Poland and solidarity with Shakespeare

By | Category: Travel news
design for the Shakespeare Theatre in Gdansk

design for the Shakespeare Theatre in Gdansk

How popular a destination is Poland for those of us living in the UK and Ireland?

Given the availability of cheap flights to a number of Polish airports and that that so many Polish people or those with Polish ancestry live here, I was surprised to see that neither the UK nor Ireland was in the top three of visitor nations. Germany, Ukraine and Belarus fill those spots. Last year just 620,000 Brits visited Poland which was up 17% on the year before.

15.8 million visitors travelled to Poland last year – up by 7% over 2012 which was a busy year given that the country co-hosted Euro 2012. Tourism has flourished in the last ten years or so. The number of hotels available has more than doubled to 2,300 and an additional 300 kilometres of motorway was opened. This year another 380 kilometres will be opened. Try achieving that in the UK in any single year! Then there will be a motorway all the way from Berlin to Gdansk s the tourist authorities are expecting more Germans to visit Poland and Gdansk in particular. And railways are been upgraded and new airports opened. Poland has every intention of being one of the top tourist destination in Europe but unlike many, they are improving the infrastructure to deal with it.

But Britons have reasons to want to go to Gdansk this year as well. This year sees the 25th anniversary of Solidarity- the organisation led by Lech Walensa. So on August 31st in what used to be the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk they will open the European Solidarity Centre as a permanent exhibition and museum of the Solidarity union and the transformation of Eastern Europe from communism to democracy. Shaped like contours of a ship it is so different from another building that opens in the city this year.

The Shakespeare Theatre opens on September 19th and eight days later, the  Shakespeare Festival takes place. Before you wonder on the relationship between Poland and Shakespeare, you might be surprised to know that there had already been a Shakespearian theatre on exactly the same spot as the new one which was built in 1611, some five years before Shakespeare even died. We are aware of his cultural impact in the last century or so but during his own lifetime?

So, in a few weeks’ time when we celebrate the 450th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, Poles will be revering our playwright as well.

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