10 things about Poland you had no idea

Poland has a rich history and cultural heritage. On the international arena, Poles have many proud achievements, which they are proud of. On top of that, there is the beauty of nature, which, apart from traditional dishes, is admired by foreigners. However, there are many facts and curiosities, which, despite the widespread presence in Poland, are entirely unknown to foreigners. Therefore, we hurry to help with our list of facts, surprising information and curiosities about Poland. Here we go!

Kingdom of amber

If you have amber products in your collection, they probably come from the Polish Tri-City (polycentric metropolitan centre, including the cities of Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia). As it turns out, Poland is the largest amber exporter in the world. It is estimated that the share of Polish products on the world market may reach as much as 80%. The largest international amber trade fair in the world, Amberif, takes place in Gdańsk. The majority of amber products manufactured in Poland are exported, and the largest recipients of Polish amber are The United States, Germany and numerous Far East countries.

Criddle of apples

Did you know that Poland is the largest apple producer in Europe and the third-largest in the world? In 2014, Poland produced as much as 3,195,299 tonnes of this delicious fruit. Polish apples are known and liked in Europe, Asia and Africa. Cistercians started growing apples in Poland already in the 12th century. Also back then they started grafting wild boars of forest apple trees, obtaining ever more abundant garden apples. What is even more impressive: also though the most significant apple production in the world is in China, the largest country in the world imports apples from Poland in large numbers.

Free transport for life

Urban transport is becoming increasingly uncomfortable due to growing urban populations. It is also noticeably more expensive, which has a real impact on our wallets. If you have ever wondered what to do to make public transport cheaper, you should obviously consider moving to Warsaw. As it turned out, according to the Municipal Transport Authority, people born on public transport have the right to travel for free. Important in that case is that person born in public transport, can travel for free…. until death! In theory, you won’t be driving for free to school or work, but at least you won’t have to pay for your children’s travels. Glass half full, right?

The oldest restaurant in Europe

Despite the opinion that the Middle Ages was “dark ages”, its documentation is exact and detailed. Not only official transcripts, books, documents and paintings, but also… restaurants. After all, people always had to eat and socialize somewhere. As it turns out, the oldest restaurant in Europe is located in western Poland, or more precisely in Wrocław. Established in 1273, “Piwnica Świdnicka” is the most former medieval cellar and a living document of the epoch, set in the vaults of the Old Town Hall. On the wall of the “Piwnica”, there is a commemorative plaque of outstanding guests who visited it. Apart from the royal family and prominent politicians, there are also Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Fryderyk Chopin. For administrative and renovation reasons, the restaurant has been closed for the time being since 2017.

Maximilian Factor aka Max Factor

Maksymilian Faktor was born in Zduńska Wola in a poor Jewish family with many children. He was one of ten children. In 1904 he left with his family for the United States to take part in the World Trade Fair in St. Louis and he stayed there. In 1907 he opened a drugstore and wig shop in Los Angeles and soon began to work as a make-up artist with actors in Hollywood. In 1909 Max Factor began to manufacture the first series of his own cosmetics under the brand name “Max Factor & Company”. The rest is already a history of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of global reach. Interestingly enough, Factor was also the creator of the word make-up and the invention of packaging cosmetics into tubes.

Beer with what?!

If you go to a pub abroad and order a beer with juice, the waiter will probably look at you with a questioning eye of misunderstanding. Whether it’s Berlin, London, New York or Shanghai. Poland is perhaps the only country in the world where adding ginger or raspberry juice is absolutely regular or even popular. The same applies to the Polish “speciality”, i.e. adding cloves and cinnamon on cold winter evenings. It is not known exactly who invented it and when, but it quickly became one of the most unique customs of Poles.

If pizza, obviously with ketchup

Yup. You don’t read it wrong. Alive and well in Poland is a custom of pouring ketchup or some other sauce, such as garlic, over a pizza. While in Italy the question of ketchup for pizza is the deadliest sin, in Poland the waiter will gladly bring it to you.

Conquerors of Moscow

Moscow remains one of the least conquered cities in world war history. In more than a thousand years of its existence, today’s capital city of Russia has been defeated only three times. It was first done by the Mongols in 1237, the Tartars in 1382 and Napoleon in 1812, when his troops entered the abandoned city. Interestingly, the Poles were the only ones who not only captured Moscow but also occupied it between 1610 and 1612. Neither the great Emperor of France nor even Hitler succeeded in doing so. 

Radom is bigger than Paris

It’s safe to say, that Radom is not the most respected city in Poland. To be honest, its reputation is mostly  comedy-ish. It’s also a hometown of variety of common “polish jokes”. Let me put it this way: if Warsaw is a New York, Radom is a polish Jersey. BUT! It turns out that this small city – according to the 2019 census, there live 212 230 people – has a larger area than…. Paris! Although the French capital is home to 10 times more people, the area of Radom is 111.8 km² and Paris 105.4 km². This fact does not make any city worse or better. Still, it gives an entirely different view in terms of density and quality of life.

National watching of “Home alone”

This is a real Polish tradition. Every year, millions of Poles sit in front of TV sets on Christmas Eve to watch the film “Home alone”. Generations of today’s thirty-year-olds cannot imagine Christmas without this film, at least flying in the background. The fact that absolutely everyone knows the plot by heart does not bother anyone. Macaulay Culkin basically becomes a part of Christmas tradition.

Polish geniuses who in fact are… Polish!

The legacy of mankind has no nationality because it is in the general interest of humanity to develop. However, it is nice when other countries do not take credit for someone’s genius. Because it doesn’t matter where a given artist worked or lived. Poles, unfortunately, have a few examples in this field, which they still have to argue about. The best example is the most critical chemist in history – Maria Skłodowska-Curie. The two-time Nobel Prize winner lived and worked in France, which does not change the fact that she was still Polish. A similar fate was shared by the virtuoso of the Romantic era, Frederic Chopin. To this day, in the collective consciousness of the world, people are not sure whether the musician was French or Polish (of course, the latter). This infamous list will be closed by the most famous medieval astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, who proved that the Sun, and not the Earth, was the centre of the planetary system. His Polishness to this day is disputed in favour of Germany, where, among other things, he worked.

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