With its detailed descriptions illustrated with contemporary and archival photographs, the National Heritage Institute’s portal Zabytek.pl encourages expeditions to Poland – both in real life and online.
Working on an international scale, this innovative service draws us closer to the past and allows us to appreciate its unique value. The portal is directed at a variety of users – researchers, students, tourists, and lovers of architecture and history.
The modern, functional portal provides professionally prepared descriptions of monuments, enriched by galleries of contemporary and archival photographs. Entries include architectural objects, historical monuments, archaeological sites, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Searching the database is intuitive and enjoyable. Users can explore the portal through a number of filters, depending on their interest: planning a holiday or cultural trip, organizing research, or searching for interesting objects on a historical timeline.
The ‘Collections’ tab, which groups objects in thematic categories such as heritage of the Old-Polish industrial region, castles of Mazovian dukes, or wooden churches of southern Poland, might be of particular interest to perspective travellers.
The variety of journeys to be explored is diverse. Those thinking of a trip through Wielkopolska might browse the gallery of ‘Greater Poland Landowner Estates.’ This collection features twenty-nine palaces, mansions, and parks that are integral to this part of the country, including modest headquarters and impressive mansions like Rogalin and Gołuchów – also, importantly, the palace in Antonin associated with Fryderyk Chopin.
The portal also offers inspiration for those planning a journey to the Bieszczady Mountains. In addition to hiking, perhaps a detour to some historic buildings? The collection ‘Wooden Catholic and Orthodox Churches of the Podkarpacie Region’ offers forty-five sites, among which are monuments recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The most important sites in the area are those in Bilzne, Haczów, Chotyniec, Radruż, Smolnik, and Turzańsk.
Those interested in mining and metallurgy will delight in the collection ‘Heritage of the Old-Polish Industrial Region’, which features thirteen sites waiting to impress visitors. Some of the plants presented survived and functioned until recent times (the blast furnace plant complex in Starachowice, the industrial plant complex in Maleniec, the remnants of a post-industrial complex in Wąchock) and the plant in Białogon operates to this day.
For those already in Poland, the option of a ‘Nearby Objects’ search might lead to an impromptu excursion to explore the architectural heritage around them. Linking to the site with a mobile phone, users can get information on the shortest route to the selected destination.
Whether for those traveling to Poland or browsing the website anywhere in the world, Zabytek.pl brings to life the fascinating world of the past, which might otherwise be lost to dry descriptions in overlooked catalogues. Technology offers a glimpse of history in a new form – viewers can interact with the database, viewing 3D models and point clouds. The CUMULUS application – a solution adopted by the Naitonal Heritage Institute – is particularly innovative. The 3D models can be moved, analysed, and stored on users’ computers.
The portal represents cooperation between experts and enthusiasts. The wealth of information is complimented with photos from the community project Wiki Loves Monuments, over which National Heritage Institute exercised patronage in 2011-2014.
Zabytek.pl is administered by the National Heritage Institute.
Sources: submitted materials; ed. M.Ś, 05.2016; ed. and trans. AGA, 02.08.2016