Poland: A Travel Guide Through Time. #1 Elbląg, a great small city of old

Poland: A Travel Guide Through Time. #1 Elbląg, a great small city of old

Although many newcomers complained about the conditions of traveling in the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, let us not be discouraged by these reports. Let’s mount the horse, get into the carriage, or, in the case of an empty purse, set off on foot on a journey north, to the early modern Royal Prussia. Our guide will be Anton Friedrich Büsching’s geography textbook from the 18th century.

“If there was no Rome, then Kraków would be Rome.” Incredible relation of the Italian traveler from the 16th-century capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

“If there was no Rome, then Kraków would be Rome.” Incredible relation of the Italian traveler from the 16th-century capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Cardinal Caetani was sent to Poland with a mission of extreme importance. This delegate of Pope Clement VIII was to persuade the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to become involved in the activities of the Holy League against the Ottoman Empire. One of the members of the legation, the papal ceremonial master Giovanni Mucante, left a diary after this visit. Inside we can find a fantastic description of the 16th-century Kraków, so we can travel back in time to the capital of the…

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Werewolves in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Werewolves in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Our ancestors were faced with numerous dangers, hidden in the dark on the border between reality and fantasy. Witches made pacts with the devil, strigoi, or revenants returning to the world of the living were a real threat for people as a plague or the enemy’s army marching through the land. In the catalog of impure forces marauding the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, there is a place for a monster that rules the human imagination also today: a werewolf.

The quest to conquer the skies. First balloons in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

The quest to conquer the skies. First balloons in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

From the dawn of time, men have fantasized about the ability to fly. The Greek myth about Icarus and Daedalus and their artificial wings, entrenched in our collective identity, influenced the imagination of continuous generations of Europeans. In the second half of the 18th century, humanity took a giant leap towards conquering the skies, and Europe went crazy over a new phenomenon: ballooning.

Basilisk, the terror of the old Warsaw

Basilisk, the terror of the old Warsaw

Danger lurks at every corner. People trembled at the thought of war or a silently creeping deadly plague, and each natural disaster meant uncertainty and a struggle to survive. Apart from those threats, our ancestors feared the very tangible Evil lurking in the shadows on the verge of reality. The dead returning from the afterlife and the monsters hiding in the vast forests were as real as a flood or drought. It was not only a fairy tale of peasants,…

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The Polish School of Oriental Languages in 18th century Istanbul

The Polish School of Oriental Languages in 18th century Istanbul

For centuries, the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Ottoman Empire has been intertwined. The border between the two countries was uneasy, and the stake of competition was control over the lands lying in the Black Sea basin. The Tatar invasions kept the Polish king awake, while the Sultan had a similar problem with the Zaporozhian Cossack excursions. However, in times of peace, trade and cultural exchange flourished. Nevertheless, it was hard to find competent translators…

The legacy of the old friendship. Hungarian loan words in the Polish language

The legacy of the old friendship. Hungarian loan words in the Polish language

The Polish-Hungarian friendship is still present in the collective psyches of both nations. Although, contrary to popular opinion, relations between the countries were sometimes tense (it is enough to mention the politics of Gábor Bethlen or Imre Thököly), the state border between the two kingdoms was exceptionally peaceful. This was reflected in the mutual penetration of cultures.

Bear Academy in the Lithuanian wilderness

Bear Academy in the Lithuanian wilderness

The town of Smorgonie, although small, was a picturesque place. Located on the left bank of the Wilia River, Smorgonie was one of the points on an important trade route connecting Królewiec, Vilnius, and Moscow. The town was located at the junction of two worlds: Lithuanian (and thus Catholic) and Ruthenian (Orthodox). In the 17th century, another element was added to this colorful mosaic: the bear training school.

Inside the old kitchen #1 What did the inhabitants of the Commonwealth eat?

Inside the old kitchen #1 What did the inhabitants of the Commonwealth eat?

Foreign cuisine always fascinates us. Intuitively, we know what to expect from French, Portuguese, or Italian cuisine. In the past centuries, just like today, learning about culinary habits was an essential part of the journey. Let’s sneak into the old kitchen and see what inhabitants of the Polish-Lithuanian  Commonwealth did eat!