Home to breathtaking landscapes like Morskie Oko and vibrant cities like Krakow, Poland is a beautiful destination that’s steeped in history. There are plenty of fun facts most people don’t know about Poland, though.
For example, did you know that all TV programs in Poland are dubbed by one male voice? It’s pretty funny when you’re not used to it! Or did you know that the highest structure in the world used to be in Poland?
From interesting facts about Polish culture to famous Polish inventions and more, you will find some of the most interesting fun facts about Poland in this post.
Let’s dive right into it!
The Most Interesting and Fun Facts About Poland
1. Polish TV is dubbed by one person
This is probably one of the most funny facts about Poland!
I will never forget the first time I turned on the TV in the country, it was hilarious. Foreign movies have a voiceover that’s done by one person, which is usually a man.
The translation is read out loud while you can still hear the original language in the background, and no matter who speaks – a man, a woman or a child – it’s always the same male voice that’s speaking.
2. There’s a Polish Sahara
You may not expect it but there’s a desert in Poland!
The Błędów Desert, which is dubbed the Polish Sahara, can be found between Kraków and Katowice. This desert is Central Europe’s biggest accumulation of loose sand away from any sea.
The Błędów Desert came into existence through a combination of natural and unnatural factors. In the 13th century, the forest that was here was cut down for silver and lead mining. This revealed an enormous layer of sand, which had been deposited by a melting glacier approximately a century before.
3. Going to university is free in Poland
Education at state institutions of higher education is free for Polish citizens. International students who study in Poland will usually have to pay for their university studies, though.
Speaking of universities, Jagiellonian University is Poland’s oldest one. It was founded in 1364, and it’s interesting to note that that makes it one of the oldest universities in the entire world!
4. The world’s largest castle is in Poland
Malbork Castle, which is located near the town of Malbork in Poland’s Pomorskie region, is the largest in the world.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. These knights used Malbork Castle as their headquarters to defeat enemies of the country. Because of the growing number of knights, the castle was expanded several times, hence its enormous size.
5. Polish people put an extra plate on the Christmas table
At Christmas, Polish people put an extra plate on the table for an unexpected visitor, which is one of my favourite fun facts about Poland!
Poles are proud of their hospitality and they have an old saying that says “a guest at home is God at home”.
6. People have a holiday for their name in Poland
On Polish calendars, every day is marked with two common Polish names. The day a person’s name is marked is known as that person’s name day.
On that day, they will receive gifts, flowers and congratulations from their friends, family and colleagues – a little like on a birthday. Name days are actually more important than birthdays in Poland!
This tradition is known as “imieniny” in Polish, and it’s celebrated throughout the country except in the regions of Upper Silesia and Kashubia.
7. There are 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Poland
It’s interesting to note that most of Poland’s Unesco World Heritage Sites are located in and around the city of Krakow, which is one of the best cities to visit in Poland.
These include the historic centre of Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine, Bochnia Salt Mine, the cities of Tarnowskie Gory and Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Auschwitz Concentration Camp and the wooden churches of Southern Malopolska.
Malbork Castle and Bialowieza Forest, which are also featured in this list, are some other famous Polish World Heritage Sites.
8. Marie Curie was Polish
While many people know Marie Curie, most of them don’t know she was Polish.
Marie Curie, who was born Maria Skłodowska, was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and the only person to win it twice!
She’s most famous for discovering radium and polonium and for her research on radioactivity and the treatment of cancer.
9. Europe’s oldest forest is in Poland
Bialowieza Forest, located on the border between Poland and Belarus, is the only piece of forest that remains of Europe’s original primaeval forest, which makes it a very unique place. It’s a Unesco World Heritage Site that’s protected by the EU conservation law.
This forest is also home to the largest European bison population in Europe. This is Europe’s biggest land mammal.
10. Poland is the most religious country in Europe
Another one of the most interesting facts about Poland is that this is the most religious European country. Approximately 87% of Poles claim to be Roman Catholic.
This being said, there are fewer and fewer people who attend church regularly.
The abortion laws in Poland are also one of the strictest in Europe, and in 2021, Poland enforced a near-total abortion ban.
11. Pope John Paul II was Polish
John Paul II, whose original name was Karol Józef Wojtyła, was the first pope in 455 years who didn’t come from Italy but from Poland. He was the head of the church from 1978 until he died in 2005.
You will find many statues of Pope John Paul II in Poland, including a giant statue of 13.8 m (45 ft) and if you want to, you can even visit this pope’s family home in Wadowice.
12. In Poland, surnames change according to the gender
It’s a pretty interesting fact that, in Poland, the surnames of men end with -ski and -cki, whereas women’s surnames end with -ska or -cka.
So for example, you have Mr. Zielinski and Mrs. Zielinska.
13. During WWII, the Poles saved the highest amount of Jews
One of the most interesting facts about Poland that many people don’t know is that the Polish people saved the highest amount of Jews during WWII.
Poland was affected badly by the war, and around 1.1 million people were massacred by the Nazis at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.
The Poles are also the nationality that saved the most lives during World War II. Helping Jews was punishable by death, and approximately 50,000 people were executed for doing so.
14. Nicolaus Copernicus was from Poland
The famous astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus (or Mikolaj Kopernik) was Polish.
Copernicus was born in Toruń in 1473. He’s most famous for discovering the heliocentric theory; the astronomical model in which the earth and planets revolve around the sun at the centre of the universe.
15. The highest structure in the world used to be in Poland
With a height of a whopping 646 m (2,119 ft), the Warsaw Radio Mast was the world’s tallest structure from 1974 until it collapsed in 1991.
The collapse happened during renovation works. One of the main cables had to be replaced, and when workmen were swapping them, the heavy wind caught the tower, causing it to collapse.
If the Warsaw Radio Mast was still standing, it would be the second-highest structure in the world today. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai (828 m / 2,722 ft), which was built in 2010, would still be the highest building.
16. The world’s oldest functioning salt mine is in Poland
Located just a 30-minute drive from Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine is quite an impressive place.
Nearly everything here is made of salt, and the mine is home to the stunning Chapel of Saint Kinga. It took 30 years to complete this chapel and it was done by just three men. With its works of art, altarpieces and chandeliers that are all made of salt, this place is very impressive!
This mine is approximately 300 km (186,4 mi) long, distributed over nine levels. As a tourist, you can visit 2% of the mine on a 2.5-hour tour, which is a crazy thought because the tour already covers a lot of ground!
You will find some nice Polish souvenirs here too, as the salt that’s mined here is sold in the souvenir shop.
17. Polish people get married young
Another fun fact about Poland is that Poles get married quite young.
With an average of 27,9 years old, Poland is the country with the lowest marital age in the European Union. So if you have Polish friends who aren’t married yet, you might expect an invitation soon!
18. The name “Poland” has a meaning
Poland is named “Polska” in Polish, which means “the land of fields”.
Around the 9th century, the Polans, a West Slavic tribe, inhabited the area that is now Western Poland. These people were known as being the people of the fields, hence the name “Polska”.
19. Poland couldn’t be found on a map for over a century
One of the most interesting fun facts about Poland is that this country couldn’t be found on a map for over a century.
In 1795, Poland vanished from the map of Europe. During this time, the country was divided between Russia, Austria and Germany. Poland would only reappear on the map in 1918, in the aftermath of WWII.
20. Polish people drink beer differently
Beer in Poland might be slightly different than what you might expect.
In typical Polish bars and venues, sweet raspberry syrup is often added to a pint of beer during summer. Whereas in winter, people drink grzane piwo (or grzaniec), a traditional Polish drink that is actually hot beer.
21. The Polish language is one of the hardest in the world
If you’re not a native speaker of another Slavic language, Polish is considered to be one of the most difficult languages to learn.
One English word can usually be translated into several Polish words, each of them having a slightly different meaning, and the Polish alphabet has 32 letters.
A lot of people speak English in Poland though, so no need to worry if you’re travelling there.
22. Mushroom picking is popular in Poland
One of the most popular summer activities in Poland is mushroom picking.
During September and October, many Poles flock to the forest to collect edible mushrooms. This is seen as an activity to enjoy quality time with friends and family.
From a young age, children are taught how to tell the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms.
23. Many famous inventions originated in Poland
Some revolutionary inventions originated in Poland. For instance, the kerosine lamp, bulletproof vest, paper clips, radiation and walkie-talkies are all Polish inventions.
But that’s not all – Esperanto, the most famous artificial language in the world, was also invented in Poland.
24. Poland holds some strange Guinness World Records
Another one of the most interesting fun facts about Poland is that this country can brag about holding some pretty strange Guinness World Records.
Not only was the largest underwater wedding held in Poland, but this country also holds the world record for the largest gathering of people with medical ear implants.
The latter sounds pretty random, right? But it was actually an action to raise awareness of how ear implants can help people with hearing loss.
The record for having the largest collection of snail items (yes, you read that right) is also held by a Pole, and the largest polonaise dance ever was held in Poland.
25. Polish food is delicious
Polish cuisine may not be the most famous cuisine in the world, but it is delicious! Some popular ingredients used in Poland are beetroot, cucumbers, mushrooms, sausages, kohlrabi, sauerkraut, sour cream and a variety of herbs and spices.
Make sure to try pierogi (Polish dumplings), zapiekanka (a dish resembling pizza), chlodnik (cold beetroot soup), bigos (a stew of sauerkraut and meat) and Szarlotka (Polish apple pie) on a visit to this country.
26. One of Europe’s oldest restaurants is in Poland
Established in 1273, Piwnica Świdnicka is the oldest restaurant in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe.
It’s located in the Old Town Hall in the city of Wrocław and it was named after the nearby city of Świdnica. During the Middle Ages, the beer of the restaurant was delivered from this city, hence the restaurant’s name.
27. 19 Nobel Prize winners are Polish
One of the most interesting facts about Poland is that a whopping 19 Nobel Prize winners are Polish.
According to Alfred Nobel’s will, a Nobel Prize is awarded to “those who have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”. There’s one prize for each of the following fields every year: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace and economy.
Poland has won prizes in every category, including six prices in literature, four prices in physics and four prices for peace.
Some of the most famous Polish Nobel Prize winners are Marie Curie (who won it twice), Henryk Sienkiewicz, Władysław Reymont, Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska.
28. The deepest pool in Europe is in Poland
With a depth of 45 m (149 ft), Deepspot Diving Center in Mszczonów, Poland, is the deepest diving pool in Europe.
The only swimming pool that’s deeper than this one is Deep Dive Dubai (60 m or 197 ft) in the United Arab Emirates.
29. 35% of Poles live abroad
As a result of Poland’s complicated and turbulent history, almost one-third of Polish people live abroad.
Poland has a population of almost 40 million, and another 20 million Poles live in other countries. This fact makes Polish people one of the most largely dispersed people in the world.
Fun Facts About Poland: Final Thoughts
And there you have it! These were the 29 fun facts about Poland featured in this list.
I hope that you have found exactly what you were looking for and that this post gave you a better idea of what Poland is all about.
Feel free to let me know in the comments if you think something is missing. There are, of course, many other fun facts about Poland, but I tried to include the most interesting ones.
I’m curious – how many of these facts about Poland did you already know? Let me know in the comments below!
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