History of the castles in Poland
Poland is the biggest country of the Eastern Europe excluding Russia. First castles were built here as early as the X century by kings and princes. First as a wooden structures, but from the XIII century from bricks and stones as a seats of the state power, as the residences or for the military purposes. Arrival of the Teutonic knights to the North East Of Poland and their push to dominate the region is today visible tens of gothic, built from brick castles.
Through its rich and turbulent history Poland had a period, where united with Lithuania and in its territory with parts of today’s Slovakia, the whole Ukraine, Belarus, part of Russia, part of Estonia and Latvia, Poland was the biggest and one of the most powerful countries on the European continent. Many castles were built of defensive character near the country’s borders. At the same time in the XVI and XII century castles in the centre of Poland had increasingly resident ional character. In that time this powerful republic, where king was elected by the nobles in free elections, was under the constant Russian, Swedish, Prussian, Turkish attacks against its power and authority in this part of Europe, but could still resist these pressures.
The XVIII century brought quick raise to power of the big centrally organized Tsarist Russia, Habsburg Empire of Austria and Kingdom of Prussia. Amazingly, this is the time where many palaces were built and especially in the second half of the XVII century, many interesting residences were built of clearly cultural and entertaining character. In a series of treaties between 1772 and 1795, these states divided Poland amongst themselves. In the XIX century Poland remained occupied. Restoration of the castles, patriotic character of the residences testify today to the patriotism of their owners.
Poland regained its independence only in 1918 to be again partitioned by Germany and the Soviet Union at the beginning of the World War II in 1939. Many castles were ruined during the war. Warsaw has been burnt and buildings destroyed in 84%.
Despite the heroic efforts during the WWII to stay independent, Poland became a Soviet satellite state after the war. Still, the patriotic ambition to reconstruct monuments of the better past brought many of the castles back to life. The last big reconstruction was in the 1970-ties when the non-existing, blown up by the Germans in November of 1944, Royal Castle in Warsaw has been rebuilt.
Workers unrest in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" that in a years to come became a decisive political force in the country, and by 1989 pushed the communists to give up power. Today democratic, Poland joined the European Union in 2004. Because of its natural resources and a great number of historical buildings, Poland is an attractive country for tourism.
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