Category Archives: Polish

The Best Universities in Poland

university warsaw poland

One of the buildings of the University of Warsaw in Poland, c.1989.

Poland has some great universities. The best of these offer a higher education of a standard up there with the best colleges and universities in the world. Here then is a list of what are widely considered the best and consistently highest ranked universities in Poland. All of the below feature in the newly published Times Higher Education ‘World University Rankings 2016′.

university library krakow

A picture postcard image of the Jagiellonian library at the University of Krakow in Poland, c.1930.

1 – University of Warsaw
2 – Warsaw University of Technology
3 – Jagiellonian University in Krakow
4 – Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan
5 – AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow
6 – Gdansk University of Technology
7 – University of Lodz
8 – Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun
9 – University of Silesia in Katowice

university poland

The main building of the University of Adam Mickiewicz (German: Reichsuniversität) in Poznan, c.1941.

According to the same ranking system the best university in the world is the University of Oxford in England. View the full results here.

Three Kings Day

Today is Three Kings Day in Poland and many other Christian countries.

Three Kings Day (Trzech Króli) is an important celebration with parades featuring the Three Wise Men, in many larger cities. Carols are sung and special services are held in most churches. And special cakes are baked and eaten.


The KMB inscription above the doorway to a newly built house in the west of Poland.

In addition, in homes throughout Poland, Poles take a small box containing a piece of chalk, incense, a piece of amber, and a gold ring to a church to be blessed. When home they then inscribe the letters K+M+B+ and the year with the chalk above the main doorway to the house. Tradition has it that this provides protection against illness and misfortune for all those within. The letters, with a cross after each one, stand for the names of the Three Kings in Polish – Kacper, Melchior and Baltazar. These markings remain above the door all year or until they disappear with weather or are replaced by new markings on the 6th of January the following year. In some households markings are made above every door in the house! And some Poles don’t get their chalk blessed in church but just add the inscription in chalk themselves. However, in some smaller communities, this is seen as a serious spiritual event with the priest present when the inscription is made.

Three Kings Day or Epiphany is an official non-working national public holiday in Poland. Almost everywhere is closed. Schools, offices, shops, indeed, pretty much any place.

Many families will also remove and eat any edible decorations on their Christmas trees and take down their Xmas tree on Three Kings Day, as this is officially the 12th day of Christmas, which marks the end of the Christmas season.

Read more about Epiphany in Poland on our earlier webpage about the initials KMB.

Złotoryja Through Time

zlotoryja goldberg

A late 19th century lithographic picture postcard of Zlotoryja / Goldberg.

Here are a selection of images of the town of Złotoryja / Goldberg through time.

zlotoryja goldberg pl

A vintage image of the dolphin fountain in the Rynek area of Zlotoryja (Goldberg), c.1909.

Złotoryja is a town in Lower Silesia (dolnośląskie) in the south-west of Poland.

zlotoryja goldberg polen

An animated picture postcard of the Market Square (Rynek) in Zlotoryja / Goldberg in Silesia, c.1931.

Some things you may not know about Złotoryja:
- Prior to 1945 Złotoryja was called Goldberg and part of Germany.
- Gold and basalt was mined in the area from the middle ages through to the 1940s.
- The current population of Zlotoryja is around 15,000.

Złotoryja  poland

A communist-era photograph showing Blacksmith’s Tower in Pl. Reymonta Wladyslawa in Złotoryja, Poland, c.1969.

Blacksmith’s Tower shown in the photograph above was part of the 14th century defensive town walls.

Złotoryja silesia

An archive photograph of the Rynek in Złotoryja, Silesia, Poland. c.1974.


elk lyck east prussia

An old lithographic picture postcard dating back to 1901 of Elk / Lyck.

Following an incident centred on a Kebab takeaway in the town of Elk in Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship of north-east Poland is in the news. Nudged by this media attention we’ve scanned some images of Ełk through time from our picture archive and put together some lesser known facts about the town and present them here.

Elk Lyck

The church and shops in the centre of Elk / Lyck, c.1933.

Did you know:
- Prior to the end of World Ear II Elk was called Lyck and part of East Prussia, Germany.
- The German writer Siegfried Lenz was born in Elk / Lyck in 1926.
- Defending German troops left Elk / Lyck intact without a shot being fired on 24 January 1945.
- The Red Army entered and promptly destroyed nearly 50% of the buildings.
- Ełk was repopulated by Poles from the Augustow and Szczuczyn areas and by displaced people from the Grodno and Vilnius region.

Elk Poland

A photograph of a delicatessen shop, Syrena car, and motorcyles on ulica Wojska Polskiego in Elk, c.1970.

You might also be interested to learn that:
- A superb Narrow Gauge Railway operates between Elk, Sypitki, and Turowo.
- Museums dedicated to the narrow gauge railway and beekeeping are located in Ełk.
- Elk is located in the Elk Lake District, which is part of the Mazury Lake District.
- The current population of Ełk is around 59,000.


An elevated photographic view of Elk in northeastern Poland, c.1974.

Ełk map

A map of Poland showing Ełk’s location marked by a star.

Offsite link:
- A news report on the killing of a local man allegedly by Muslim immigrants.

Stanislaw Raczynski

raczynski stanislaw

A woodcut of the spires of the Cathedral in Krakow by Stanislaw Raczynski.

Stanislaw Raczynski (1903–1982) was a Polish artist who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He is probably best known for his architectural and figural woodcuts of which these are fairly typical examples.

raczynski stanislaw art

Related: Woodcuts and water colours by the artist Wladislaw Skoczylas.

Wesołych Świąt / Merry Christmas

Today’s seasonal Polish phrase is ‘Wesołych Świąt’, which translates in to English as Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas!

Wesołych Świąt  Merry Christmas

A photograph of our Christmas tree at home here in Poland. Wesołych Świąt / Merry Christmas!

Or if you prefer you can say Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia, which also means Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas! If you’re in Poland, you might also hear, Wesołych Świąt i szczęśliwego Nowego Roku, which means Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Browar Ciechan

Did you know that a selection of rather good Polish beers are produced by a brewery (browar) in the town of Ciechanow located in the Mazowieckie province of Poland.

ciechan beer

Trivia related to the brewery in Ciechanów:
- For many year the brewery was owned by someone of Scots descent called Karol Machlejd (MacLeod).
- During the Second World War the brewery was take other by the Nazis and known by the name Brauerei Betriebs GmbH.
- Some of the beers produced by Ciechan include Ciechan Lager, Ciechan Miodowe (Honey), and an unpasteurised beer called Ciechan Wyborne (Exquisite).
- Ciechanów brewery also make an isotonic drink called Krzepiak.

Ciechanów Zichenau

The town hall and main square in Ciechanów or Zichenau as it was then on a postcard dated 1941.


A photograph of people on a zebra crossing on ulica Pultuska in Ciechanow, c.1990.

More photographs from our archive and information on Ciechanow.


Today is Mikolajki!

Mikolajki St Nikolas

December 6th is the feast day of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, and Mikolajki as this day is known in Polish is a special day in the run up to Christmas when small gifts are given to children in Poland. Depending on family traditions these presents are either left under pillows, on windowsills, or in footwear (clean shoes or boots!).

Related pages on Polish Poland:
- More information on Saint Nicholas Day and old images of St. Nicholas.

Roland War Memorial Mound

heldendenkmal labes lobez

An old picture postcard of the ‘Heldendenkmal’ war memorial and mound in Labes / Lobez, c.1937.

Information and archive images of the ‘Roland’ war memorial and mound in what was when it was construcyed Labes, Pommern, Germany; but since 1945, Lobez / Łobez, Zachodniopomorskie, (western Pomerania), Poland.

kriegerdenkmal labes lobez

The ‘Kriegerdenkmal’ and statue of Roland in Labes / Lobez / Łobez, Pommern, c.1937.

An artificial mound (or hill) of greater than 100 metres height was built in Labes / Lobez in 1922. It consisted of four artificial terraces. The top of the mound could be reached by way of a pair of stone stairs flanked by megaliths inscribed with runes and other Germanic symbols. A statue of the Germanic Knight Roland holding a sword was erected on top of the mound and stood more than ten metres high. In addition to the central statue, inscribed stones and mound itself, benches were put in place and trees were planted. The trees were chosen to symbolise different things. Pine trees symbolised sadness and loneliness, while spruces were connected to life and rebirth, and ash and hornbeam to longevity and pride. The purpose of this mound and its monuments was to commemorate and remember those who died in the 1914 – 1918 war.

The mound and monuments were built by the local community with the recorded help of more than 1,000 people. The whole project was financed by voluntary donations and required a total of 4,850 hours to complete.

The official unveiling of the statue of Roland, along with seven quadrangular columns, and boards inscribed with the names of the 200 or so men killed in the First World war from the immediate Labes / Lobez area was done by the President of Germany, Paul von Hindenburg. This took place on 1 August 1926.

In 1931, Erich Puchstein filmed a silent 12-minute film ‘Die Stadt im Osten’ about the war memorial.

Labes lobez Roland

A front view of the Roland statue, ivy-covered columns, and war memorial in Labes / Lobez, c.1937.

Following the transfer of this part of what was Germany, to Poland, in 1945, the huge statue of Roland the Knight was blown up, and the war memorial as a whole has suffered greatly as a result of theft, vandalism and neglect. This process of decay, unfortunately, continues to the present-day.

war memorial lebes lobez

The War Memorial and Mound in Labes / Lobez photographed just after completion of the main structure in 1926.

Historical note: Roland was a Knight and nephew of Charlemagne. He was part of Charlemagne’s army fighting the Muslims in Spain and was killed at the Battle of Roncevaux. As a result of which Roland was immortalised in the medieval French epic poem ‘Song of Roland’ (La Chanson de Roland). Statues of Roland (Rolande) still exist throughout present-day Germany. Many dating back several hundred years. The most famous surviving monument to Roland is probably the 15th century five metre high limestone statue in Bremen.

Lighting Church Candles

Church candles in Poland

Our children and their friend lighting votive candles in the Church Our Lady of Rokitno in the west of Poland.

This afternoon we paid a visit to the simply wonderful mid 18th century Church and Minor Basilica in the village of Rokitno, in the Przytoczna / Skwierzyna area of Lubuskie, Poland. During the visit we lit votive candles and said silent, individual prayers for either individuals or specific issues. These prayer candles continued to burn after we left the church. The burning flame symbolising the ongoing nature of the prayer. This is a commonplace activity in Catholic churches throughout Poland. In every church we have visited a small charge is made to cover the cost of the candles. In this case the recommended donation is one zloty.

Related content on Polish Poland:
- All Souls’ Day / All Saints’ Day.