Jeremy Armstrong heads underground to Poland’s unusual but unmissable tourist attraction in one of its greatest cities
Agnieszka Santos, a Polish-born resident of the United Kingdom, is the one millionth visitor to the historic salt mine in Wieliczka near Kraków in 2015.
She was given the red-carpet treatment, taken on a special tour of the mine and presented with a very special gift – a barrel of salt.
She is on a few days’ visit to southern Poland with her family.
Foreigners account for about a half of the visitors to Wieliczka, with British tourists topping the list, followed by Germans, Italians, Spaniards and the French.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine was founded in the middle of the 13th century. It features a 3.5-km touring route for visitors that includes historic statues and mythical figures carved in salt. There are also a large chapel, an underground lake, as well as a private rehabilitation and wellness complex.
In 1978 the Wieliczka Mine was included in the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
All the major games of the 2015 Rugby World Cup will be screened at The Dorsz in Krakow.
Fixtures and groups (All times UK)
Friday, 18 September 20:00, England v Fiji, Twickenham Stadium, London
Sunday, 20 September 14:30, Wales v Uruguay, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Wednesday, 23 September 16:45, Australia v Fiji, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday, 26 September 20:00, England v Wales, Twickenham Stadium, London
Sunday, 27 September 12:00, Australia v Uruguay, Villa Park, Birmingham
Thursday, 1 October 16:45, Wales v Fiji, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday, 3 October 20:00, England v Australia, Twickenham Stadium, London
Tuesday, 6 October 20:00, Uruguay v Fiji, Stadium mk, Milton Keynes
Saturday, 10 October 16:45, Australia v Wales, Twickenham Stadium, London
Saturday, 10 October 20:00, England v Uruguay, Manchester City Stadium, Manchester
Saturday, 19 September 16:45, South Africa v Japan, Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton
Sunday, 20 September 12:00, Samoa v United States, Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton
Wednesday, 23 September 14:30, Scotland v Japan, Kingsholm, Gloucester
Saturday, 26 September 16:45, South Africa v Samoa, Villa Park, Birmingham
Sunday, 27 September 14:30, Scotland v United States, Elland Road, Leeds
Saturday, 3 October 14:30, Samoa v Japan, Stadium mk, Milton Keynes
Saturday, 3 October 16:45, South Africa v Scotland, St. James’ Park, Newcastle
Wednesday, 7 October 16:45, South Africa v United States, Olympic Stadium, London
Saturday, 10 October 14:30, Samoa v Scotland, St. James’ Park, Newcastle
Saturday, 11 October 20:00, United States v Japan, Kingsholm, Gloucester
Saturday, 19 September 12:00, Tonga v Georgia, Kingsholm, Gloucester
Sunday, 20 September 16:45, New Zealand v Argentina, Wembley Stadium, London
Thursday, 24 September 20:00, New Zealand v Namibia, Olympic Stadium, London
Friday, 25 September 16:45, Argentina v Georgia, Kingsholm, Gloucester
Tuesday, 29 September 16:45, Tonga v Namibia, Sandy Park, Exeter
Friday, 2 October 20:00, New Zealand v Georgia, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Sunday, 4 October 14:30, Argentina v Tonga, Leicester City Stadium, Leicester
Wednesday, 7 October 20:00, Namibia v Georgia, Sandy Park, Exeter
Friday, 9 October 20:00, New Zealand v Tonga, St. James’ Park, Newcastle
Sunday, 11 October 12:00, Argentina v Namibia, Leicester City Stadium, Leicester
Saturday, 19 September 14:30, Ireland v Canada, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday, 19 September 20:00, France v Italy, Twickenham Stadium, London
Wednesday, 23 September 20:00, France v Romania, Olympic Stadium, London
Saturday, 26 September 14:30, Italy v Canada, Elland Road, Leeds
Sunday, 27 September 16:45, Ireland v Romania, Wembley Stadium, London
Thursday, 1 October 20:00, France v Canada, Stadium mk, Milton Keynes
Sunday, 4 October 16:45, Ireland v Italy, Olympic Stadium, London
Tuesday, 6 October 16:45, Canada v Romania, Leicester City Stadium, Leicester
Sunday, 11 October 14:30, Italy v Romania, Sandy Park, Exeter
Sunday, 11 October 16:45, France v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of 669 children destined for Nazi concentration camps, has died aged 106.
Sir Nicholas, then a stockbroker, arranged for trains to carry Jewish children out of occupied Prague.
The prime minister described him as a “great man” and the chief rabbi praised his “exceptional courage”.
He died on the anniversary of the departure of a train in 1939 carrying the largest number of children – 241.
His son-in-law Stephen Watson said he died peacefully in his sleep at Wexham Hospital, Slough.
Sir Nicholas brought the children to Britain, battling bureaucracy at both ends, saving them from almost certain death, and then kept quiet about his exploits for a half-century.
He organised a total of eight trains from Prague, with some other forms of transport also set up from Vienna.
A jubilee edition of the 25th Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków began on Thursday, bringing thousands of visitors to the city.
This year’s edition will see as many as 300 events, led by artists and speakers from countries including Israel, the US, Hungary, Germany, Austria and Poland.
Concerts, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, guided tours and film screenings (among the latter special showings of Oscar-winning Polish movie ‘Ida’) are all in store.
The programme is divided into four sections: Classic, Off (Offbeat), Ideas and Art.
This year, organisers are placing a special emphasis on Kraków’s Kazimierz quarter, the district that for many centuries was the centre of Jewish life in the city.
As always, the ‘Shalom on Szeroka’ open-air concert will help wrap up the festival on Saturday 4 July, although there will also be some events on Sunday 5 July.
For the full programme, see the festival’s official Jewish Cultural festival website.
Two British teenagers have “apologised unreservedly” for “picking up items without thinking” from the former Auschwitz death camp, their Cambridge school says.
The Perse School says the 17-year-old boys “attempted to keep some items which they had found on the ground”.
They were detained at the site on Monday and released with suspended prison sentences on Tuesday.
Polish police said the boys denied any wrongdoing, and were spared a fine.
The teenagers were charged with unlawfully possessing items of special cultural importance, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. They were not made to pay a fine because they were not in employment.
The BBC’s Adam Easton in Warsaw said that, as with similar cases in the past, the boys were given suspended prison sentences and released.
“Incidents like this happen about once or twice a year, museum staff said, despite the fact notices warn visitors not to pick anything up.”
A Kraków edition of the classic game Monopoly is due to be released this autumn, and the most expensive and cheapest properties have already been decided in a public vote.
The first Warsaw edition of Monopoly was released in 1992, and Gdańsk was given its own version in November 2014. Kraków joins the group 80 years after the first ever edition was released in the US in 1935, when Atlantic City served as the prototype.
Why are we so fascinated by Auschwitz? ‘Dark tourism’ to ‘death sites’ helps us deal with our mortality, study reveals
Researchers conducted interviews at ‘dystopian dark tourist’ spots
These include Charles Manson ‘Helter Skelter’ tour and H.R Giger Museum
Study suggest people find it easier to deal with death the more they see it
And by attempting to understand why people kill can help tourists feel more secure about death and violence
Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush made an unannounced stop in Krakow on Wednesday to tour the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
Bush toured the camp with wife, Columba, Bloomberg confirmed. He didn’t invite the roughly 10 reporters from the U.S. and Europe following the former Florida governor on his five-day, three-country tour, out of respect for the site and those affected, a Bush aide said.
More than 1 million people, mostly Jewish prisoners, died at the camp during World War II.
Bush, who is expected to announce his plans to run for president on Monday in Miami, also has plans to meet top political leaders in each of the three countries he’s visiting.
In Poland on Thursday, Bush will meet with President Bronisław Komorowski; the newly elected president, Andrzej Duda; Radek Sikorski, the head of the lower house of the Polish parliament; and Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna.
5. The life-saving escapee
Alfréd Wetzler’s escape from Nazi death camp Auschwitz is possibly the most important prison escape in history.
Wetzler, a Slovakian jew, escaped from Auschwitz with fellow inmate Rudolf Vrba in April 1944 by hiding in a wood pile that other inmates soaked with tobacco and gasoline to fool guard dogs.
After four nights hiding among the wood, the two men donned stolen suits and overcoats and began a 80 mile journey to the Polish border with Slovakia.
In his pockets, Wetzler carried a report on the inner workings of the death camp, including a ground plan, details of the gas chambers, and a label from a canister of Zyklon B – the gas that the Nazi’s used to kill millions of inmates. It was the first detailed report about Auschwitz that the Allies regarded as credible, and led to the bombing of buildings that housed Nazi officials who dealt with the railway deportations.
120,000 Hungarian Jews are said to have been saved as a result.
‘My beautiful Auschwitz childhood’: Daughter of camp commandant Rudolph Hoess describes life growing up next to a concentration camp – and how she has hidden her identity for decades
Ingebirgitt Hannah Hoess was six when father Rudolf headed Auschwitz
Had a ‘beautiful childhood’ while Holocaust happened beyond garden wall
At least 1.2million Jews were murdered at infamous death camp in Poland
Claims she didn’t know about deaths and lived under an assumed name
Suffers from headaches – as her father did – when she thinks of Holocaust
The daughter of Nazi death camp commander Rudolf Hoess has broken decades of silence and spoken of having to accept and conceal that her father was one of history’s most prolific mass murderers.
Although no date has been set, church leaders in Poland hope Pope Francis will visit the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz during a July 2016 visit to Poland for World Youth Day.
“We hope Pope Francis will come to Auschwitz and deliver a warning to the world by again demonstrating the horrors of war and the camps, so they’ll never recur,” Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI.
An administration official at the Auschwitz Museum, Jolanta Kozuch, told Catholic News Service May 28 a date had not yet been agreed upon for a stopover by Pope Francis at the camp, 20 miles west of Krakow, where 1.2 million mostly Jewish prisoners died at German hands in 1940-45.
Retired Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, a former bishops’ conference general secretary who now lives in Krakow, told CNS he hoped more details would be available shortly.
“Any visit by the head of the Catholic Church to Auschwitz, in the footsteps of John Paul II in 1979 and Benedict XVI in 2006, would always have huge significance,” Bishop Pieronek told CNS May 28. “This is a place of great importance for the whole of humanity, so it would be received very well if the pope came here to pray and commemorate.”
Cardinal Dziwisz spoke to KAI about preparations for July 26-31, 2016, World Youth Day in his diocese. He said bishops and youth groups from abroad were arriving in Krakow daily to check on preparations.
He will also certainly visit a hospital or home for the poor, in addition to other points in his program. But many other groups, such as the students of Europe, are also getting in touch and hoping to have a moment for themselves with him,” he said.
During his visit for World Youth Day, Pope Francis is scheduled to lead a Way of the Cross procession from the Krakow’s Divine Mercy Sanctuary, a prayer vigil on youth issues near the Wieliczka Salt Mine and a final Mass in the city’s Blonia Park.
The cardinal said the program had been largely based on the success of World Youth Day at Poland’s Jasna Gora national sanctuary in 1991, but had also taken account of Pope Francis’ personal devotion to the Divine Mercy cult centered in Krakow’s Lagiewniki suburb.
He also said he had asked Poland’s foreign minister to reduce visa charges for the 300,000 youngsters expected from Russia, Ukraine and other countries to the east.
In a May 27 report, KAI said World Youth Day organizers were seeking 20,000 volunteers from Poland and abroad to help with the event, which was expected to attract up to 2.5 million people, including 35,000 from the United States.
The agency added that the pope had been asked to visit other locations in Poland to mark the 1050th anniversary of the country’s Christian conversion, including Jasna Gora and the capital, Warsaw, and its oldest Catholic see at Gniezno.
In a Jan. 27 Twitter message to mark the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, the pope said Auschwitz “cries out with the pain of immense suffering and pleads for a future of respect, peace and encounter among peoples.”