Over the previous few a long time, Poland has risen to take its rightful place as one of many premier vacationer and traveler locations in Europe. That is no imply feat contemplating the way it was left after the Second World Struggle, and now its vibrant cities and gorgeous countryside are attracting guests from far and broad.
Poland’s panorama attracts many outside lovers, whereas locations like Krakow, Gdansk, Wroclaw, and Warsaw are cultural and culinary hubs with a buzzing nightlife scene. The truth that it’s significantly cheaper than its western counterparts solely provides to the attraction.
And but there are such a lot of extra locations to discover right here that maybe don’t get the identical consideration as these aforementioned cities. One such place is my hometown of Zagan within the southwest of the nation – the place I used to be born and raised. It won’t be on everybody’s bucket checklist, however it’s most definitely price a glance – not least for its Polish culinary excellence and historical past, and nice Polish Christmas traditions. Learn on to find what you may see, do and – after all – eat within the area.
The place is Zagan?
My hometown is positioned within the southwest of Poland on the Bóbr river, some 60 kilometers from the German border and 160 kilometers from Wroclaw. It has a small inhabitants of simply over 26,000 inhabitants and is the capital of the Zagan administrative district within the historic area of Silesia. Curiously, it’s thought that the identify of the city means “place of the burnt forest,” referring to the removing of woodland by the early settlers right here.
The city was first talked about in information relationship again to 1202, whereas the entire Silesia area has seen its fair proportion of ups and downs by means of the years, a culturally wealthy a part of the world with corners within the Czech Republic and Germany. With its place on the Bóbr, Zagan was an necessary commerce route, and the realm is blessed with many pure assets. However it’s maybe most well-known for being the placement of Stalag Luft III – the German prisoner of conflict camp that housed allied airmen throughout the Second World Struggle.
We will return to this fascinating story momentarily.
The right way to Get to Zagan
The closest main airport to Zagan is positioned in Wroclaw, however you may additionally think about flying into Dresden in Germany – which isn’t that a lot additional away at 169 kilometers. Flights depart frequently from most worldwide airports. On the time of writing, trains from Wroclaw run 4 occasions a day and it’ll take you wherever between two to 3 hours to reach. Examine the schedules earlier than departing. Buses are attainable however they don’t cease within the city middle and might be irregular.
One of the best ways to get to Zagan is by automobile, as having your individual mode of transport will afford you the flexibility to discover the encircling space and go to the sights with ease. Failing that, don’t overlook that Poland is a really hitchhiking pleasant nation and ridesharing can also be extraordinarily standard. Factors of curiosity within the area are sometimes a distance aside, so having your individual wheels is extremely beneficial.
Even should you do have your individual car, I might most positively recommend exploring the city by bicycle. Zagan is a really bike-friendly city given its comparatively small format, and you may lease one from the vacationer info workplace proper subsequent door to the Ducal Palace.
What to See in Zagan
Whereas having its personal specific attraction, the city itself doesn’t have many sights to talk of – definitely not when in comparison with Wroclaw or Dresden for that matter. However what it lacks in bodily points of interest, it greater than makes up for in historical past, meals and hospitality. That and its primary vacationer draw – Stalag Luft III POW camp and museum.
Stalag Luft III Prisoner Camp Museum
The areas simple spotlight is, fairly rightly, extraordinarily standard. A lot so that folks flock to the city from all corners of the globe simply to see the previous POW camp, with many guests being impressed to come back as a result of that they had members of the family or buddies imprisoned right here. It was constructed in March 1942, and it turned an notorious detention middle for captured airmen. Nevertheless it was the daring escape try by 200 males in 1944 that actually captured the world’s consideration, and most notably Hollywood’s, once they launched the 1963 movie The Nice Escape.
Though the Steve McQueen flick is a stone-cold traditional, it’s fairly completely different from how occasions really unfolded right here. The camp as we speak is a devoted reconstruction of what it might have been like for many who have been “friends” throughout the conflict. 76 airmen managed to interrupt out by means of the well-known “Harry” tunnel – a mock-up of which you’ll go to. Of these, solely three really made it again behind pleasant strains. The remainder have been both recaptured or executed on Hitler’s orders. The camp is a sombre however fascinating memorial to these courageous males and shouldn’t be missed throughout a go to to Zagan.
The Ducal Palace and Park
Positioned within the middle of the city is the gorgeous baroque Ducal Palace, constructed on the positioning of Piast Citadel within the fifteenth Century. The palace has an eclectic historical past, altering arms a number of occasions throughout its existence and at one time being one of the crucial well-known palaces in Europe being visited by a large number of dignitaries. Designed by Italian architect Vincenzo Boccacci, it has been tailored and improved down the years and has a year-round program of occasions and exhibitions on web site.
It’s set near the leafy, serene and stress-free Prince’s Park – which is the place you’ll discover many an area hanging out when the climate is sweet. Tickets for entry to the palace must be purchased prematurely on the vacationer info workplace on the entrance.
The Abbey of St Augustine
With roots again within the thirteenth Century, this monastery advanced is an particularly sacred web site in Poland and is called as an official nationwide historic monument. It has remained nearly intact because it was constructed, making it a really fascinating and noteworthy attraction in our little city. It has this actually cool function referred to as the whispered vault, the place the acoustics are simply in order that even should you converse a whisper, somebody will nonetheless hear you throughout area.
The church itself may be very stunning and the library and museum are effectively price a go to. Be suggested although – it’s essential e book a sightseeing tour a day prematurely if you wish to see it, however meaning its actual benefit is that it’s by no means overrun with vacationers.
eleventh Armoured Cavalry Division Exhibition
If you happen to haven’t already guessed, Zagan has a long-standing navy historical past, and as we speak it’s house to the eleventh Armoured Cavalry Division – which traces its roots again to operations in 1945. There’s a small museum on the barracks, together with a show of tanks and armoured autos, uniforms and paperwork and different fascinating displays. American tank divisions are additionally stationed right here and are on fixed rotation by means of the city. Positioned a brief drive out of the middle, the exhibition is a should for anybody within the topic.
The place to Keep in Zagan
Zagan is a small place so these aren’t many lodging choices obtainable there, sadly. Nonetheless, you may nonetheless discover one thing cozy and reasonably priced. Please take a look on the map beneath to see what locations might be booked in your sure dates.
What to Eat in Zagan
Ahhhh, now we come to a subject that may be very pricey to my coronary heart. Polish meals! As far and broad as I’ve traveled, I at all times like to return house for some conventional, hearty and comforting delicacies – often cooked by my mother! Zagan has some fantastic locations to pattern Polish delicacies, however we’ll get to that in a second. First, let’s check out only a style of what you need to be ordering right here.
A scrumptious but easy hen soup that’s well-known in these elements, we might often have it as a part of our Sunday dinner. It’s excellent for colder climate or any time you’re not feeling effectively.
Polish hen soup is just the perfect on the planet – however I may be just a little bit biased.
This can be a mouthwatering dish constructed from shredded sauerkraut and cabbage, blended with mushrooms and diced sausage. It’s the form of meal the place the one draw back is that it should finish in some unspecified time in the future.
If that is on the menu (and it will likely be) it’s essential give it a attempt – it’s our nationwide dish in spite of everything.
Maybe one among Poland’s most well-known dishes internationally, pierogi are thick dumplings that include quite a lot of fillings.
You’ll be able to take your decide from beef, sauerkraut and mushrooms, cottage cheese and boiled potatoes, and even seasonal fruits, corresponding to strawberries and blueberries. They’re typically imitated all over the world, however there actually isn’t any style like house.
One other hearty and filling dish (most Polish meals is), that is constructed from selfmade pasta, fried cabbage, shredded carrots and onions, and well-done diced pork.
Bitter cream is commonly served as an accompaniment and it’s additionally a well-liked dish in Belarus and Lithuania.
Polish Croissant Cookies
For these with a candy tooth and one thing for dessert, attempt these puff-pastry cookies. They’re often crammed with jam they usually’re very easy to make. Good as an after dinner deal with – or a deal with anytime!
The place to Eat in Zagan
My hometown is teeming with superior eating places so that you can attempt all of the culinary delights that this area gives. Worldwide delicacies can also be obtainable should you would favor, however you actually should attempt the native dishes to get the complete expertise right here.
This can be a great spot for affordable eats because it’s extra of a takeaway vendor. Nonetheless, the meals is scrumptious and really conventional. All the same old dishes are on supply, and you may even purchase produce to cook dinner for yourselves at house. The identify of the institution actually interprets as “house cooked lunches”. I need to order myself some pierogi proper now!
If you happen to’re searching for sit-down eats however nonetheless need to pattern conventional Polish delicacies, head to Kepler – which is definitely the primary rated restaurant within the city. Conveniently positioned within the coronary heart of Zagan, this place serves a full menu of Polish classics, in addition to scrumptious apple pie and ice cream (jabłecznik z lodami) which – though obtainable the world over – can also be a Polish speciality. The ready workers converse excellent English right here, too.
If you happen to’re going to eat Italian when you’re right here, you may as effectively head to Antonio’s Pizza.
There are lots of pizzerias in Zagan – Polish individuals love making and consuming the Italian dish simply as effectively, however they’ll typically be hit or miss. This one might be the perfect within the city.
Bar U-Waga Smak
Don’t be confused with the outside of this place – it’s not really a “bar” as you may understand it. U-Waga Smak is likely one of the well-known Polish “milk bars,” the place many Poles will go to dine on hearty, conventional meals that doesn’t value the earth. Set in a cafeteria type, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the locals – which might be an leisure in itself. A milk bar is a should go to whenever you’re exploring Poland – it’s an establishment.
Take Me Dwelling Nation Roads!
My outdated stomping floor of Zagan is a really particular place for me because it holds lots of cherished reminiscences. I at all times love returning to go to after nice lengths of time trotting the globe. There may be nothing fairly like visiting mother for some house cooked Polish treats, and though the city doesn’t have the vacationer draw of different cities within the nation, it has a sure attraction that I might nonetheless advocate experiencing. There may be, in spite of everything, no place like house.
Would you pay Zagan a brief or a protracted go to? And what can be your favourite factor to do there?