Museums in Poland

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological museum is situated in a complex of buildings by the Motława River. It contains an extensive collection describing the Polish cultural and ethnic roots of the region.
Founded: | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Warsaw Uprising Museum

The Warsaw Uprising Museum is dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The institution of the Museum was established in 1983, but no construction work took place for many years, and the museum finally opened on July 31, 2004, marking the 60th anniversary of the Uprising. The Museum sponsors research into the history of the Uprising, and the history and possessions of the Polish Underground State. It collects and maintai ...
Founded: 1983 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

SS Soldek

SS Sołdek was a Polish coal and ore freighter. She was the first ship built in Poland after World War II and the first seagoing ship completed in Poland. She was the first of 29 ships classed as Project B30, built between 1949 and 1954 in Stocznia Gdańska (Gdańsk Shipyard). The name was given in honour of Stanisław Sołdek, one of the shipyard's shock workers. The ship is currently preserved as a museum ship in Gdańs ...
Founded: 1949-1954 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Central Maritime Museum

The history of the museum dates back to 1960 when the Pomeranian Museum (now the National Museum) set up an independent branch under the name “Maritime Department”. Two years later this department became a separate institution based in the famous Zuraw Crane in Gdansk. The museum then took over several barns on Olowianka Island. Apart from these and the Wielki Zuraw Crane the other divisions are the Fisheries ...
Founded: 1960 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Amber Museum

Housed in Gdańsk’s medieval Foregate building (once home to the Prison Tower and Torture Chamber), this multi-story exhibit delves extensively into the history of Baltic amber. The impressive collection of “inclusions” (when bugs or plants are caught inside the amber) is intriguing to look at, and the many amber creations, from inkwells to spoons to a stunning Fender Stratocaster guitar, shows the m ...
Founded: | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Warsaw National Museum

The National Museum in Warsaw was originally founded in 1862 as the Museum of Fine Arts and is currently one of the oldest art museums in the country. After Poland regained its independence in 1918, the National Museum was ascribed a prominent role in the plans for the new state and its capital city of Warsaw, and the Modernist building in which it currently resides was erected in 1927–1938. Today, the National Muse ...
Founded: 1862 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

ORP Blyskawica

ORP Błyskawica is a Grom-class destroyer which served in the Polish Navy during World War II and is the only ship of the Polish Navy awarded the Virtuti Militari medal. It is preserved as a museum ship in Gdynia, the oldest preserved destroyer in the world. It was the second of two Grom-class destroyers, built for the Polish Navy by J. Samuel White, Cowes in 1935–37. The name means Lightning. The two Groms were ...
Founded: 1935-1937 | Location: Gdynia, Poland

Dar Pomorza

Dar Pomorza is a Polish sailing frigate built in 1909 which is preserved in Gdynia as a museum ship. It was built in 1909 by Blohm & Voss and dedicated in 1910 by Deutscher Schulschiff-Verein as the German training ship Prinzess Eitel Friedrich. In 1920, following World War I, the ship was taken as war-reparations by Great Britain, then brought to France, where she was assigned to the seamen"s school at St-Nazair ...
Founded: 1909 | Location: Gdynia, Poland

Ethnographic Museum

Located inside the 18th-century Abbatial Granary inside Oliwa Park, this delightful little diversion features three floors showcasing all manner of folk-related artifacts from Eastern Pomerania and is considered to be one of the best collections of its kind in Poland. Exhibits include a wide range of folk art from wood carvings to some really amazing paintings made between the 18th and the early 20th century as well as fo ...
Founded: | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Naval Museum

The Naval Museum of Gdynia is focused on the history of the Polish navy history. The museum contains a huge collection (20.000 pieces) of weapons used by the Polish navy. Show-piece is currently the ORP Blyskawica, a Polish destroyer used in the Second World War.
Founded: | Location: Gdynia, Poland

Roads to Freedom Exhibition

Roads to Freedom Exhibition, opened on the 20th anniversary of the 1980 shipyard strikes, traces the history of the Solidarity movement and Poland's struggle to wriggle out of the grip of communism. The "Roads to Freedom" multimedia exhibit consists of two parts; in the outdoor portion you'll see a section of the Berlin Wall beside the wall Lech Walesa climbed to lead the shipyard workers, an armored tank used to put down ...
Founded: | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

National Museum

The National Museum in Gdańsk (Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku), established in 1972 (although the history goes back the third quarter of 19th century), is one of the main branches of Poland"s National Museum system. Its main location is in the old Franciscan monastery, which has been used to house exhibits since the end of the 19th century. Currently the museum has seven departments. The first floor is given ov ...
Founded: | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Museum of Cieszyn Silesia

The Museum of Cieszyn Silesia is one of the oldest public museums in Central Europe and the oldest public museum in Poland, set up by father Leopold Jan Szersznik in 1802. The building bears traces of Baroque-neoclassical style. The two storey and three wing building is made of brick and broken stone in cellars. The interior design is based on two tracts. On the ground floor there are two arterial hallways: the first one ...
Founded: 1802 | Location: Cieszyn, Poland

Biskupin

The archaeological open-air museum Biskupin is a life-size model of an Iron Age fortified settlement in Poland. When first discovered it was thought to be early evidence of Slavic settlement but archaeologists later confirmed it belonged to the Biskupin group of the Lusatian culture. The settlement belongs to the Hallstatt C and D periods (early Iron Age, 800-650 BC and 650-475 BC). In 1933 Polish archaeologists discover ...
Founded: 800-475 BC | Location: Żnin, Poland

Guardhouse No 1

WWII broke out here at dawn on 1 September 1939, when the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein began shelling the Polish guard post. The garrison, which numbered just 182 men, held out for seven days before surrendering. The site is now a memorial, with some of the ruins left as they were after the bombardment. The surviving Guardhouse No 1 houses a small exhibition related to the event, including a model of the battle la ...
Founded: | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.