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Phespirit goes to Poland
Wrocław, Poznań & Szczecin     January/February 2008


Map of Poland

1 Wrocław

Phespirit can heartily recommend Wrocław to anybody looking for a weekend city-break destination that's a bit off the beaten track.

The old city centre is quite beautiful, and large enough to be worth spending a few days exploring. It has museums and galleries and baroque university buildings and a neat little cluster of churches in the old Ostrów Tumski district, just a short walk to the north. The whole city is built upon islands set within a network of canals that are all fed by the River Odra. It is said that in Europe only Venice, Amsterdam and St. Petersburg have more bridges than Wrocław.

All just a tantalising hour and a half's flying-time from London.

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2 Poznań

Of the three cities that Phespirit visited, Poznań proved best value for art history. This might not be everybody's cup of tea but, whilst he doesn't know much about it, Phespirit knows what he likes.

In the National Museum, Phespirit liked "Poacher Skinning a Roe Deer" by Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski. Just as Phespirit has nurtured an appeciation for the Art of Finland, so too he appreciated Polish landscape painting showing scenes far removed from the vistas of Italy and Holland that dominate most major international galleries.

Poznań Town Hall has a distinct style all of its own. The museum inside is filled with fascinating objects, none of which are labelled in English (fair enough since few if any British museums bother to label their exhibits in Polish). If nothing else, the fancy ceilings in a couple of rooms are admirable without any need for explanation.

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3 Szczecin

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."
Winston Churchill, from his speech 'The Sinews of Peace'
Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri - 5th March 1946

Szczecin - German name: Stettin - has endured many changes of fortune and status throughout a turbulent history, yet for Phespirit it will always remain the northern point of Churchill's "iron curtain". Since the curtain was ripped open he has remained curious about those cities that once marked its extremes .....

Falling within Italian territory, sunbaked Trieste inevitably enjoys a reputation for glamour and sophistication, whereas poor Szczecin is often written-off as grim, industrial and charmless. This was not the Szczecin that Phespirit found, however. From near-complete devastation in World War II, it has now recovered sufficiently well to merit the marking-out of a 7km City Tourist Route around all its restored sights. It's not quite colourful and vibrant but it's certainly interesting, and worthy of a bit more attention than it receives.

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  1. Wrocław
  2. Poznań
  3. Szczecin
images 1
images 2
Wrocław Poznań Szczecin