A Pyramid in Poland? Bizarre Outdoor Sights
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default, A Pyramid in Poland?
Bizarre Outdoor Sights, Statue of Jesus Christ in Świebodziń, photo: Krzysztof Żuczkowski / Forum, center, #000000, swiebodzin_trasa_po_pl_forum.jpg
A city break, a visit to the seaside, a long hike in the mountains, a relaxing getaway amongst the lakes. Holidays in Poland can offer you everything that you would expect to see in a travel agency brochure, but let’s admit it: we’ve all done those things.
Instead, we propose a tour of Poland’s weirdest sights, all of which you can reach in (or even see from) a car. We can guarantee that the photos you’ll be showing your friends after your unusual Polish expedition are unlike anything they have ever seen.
Wierzbica’s giant strawberry
Drive north from Warsaw for less than an hour, and you can’t miss it. A small village called Wierzbica located past the city of Serock is home to an enormous strawberry. Its perplexing charm attracts passing drivers as well as explorers of abandoned places, who make the trip specifically to see the run-down, rust-covered fruit.
Initially, the strawberry served as an advertisement for the local company Sadpol (the name, a merger of the Polish words for ‘orchard’ and ‘Poland’, is not as imaginative as the rest of the company’s marketing strategy). It was, of course, one of Poland’s biggest strawberry growers. Unfortunately, around 2014, the owners realised that the rates they were offering their seasonal workers were not high enough to attract any prospective employees – so they had to diversify to different kinds of fruit.
The strawberry has remained where it stood originally, but the passage of time has turned it from yet another roadside advertisement to the eerie and fascinating remains that we are able to admire today.
Statue of Jesus in Świebodzin
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Statue of Jesus Christ in Świebodziń, photo: Robert Neumann / Forum
Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer might be the most famous statue of Jesus in the world – but if you hate crowds and think that size matters more than reputation, Poland has you covered. In 2010, Świebodzin, a small city near Poland’s Western border, decided it was not impressed with Rio’s renowned statue and constructed what is currently the largest statue of Jesus in the world.
The Monument of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, which definitely merits its extravagant name, is 36 metres tall and weighs around 440 tonnes. Standing on an artificial mound with overstretched arms and towering over the nearby expressway, it is a sight to behold. Locals have it that the best vantage point is a nearby Tesco. While a photograph taken of Świebodzin’s statue might not be as pretty as its counterpart from Rio de Janeiro, it would certainly be more interesting.
A spooky pyramid in Rapa
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Speaking of Polish twists on world-famous constructions, the pyramid in the village of Rapa in Mazury might not be bigger than the original, but it is just as mysterious. Baron Friedrich von Fahrenheid, the owner of the village in the 19th century, was fascinated by the budding science of Egyptology and wanted to take advantage of the rumoured wondrous properties of mummification and the pyramids.
The tomb he built for himself and his family is believed by some to have been designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor famous for many of Warsaw’s statues. But even more unexpected is the fact that all of the mummified remains laid to rest in the pyramid had their heads removed. The most probable theory is that the corpses were defiled during World War II, but local legends provide supernatural explanations – which are all the more puzzling when you consider that a tomb in nearby Zakałcze Wielkie contains similar headless mummies.
Outdoor radiators in Stąporków
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The giant radiator in Stąporków, photo: still from video by Matteo Theo / Youtube
A themed city park seems like a pretty standard idea until you realise that it’s going to be more of a square… and the theme is radiators. The square in front of Stąporków’s cultural centre is home to the largest radiator in the world, although this record might not be as competitive as in the case of the statue of Christ. The city’s most unusual attraction is over two metres high and is surrounded by regular-sized, but colourful radiators.
The theme for the weird outdoor exhibition is actually strongly connected to Stąporków’s history. The city’s first hammer mill dates back to the 16th century and was subsequently expanded into enormous ironworks. In the second half of the 20th century, Stąporków became a radiator powerhouse, with its cast iron plant manufacturing over 95% of all radiators in Poland. This makes the iron giant standing in the city’s centre not just any radiator but the radiator – instantly recognisable to every Pole. It’s the perfect embodiment of the notion of domestic heating.
Unfinished castle in Łapalice
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The unfinished castle in Łapalice, photo: Marian Naworski / Wikimedia.org
In 1983, Łapalice in Kaszuby saw the beginning of the construction of a 5,000-square-metre castle surrounded by a park complex. Unsurprisingly, the owner was not able to fulfil this, his childhood fantasy, as financial troubles and endless legal battles with the local authorities put an end to his dream project (his building permit provided only for a standard house). Today, the unfinished castle in Łapalice stands as a testament to the vivid imagination of its constructor: there are 365 windows, 52 rooms and 12 towers (representing not just months, but also the apostles). If that’s not enough for you, underneath a chapel the size of a medium church lies an enormous swimming pool.
As the state of the building deteriorated, it became dangerous for numerous visitors who entered the property illegally to marvel at what could have been, but the local authorities recently decided to turn the castle into a hotel. Maybe the unusual vision of the original owner will come to life after all…
The potato statue in Biesiekierz
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The year 1983 must have been a prime moment for Polish weirdness, because it also saw the construction of a statue of a potato in Biesiekierz. The village’s inhabitants are quite modest, because their local authorities claim that their statue is only ‘probably’ the biggest potato statue in the world. Whether it holds any records or not, it’s still impressive, totalling a height of nine metres, with the potato itself measuring almost four metres vertically.
As you might have guessed, potatoes occupy a very special place in the hearts of the people of Biesiekierz (and of all Poles, really), as the village’s surroundings are well known for their potato farms which provide employment for many inhabitants of the region. The statue itself was build to commemorate the creation of nine new potato varieties in the village.
A crooked forest near Gryfino
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The crooked forest in Gryfino, photo: Sebastian Wołosz / AG
Right outside the city of Gryfino in the northeast of Poland, you can find around a hundred curiously deformed pine trees. They have all been bent so much to one side that they have started growing parallel to the ground and only spring up towards the sky later. Nobody knows how their unusual shape came about – researchers have only been able to determine that they were planted sometime in the 1930s.
Most common theories claim that local inhabitants tried to grow trees that would provide the perfect material for building boats – the bent wood from the pines should make for great hulls. However, those with more supernatural interests suspect otherworldly interventions and mystical auras. Regardless of whether magic was actually at play here, the crooked forest is well worth a visit and will charm anybody wanting to experience it in person.
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Listing an entire city as a unique sight might be considered cheating, but Kłomino is definitely worth its own mention. Having served as a residential area for the Soviet Army soldiers stationed in nearby military bases, it was completely abandoned in 1992, when the Soviet Union collapsed and its military withdrew from Poland. Today, all that remains in Kłomino are empty buildings, but even these are slowly disappearing – some of them have been demolished to maintain safety, but others are regularly stripped down by people from the region.
Interestingly, the official census reported in 2012 that Kłomino still had 12 inhabitants, but those are mostly the elderly who stayed after the Soviet departure. Nevertheless, some optimists who have become enamoured with the city’s disquieting atmosphere believe that it will eventually be revived. Every couple of years, some ideas for its revitalisation are floated, but none have come to fruition so far. This is perhaps for the best – there are plenty of small, vibrant towns in Poland that are well worth a visit, but Kłomino’s desolate air makes it all the more unique.
A memorable mushroom
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The viewpoint in Łężeczki, pictured: the obelisk known as a 21st-century mushroom, photo: MOs810 / Wikimedia.org
on the road
trip to Poland
strange is this world
So far, this article has demonstrated that the most peculiar sights you can drive to in Poland are the results of admirable ambition, even if it could be said that this ambition was somewhat misplaced. The ‘21st-century mushroom’ is arguably the best example of this: it is a statue of a mushroom erected to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Sieraków Landscape Park, but its weirdness comes from a particular kind of opportunism exhibited by its creators.
As the park was established in 1991, the makers of the statue decided to unveil the mushroom exactly one minute after midnight on 1st January 2001, making it officially the first 21st-century monument in the world. You could try to argue that the mushroom is supposed to mock meaningless records and empty symbolism – but to be completely honest, it simply provides a good excuse to take a walk in the Sieraków Landscape Park and enjoy a magnificent view of Polish nature. What else would you need from a nice, relaxing trip?
Written by Michał Wieczorek, Jul 2020
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