Digging Into Polish Culture

Posted by Viktoriia Rabcheniuk | March 6, 2017

Poland has always been a country, which has defended its freedom and art independence in its compositions. As any other countries, Poland has its famous art pieces giving the country a special character and differentiating it from others by unique traditions and culture. If you want to know more about the country, history of Poland is not the only place where to look. The culture of Poland is the best source for exploring the country’s soul.


Polish Language

Polish language is an official language of Poland and one of the official languages of European Union. The language is spoken not only in Poland but also in such countries as Argentina, the UK, Ukraine, the US, Russia, Canada, Germany, Belarus, Brazil, Lithuania, and Australia, where large Polish-speaking communities can be found.

Taking a closer look at Polish language, the one will say that is it one of the hardest languages to learn. Indeed, Polish language is not a piece of cake because of its tongue-bending pronunciation, seven cases, grammar, complexity of gender system, and its real Polish words not being similar to any international ones. Yet, learning Polish can help you to learn other closely-related languages like Czech and Slovak. Some Polish words are also similar to words of Bosnian, Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Croatian, and Macedonian languages; therefore, it will be much easier to perceive “new” alphabet and sounds.


Interesting facts about Polish language:

  1. Poles LOVE diminutive forms: pieniążki, kawka z mleczkiem, herbatka, piesek. Therefore, do not be surprised if firstly you learn the word “pióro” and the next thing is that you are being asked to give “piórko” and you do not get what the person wants from you.
  2. The name Ola is a short form of Aleksandra. Do not ask why…Other short forms for Aleksandra are Olusia, Olka, and Olunia.
  3. Poles are extremely polite people; it may be surprising, but even when they want to name someone an idiot, they say, “Pan jest idiotą”. In English the translation is, “ Sir, you’re an idiot”.
  4. The word “Cześć” means both “hello” and “bye”.
  5. Some Polish words can be false friends; they look and sound similar but have different meaning. For example, the word “ordinarny” does not mean ordinary but vulgar.


          Polish cinematography starts back from the end of World War I, when the country regained its independence after 120 years of occupation. The first Polish film was created in 1908 and was named Pruska Kultura (Prussian Culture).

prisska kultura

Back to those times, the majority of films were melodramas and of patriotic theme. Polish cinematography has developed dramatically since then and currently we can see more films of different kind.

It is hard to put the whole Polish cinematography in one list, but for those who is looking for ones of the greatest Polish movies, here are some the very best.The list is not an ultimate collection of success samples of Polish cinematography but those, which will motivate you to dig into country’s cinematography deeper. The majority of the examples are old movies, but it is always worth to watch those as they became classic art pieces.

  • Eroica (1958). It is a psychological drama set in wartime reality.
  • Ashes and Diamonds (1958) is one of the great masterpieces of Polish cinema and the finest Polish realist film.
  • Knife in the water (1962) is a drama film, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1963 Academy Awards
  • The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) is about  the discovery of a mysterious manuscript, which describes an intricate lattice of stories within stories within stories …
  • Illumination (1973)
  • Man of Marble (1977)
  • Interrogation (1982)
  • A Short Film about Love (1989) is a romantic drama
  • Escape from the Liberty Cinema (1990)
  • Ida (2013)

Polish Architecture
Polish architecture is breathtaking! The mastery can be seen in historical buildings and monuments, which always attract tourist’s eyes. They make them wonder, adore, and dig deeper into polish culture.


 Through many years polish architecture has been influenced by various styles, which made it to differ from each other. During XI-XIII centuries, the country was dominated by architecture in Romanesque style. Such buildings were characterized with thick walls and tiny windows. The buildings of such style can be found in Krakow. One of them is Town Hall Tower, at Main Market in Krakow.

pic 2

In XIII century, Gothic style also influenced Polish architecture and now we can enjoy  large windows and gorgeous  soaring towers of Cathedral in Wroclaw.

          The building was almost destroyed when being heavily  bombed by the Red Army in the last days of World War II. Yet, it recovered lots of years of renovation and rebuilding before looking stunning now.


Renaissance style occupied Polish architecture in sixteenth century. One of the best examples and Polish treasures is Wawel Castle, which is frequently been compared to British Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, as it represents Polish national pride and strong patriotism.

                          pic 4

Baroque architecture appeared in the second half of the seventeenth century, which decorated Polish buildings with gorgeous ornaments. The perfect example of baroque architecture in Poland would be Wilanow Palace.



In the beginning of the eighteenth century, Polish cities started to get their first architecture pieces in rokoko style. It can be seen in Saxon Gardens, which attract many tourists in all seasons.  There you can find beautiful statues, fountain, lake, and impressive garden. Rokoko style made this place to be one of the most impressive in Warsaw.

           The end of the nineteenth and early twentieth century was characterized by French art nouveaux, which decorated the buildings with different ornaments picturing flora and fauna. The main places where this style influenced the architecture significantly were Krakow, Wroclaw, and Gdansk; most of the houses come from this period.  Later in 30s of the twentieth century modernism turned polish architecture from art pieces into more building of durability and solidity. The style was a direct ancestor of socialist realism, or namely, socrealism. Postmodernism appeared in Poland at the end of 80s, which returned the architecture to traditional forms.

             Nowadays, Polish architecture has two visible styles, which aim to return the buildings’ look to the old forms of historical architecture in Szczecin, Elblag, Warsaw, and Krakow.

Polish Music 

19th century is considered to be Poland’s golden age of musical success. This was the period when Polish music art underwent a musical renaissance and when polonez appeared. Polonez now is considered a central Polish folk and a classical tradition. It became popular during 19th century even though it was originated in the late 16th century.


Frederic Chopin is recognized as the master of composition in polonez form.Chopin was a central figure in the development and rise of European Romantic music and is still known as a reminder of country’s nationalism. His most famous polonez is “The Military Polonaise”, which describes and glorifies Polish knighthood and victory over foreign invaders.

            Poland is a country of live and different musical styles and 20th century is a proof of that. In the late half of the 20th century, Poland has got a wide range of musical styles; Heavy Metal has been a leading genre in the country. Such group as Turbo, has been frequently compared to metal giants as Iron Maiden and always have been wanted for hard rock festivals.

We hope that during your Erasmus semester you will enjoy exploring Polish culture and traditions!

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