Germany and Poland
A road trip to Germany and Poland took me and Hannes Hulstaert to many unknown places, with an even more special event at the end of our two-weeks vacation. A marriage of a far niece. She was going to marry her Polish husband a second time, but now in his homeland; Poland. We were invited as their photographers and with a big smile on our faces we left home.
First stop being Krampnitz in Germany, an urban location perfect for photos. After that we spend a few days in Berlin and by coincidence we had the real chance to watch the FIFA World Cup of Germany against Argentina, where Germany took the title of winner of the cup in 2014. It was a true experience to watch such a massive crowd in front of five big screens placed on a straight line towards the Brandenburger Tor in the street named Straße des 17. Juni.
As we moved on towards the Polish border at the north of Germany, we brought a visit to the largest hotel ever built by the ruler of the German Reich: Adolf Hitler, its name is Prora. Located near the Baltic Sea and the German harbour-city Sassnitz, just perfect for many foreigners and tourists.
Prora was designed to house 20,000 holidaymakers, under the ideal that every worker deserved a holiday at the beach. Each room of 5 by 2.5 metres was to have two beds, an armoire (wardrobe) and a sink. There were communal toilets, showers and ballrooms on each floor.
We quickly discovered that some building blocks were partly covered with scaffolding and ready to be renovated. A truly touristic paradise roughly 150 metres from the sea is soon to be called the beach resort of northern Germany.
With tourists all over the place we couldn’t get in and we did the local museum instead, after that we left to Poland.
Schwielowsee lake | Brandenburg, Germany
Urban Exploring in Germany
MVRDV – Expo 2000
This abandoned building in Hanover was the first of many on our way to Berlin and as my friend has a master degree in Architecture he really wanted to see this far forgotten glory.
“Holland creates Space” was the theme of the Expo in 2000.
A former training compound for the German army since 1937.
The Cavalry moved its school from Hanover to Krampnitz and it was also used as a driving training centre.
Abandoned by the Germans after the Second World War in April 26, 1945.
One day later the Soviet army took the site completely.
This entertainment park opened its doors in 1969 under the name Kulturpark Plänterwald right next to the Spree river.
It was the only constant entertainment park in the GDR, and the only such park in either East or West Berlin.
Under the Spreepark GmbH in 1991 some new attractions were added and visitor numbers reached 1.5 million per annum. Later the concept was changed and the park was gradually transformed into a more Western-style amusement park.
Entrance fee: adults: 29 DM, children: 27 DM.
Since 1999 the park has had to cope with large debts. The increase in the admission fee to 30 DM per person and a lack of parking space contributed to a drop in visitor numbers until in 2001 only 400,000 visitors entered the park.
In 2001 Spreepark GmbH announced that they were insolvent, which led to the closure of the site in 2002.
Prora is a beach resort on the island of Rügen, known especially for its colossal Nazi-planned tourist structures. The enormous building complex was built between 1936 and 1939 as a Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude or KdF) project. The eight buildings were identical, and although they were planned as a holiday resort, they were never used for this purpose. The complex has a formal heritage listing as a particularly striking example of Third Reich architecture.
Construction began in 1936 and during the few years that Prora was under construction, all major construction companies of the Reich and nearly 9,000 workers were involved in this project. With the onset of World War II in 1939, building on Prora stopped and the construction workers transferred to the V-Weapons plant at Peenemünde.
The eight housing blocks, the theatre and cinema stayed as empty shells, and the swimming pools and festival hall never materialised. During the Allied bombing campaign, many people from Hamburg took refuge in one of the housing blocks, and later refugees from the east of Germany were housed there. By the end of the war, these buildings housed female auxiliary personnel for the Luftwaffe.
A taste of Berlin
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Berliner Dom | Berlin Cathedral Church
How long is now
Sinkende Mauer | Sinking wall fountain by Christophe Girot
an unexpected surprise in Berlin
The 2014 FIFA World Cup was going on
We were surprised by big crowds of people in Berlin as we were going out to explore Germany’s capital, Berlin. Fans of the FIFA World Cup gathered in groups with their corresponding flags with the flag of Germany being the most present as it was the team of Germany playing against Argentina on that warm Sunday July 13. It was clear to us that it was about football and that Germany would play.
Although not being a real fan of football we still planned to check out the 5 massive screens in the Str. des 17. Juni looking over a ferris wheel and behind it the famous Brandenburger Tor. It was nearing the late evening and we pushed further into the massive crowd towards the biggest screen near the tower. It was crazy that we stranded here and we stopped at about 50 metres from the screen as it was just too crowded. The game was nearing its end and it looks like Germany is about to win with 1-0 to Argentina. Huray, let’s get out of here before everyone goes crazy! :p
Later we could enjoy a still empty Berlin and an awesome fireworks.
A taste of Poland
the Road trip continues
Gdańsk, Kraków, Katowice, Wroclaw
As we slowly move towards the middle of our holidays we enter Gdańsk with the Fiat Fiorino I’m driving. A sparkling white car with two dudes sitting at the front, me and my friend Hannes. Finding a guarded parking lot wasn’t all to hard, really. The city is crowded with tourists and local musicians play classical music to excite the many ears of all those people passing by. The weather was more than perfect with a warm sun high in the sky, it’s the right time for taking pictures and enjoying some museums and towers to get a marvellous view of the city.
Poland knows a lot of history and it has many different architectural influences from all over Europe. Mostly known for its typical Hanseatic housing style.
Kraków for sure, is a very beautiful and romantic city with history dating back to the 7th century. It is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Lesser Poland. The Main Market Square with the Renaissance Cloth Hall in the middle becomes alive at the arrival of nightfall and the young inhabitants enter the night by going out until the early morning.
Hanseatic city | Gdańsk, northern Poland
The ever-popular antique horse-drawn carriages of Krakow
Clock mechanism at the Saint Catherine’s Church in Gdańsk.
Which is the oldest parish church of the city, whose origins date back to the 12th century.
Urban Exploring in Poland
Abandoned factory with many silos, this was a lucky find as it was near the road I was driving on.
A Public Garage
Also this explore was a lucky find and it caught my eye as we were driving through the centre of Wrocław looking for a parking spot. Huge structure in naked concrete turned into a public garage was once a perfect plan to park lots of cars close to the nearby railway, but all in vain and simply left to rot. The entrance was pretty easy and in a split of a second we were standing on the rooftop enjoying a wonderful view of the city. Although its location wasn’t near the old medieval city centre, but right in the middle of a newer and poorer part of Wrocław. So the view of these nearby rooftops were not beautiful as such, the Gothic churches from Poland are beautiful to see and there are very nice ones in this city.
From church to salt mine
The church of Poland
Poland is known for its massive amount and beautiful churches all around the country.
From a small random Catholic church to the St. Mary’s Basilica and the Wawel cathedral in Kraków or the St. Mary’s church in Gdańsk, all of them are unique and worth a visit.
The St. Mary’s church in Gdańsk is said to be the largest brick shrine in Europe. Capable of holding 25 thousand people, the cathedral would have once been able to host the entire population of the city – it was, in fact the case at the time when it was raised. Its completion took some 160 years (1343-1502). During the preceding era of the Pomeranian princes, a small wooden church stood in its location.
There could hardly be a more exemplary monument of Polish culture, history, and faith than the Wawel cathedral. 37 coronation ceremonies took place here, beginning with the crowning of Władysław Łokietek in 1320, is just one of the many reasons to see it.
Wieliczka Salt MIne
The only salt mine in the world preserved in such pristine condition, which is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
A guided tour takes you downstairs to 135 metres leading to a maze of tunnels of up to 300 kilometres in length, small and large spaces packed with churches and don’t forget to admire its famous and breath-taking St. Kinga chapel. The total depth of the mine reaches up to 327 metres under the surface and the history of mining salt has continued since the Middle Ages until today.
Simply everything you see is made from salt, except the wooden framework to strengthen the many tunnels from collapsing.
We could even lick the walls and you guessed that right, it tasted salty.
The Polish/Belgian Wedding
Chocianów, a small village in south-western Poland, our last destination of the journey came finally in sight.
After two weeks of traveling it was time for the long awaiting wedding of my grandniece Nicky & her already Polish husband Mateusz. They married a year ago in Duffel, Belgium and wanted to marry for the Polish church a year later.
The weather was really great and everyone was getting ready for this lovely day. Me and Hannes with our cameras in hand could finally start taking pictures and lots of video to cover the whole day. In the end we had around 950 pictures and
The bride looking astonishingly beautiful in her white dress decorated with red roses and Mateusz was a looking good as well.
Such an event like this is all you need to finish a holiday and I want to thank everyone for their patience and cooperation during the whole day.
» Written by Alan who goes under the name of twin-rhino | Published on October 6, 2014