Travel photography: Poland 2020 - Part 1

September 18, 2020


The year 2020 was, to put it mildly, a bit different than what we're used to. In the face of a global pandemic traveling was not such an easy endeavor. Many people, including myself, had to abandon or at least adapt their travel plans to the unpredictable conditions.

In the middle of summer after months of lockdown and self-isolation I was looking for a destination relatively close to my home (I definitely didn't want to fly this year) interesting landscapes / cities and of course what everyone craves in a holiday destination in 2020 - low infection numbers.

After a very brief research period, I learned that Poland had exactly those perks to offer and especially after learning that wild bison roamed the easternmost part of the country I was definitely sold on the idea (more on that in the second part of this series). In this article series I'd like to share some impressions of a country that is not (yet) a big tourist destination but probably will be in the coming decades.

The Tatras

The first stop of my trip was actually not in Poland, but on the Slovakian side of the Tatras mountains which separate the two countries.

The High Tatras are the highest part of the Carpathian mountains with 29 peaks over 2,500 meters.
Coniferous woodland south of the Tatras with view towards the Sub-Tatra Basin.
The Cold Creek Waterfalls near Starý Smokovec form a complex system of cascaded waterfalls that are very accessible by various hiking trails.
The ruins of Spiš Castle form one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe. It burned down and was subsequently abandoned in 1780.
I was hoping for some nice sunset lighting but the weather wasn't on my side those first few days of the trip.
Moving over to the Polish side, this image was taken in the Pieniny National Park with an amazing view over the border region of the two countries. Everything to the left and behind the Dunajec river belongs to Slovakia, everything to the right to Poland. The High Tatras are visible in the background (right).
Same viewpoint but looking towards Lake Czorsztyn into the sunset.
The Castles Niedzica (front) and Czorsztyn (back) on the shore of Lake Czorsztyn were constructed to protect the trade route between Krakow (Poland) and Buda (Hungary) from robber bands inhabiting the Tatra region.
One of the most famous and most visited spots of the region is the mountain lake Morskie Oko, or Eye of the Sea in English. Also the largest lake in the region, it is surrounded by some of the most impressive peaks of the mountain range. Notice the position of the moon exactly above the Mnich (Monk).

Bieszczady National Park

Bieszczady National Park is situated all the way in the southeast of the country, right at the border of Ukraine and Slovakia in the hills of the eastern Carpathians. The sparsely populated area is home to several endangered species and some truly unique landscapes.

View towards Lutowiska before sunrise.
The rolling wooded hills are typical for the park.
Everything on these pictures except the flowers in the foreground is Ukraine. The sign says "National border - crossing prohibited".
The region also has a rich heritage of old Ukrainian style churches mostly made from larch wood.
This church in Czarna was especially impressive with its completely wooden interior and original iconography.
Deer resting at the forest edge.

Cities: Krakow, Zamosc and Wroclaw

To switch things up a bit, I'd like to show some cityscapes of the towns that are located in the area of this first part of the trip.

Krakow main square with St. Mary's Basilica, the Krakow Cloth Hall and the Town Hall Tower. The old town of Krakow was actually the first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wawel Cathedral on Wawel Hill.

Although I found Krakow to be a very beautiful city, I couldn't really find many interesting viewpoints for photos. It is quite flat and the old town is also fairly small which quite limits the options for interesting photography.

The Town Hall and the Armenian houses on the Great Market Square of Zamosc.
View over Wroclaw old town.
Panoramic view of the Market Square.
The Old Town Hall whose oldest parts originate from the 13th century.
The eastern side of the building.
In the early 14th century, an upper floor was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room.
Ostrów Tumski - Cathedral Island, with Wroclaw Cathedral to the right.

The second part of this series is about the regions further to the north with a main focus on the extraordinary Białowieża Forest - the last piece of remaining primeval forest in Europe. Continue here.

Thanks for reading!

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