There are numerous orthodox churches in Poland as it is the second biggest religion in the country. It is estimated that in Poland there are 500-600 thousand Orthodox Church believers and they have about 320 churches for their disposal. Still, the most interesting in terms of tourism are wooden churches of eastern and southern Poland. Wooden orthodox church constructions in Poland stand out from other churches in Europe with a variety of forms and types, perfect carpentry construction solutions and stylistic diversity. One of the most interesting examples of the Orthodox churches can be found in Bieszczady mountains in Równia, Smolnik and Turzańsk. Beskid Niski Region is also very rich in such temples, the most interesting ones are located in Kwiatoń and Owczary. Other interesting examples of the Orthodox churches in Poland include: Powroźnik, Ulucz, Chotyniec, Radruż and Hrebenne. Radróż and Hrebenne churches are the oldest Orthodox churches in Poland. Radróż church was erected in the 16th century and Hrebenne between 1697 and 1700. The touristic value of Orthodox churches in Poland was proved by enlisting them at UNESCO World Heritage List. The list includes: Smolnik, Turzańsk, Owczary, Kwiatoń, Powroźnik, Chotyniec, Radruż and Brunary Wyżne. It is also worth to mention a few new churches due to its interesting architecture such as: St. Sophia Church in Warsaw, Holy Spirit Church in Białystok (the biggest in Poland and one of the biggest in Europe), Holy Trinity in Hajnówka, Supraśl Monastery, Alexander Newski Church in Łódź and Orthodox church of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God in Biały Bór. It is crucial to mention one more pilgrimage and tourist site when we talk about Orthodox Church which is Góra Grabarka. The most holly place for Orthodox believers in Poland.
First protestant believers appeared in Poland around 1518. In total there are about 70 denominations belonging to various currents of Protestantism, which makes the group of Protestants the most numerous in terms of the number of registered churches and other religious associations with a regulated legal status. All Protestant communities comprise about 145.6 thousand believers in the country. Due to the turbulent past many Protestant churches were changed into Catholic ones after the WWII. Still, interesting protestant churches can be found all over the country. Definitely two most important Protestant churches in Poland in terms of tourism are wooden Peace Churches in Jawor and Świdnica which are enlisted at UNESCO World Heritage List. Another extremely original and interesting monument is Wang Church in Karpacz.
There are no huge numbers of mosques in Poland. The biggest number of Islam believers was traditionally located in the eastern part of Poland due to presence of Polish Tatars. The most well-known touristic places connected with them are definitely Kruszyniany and Bohoniki mosques. Still, there are also mosques in Gdańsk, Warszawa/Wilanów and there is Muslim Culture Center in Warsaw. The mosque in Kruszyniany comes from the second half of the 18th century. The building is preserved in excellent condition, it was completely renovated in 1846, tourists can also visit its interior. It is the oldest Muslim mosque in Poland. The structure of the temple is wooden and built on a rectangular plan. It is decorated with two towers finished with crescent moons. The interior is divided into two parts - separately for men and women. The Mosque in Bohoniki is one of the two Muslim temples on the Tatar Trail in the Podlaskie Voivodeship. It already existed at the beginning of the 18th century. The exact date of the current one is unknown, most probably it was built in the second half of the 19th century. The wooden building, built on a rectangular plan with a hipped roof, is crowned with one bell-shaped minaret with a crescent.
A large percentage of the followers of Buddhism in Poland are members of Zen communities and schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Currently, there are fourteen (according to the national register of churches and other religious associations) religious associations, schools and Buddhist communities operating in Poland. The most interesting Buddhist centres include: Gompa Drophan Ling in Darnkowo, Bencien Karma Kamtzang Centre in Grabnik and Gompa Karma Kagyu in Kuchary. Kuchary centre is probably the best well known one. It is located in historical manor and park complex. It consists of a brick classicising manor house from 1859 and a landscape park with an area of 6.5 ha. The gompa has been visited by hundreds of people from all over Europe. The centre organizes regular lectures and meditation courses with Tibetan Buddhist teachers as part of group and individual practice.
Judaism was highly developed in Poland before WWII due to great Jewish diaspora. Nowadays, the main touris attractions connected with Judaism are situated in Kraków Kazimierz District that we describe in our other articles. Here for example we can find the oldest synagogue in Poland "The Old Synagogue". Other popolar temples include Nożyków Synagogue in Warsaw, Reicherów Synagogue in Łódź, Renaissance Synagogue in Zamość, Baroque Synagogue in Łańcut, Synagogues in Tykocin, Biłgoraj, Włodawa, Sejny and Ostrów Wielkopolski.
Summing up, although Poland is regarded as mainly Catholic country, with multitude of Catholic monuments, it offers also interesting architectural monuments connected with other denominations. Especially precious group that can be selected here are wooden historical churches and temples. Poland can also boast a few church buildings enlisted at prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. If you want to see some of these churches and temples during your Polish trips, contact one of ITS Poland travel agent group coordinators. They will happily prepare a sightseeing plan for your group.
Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska