottest gaming hits in the past couple years. Based on the famed Polish fantasy series of the same title, written by Andrzej Sapkowski, its action takes place in an imaginary land strongly reminiscent of medieval Poland. If you can’t get enough of the game and want to immerse yourself in the Witcher’s world, visit Poland and sense the Slavic vibe that inspired the novels and the game. These five places will make you feel like you’re a monster-hunter on the trail!

1. Kraków – the City of Kings

Kraków is the first place to visit if you enjoy medieval surroundings. A hub of legendary stories, it is central to the Wawel Dragon tale – one that inspired the ’Bounds of Reason’ chapter from the ‘Sword of Destiny’ book by Sapkowski. Go and see Wawel Castle, a stunning, eclectic fortress and home to many generations of Polish kings. Then, have a walk by the Vistula River and make sure you see the famous statue of the dragon. It’s especially loved by children, as it blows real fire!

Allow yourself a lot of time to wander around the Old Town. The large Main Square and the net of narrow, cobbled streets form a medieval urban plan that have remained unchanged for centuries. Enjoy the bright colours of the palazzos, have a local craft beer in one of the pubs, and, if you feel like you want to dive deeper into the history of the place, visit the ‘Rynek Underground’ museum. The interactive exhibition will allow you to experience medieval Kraków in every detail. While in the museum, look out for the tomb of the suspected vampire – yes, the vampires in the ‘Witcher’ have historical counterparts, too!

Rynek Underground - Historical Museum of the City of Kraków

Address: Rynek Główny 1, 33-332 Kraków

Price: 19 PLN (5 USD)

Opening Hours: 10 am - 10 pm. Closed on public holidays

Website: Rynek Underground

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2. The Trail of the Eagles' Nests

Did you have fun while exploring the secrets of Kaer Morhen, the ancient seat of the Witchers? If yes, you will love the eerie, ruined castles of the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests. A picturesque, rocky upland spreading eastwards of Kraków, known among the locals by the intriguing name of Jura, it is the setting for a chain of medieval fortresses beautifully settled among the white rocks. The most spectacular ones are named Ogrodzieniec, Tenczyn, and Olsztyn. While obviously smaller than Kaer Morhen, each of these castles has its unique ghost stories and legends. You can see several of them or just one, depending on how much time you wish to spend here. Remember to bring good shoes, for Jura has quite craggy terrain, so there will be some hiking involved!

Ogrodzieniec Castle

Address: ul. Zamkowa, 42-440 Podzamcze

Price: 12 PLN (3 USD)

Opening Hours: 9 am - 8 pm in the summer (varies according to seasons)

Contact: [email protected]

Access: The nearest railway station is Zaw­ier­cie. In order to reach the town of Podzam­cze, you need to take bus no. 7, or one of the private buses that passes through Podzam­cze. The bus stop is located on Sikorskiego Street, very close to the railway station (around 100 metres / 328 feet away)

Nearby Food: Karczma Rycerska (‘A Knight’s Tavern’) serving traditional Polish food is located right in the castle

Website: Zamek Ogrodzieniec (Polish only)

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3. Gdańsk – the free city

If the port climate of Novigrad is your thing, you will love Gdańsk, a city on the coast of the Baltic Sea and one of the northernmost points of Poland. Throughout the ages, Gdańsk used to be a vibrant, multicultural trade centre independent of any state. And indeed, you’ll see that in the bright architecture of the Old Town: it has more in common with German and Dutch styles than with the ones you saw in Kraków.

Have a stroll around the Old Town and enjoy the stunning colours of the houses. Try on some jewellery made of local amber and look out for the famous, medieval port crane. Do you remember seeing the cranes of Novigrad? This one looks exactly the same!

What’s more, if you’re interested in modern history, make sure you go to the legendary shipyard – this is the place where the Solidarity Movement started. It was the spark of freedom, which eventually led to the downfall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

European Solidarity Centre (The museum in the Gdańsk Shipyard)

Address: pl. Solidarności 1, Gdańsk

Price: 17 PLN (4.30 USD)

Opening Hours: 10 am - 6 pm from Oct to Apr, 10 am - 8 pm from May to Sep. Closed on public holidays

Access: Enter through the historical Gate № 2 of Gdańsk Shipyard. You can reach it by multiple trams and buses (details on the website)

Contact: [email protected]

Website: European Solidarity Centre

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4. Mid-Western Poland: Gniezno and Biskupin

If you’re visiting Poznań, the biggest city of the Greater Poland region, consider taking a day trip to see either Gniezno or Biskupin, the two cradles of the nation.

Gniezno was Poland’s first capital city, but lost this honour to Krakow in the first half of the 11th century. While visiting its medieval cathedral, make sure you listen to the bloody legend of St Adalbert, one of the patron saints of Poland, and see the ‘Door of Gniezno’, a precious, medieval work of art and a testimony to the legendary times.

Alternatively, you can take a trip to Biskupin. It is an archaeological site with a life-size reconstruction of a fortified settlement from the Iron Age. Even though it’s all ancient, it’s full of life: you will see artisans dressed up in outfits from the period as they craft their products according to ancient techniques. You can buy hand-made items, if you fancy, and be explained all the details of the medieval craftsmanship right on the spot.

Biskupin

Address: Biskupin 17, 88-410 Gąsawa

Price: 10 PLN (2.50 USD)

Opening Hours: 8 am - 8 pm daily

Duration: around 2 hours required

Access: If you’re using public transport, first you need to go to the town of Żnin. There, you can either take a bus to Biskupin or use the narrow-gauge railway, which will take you directly to the archaeological park

Contact: [email protected]

Website: The Archaeological Museum of Biskupin

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5. Mountainous national parks: Karkonosze, Tatra, Holy Cross Mountains

Perhaps you actually feel bored with comely towns and yearn to retreat into nature. If so, worry not, as there are several wildish places to make you feel like you’re a Witcher on the trail.

If you’re travelling around Southern Poland, choose one of the mountainous parks. You can visit Karkonosze National Park: its mysterious forests were used as the setting for the 2001 ‘Witcher’ TV series. You can stroll around the Świętokrzyskie Mountains (Holy Cross Mountains) National Park. Remember the Sabbath scene from the game? Well, you will find Łysa Góra right there! And, if you’re a fan of steep, dramatic slopes, choose Tatra National Park. Hiking there can be challenging, but the views from the mountain top will be a fit reward for your efforts.

Karkonosze National Park

Address: Chałubińskiego 23, 58-570 Jelenia Góra

Price: 6 PLN (1.50 USD)

Opening Hours: From down to dusk. May be closed on certain winter days if the weather conditions are hard

Access: You can access the park from multiple locations. Check the map of the trails for details

Contact: [email protected]

Website: Karkonoski Park Narodowy (Polish only)

Tatra National Park

Address: ul. Kuźnice 1, 34-500 Zakopane

Price: 5 PLN (1.25 USD)

Opening Hours: From down to dusk. May be closed on certain winter days if the weather conditions are hard

Access: You can access the park from multiple locations in Zakopane

Contact: [email protected]

Website: Tatrzański Park Narodowy (Polish only)

Holy Cross Mountains National Park

Address: ul. Suchedniowska 4, 26-010 Bodzentyn

Price: 7 PLN (1.75 USD)

Opening Hours: From down to dusk

Access: You can access the park from multiple locations around Kielce and Bodzentyn

Contact: [email protected]

Website: Świętokrzyski National Park

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Wild Poland awaits you!

Have a tremendous holiday and enjoy your Witcher-inspired itinerary. Listen to the local legends, discover the secrets of each place, and immerse yourself in the rich, colourful folklore. Many parts of Poland still remain little-known and unexplored. Be the first to venture into the mysterious wilderness, like Geralt would do!

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