Poland 1: At the Confluence of European Cultures

EVENTS > STUDY TRIPS ABROAD > Poland 1: At the Confluence of European Cultures


May 22 – 31, 2016

With an optional extension: The Grandeur of Gdansk and Pomerania
May 31 – June 3

This is a rare and special opportunity to spend 10 days exploring a country seldom visited by American groups. Straddling the divide between eastern and western Europe, Poland has witnessed a rich and varied history. Extensive development funded by the Catholic church in the medieval period resulted in magnificent gothic ecclesiastical and secular structures. The country experienced a second golden era between the 16th and 18th centuries when a burgeoning aristocracy benefited from a robust economy fueled by mining and grain production and developed connections stretching from the Baltic to the Black to the Mediterranean Sea. This latter period resulted in an extensive building campaign seen in the remarkable selection of renaissance, baroque, and neoclassical edifices included in this tour. These extraordinary sites will be interpreted by our talented and knowledgeable guide, the art historian Christine Rostworowski, a Brit who has lived, taught, and researched in Poland for 30 years, Frances Roxburgh of Specialtours, and a host of museum directors and curators.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Sunday, May 22

We gather at the lovely Sofitel in Wroclaw and set out to explore the vestiges of Silesian, Habsburg, and Prussian rule. An afternoon walking tour includes the large Market Square, the famous gothic Town Hall, and the Raclawice Panorama, a painted scene of the 1794 victory of Polish forces over Russian invaders. Dr. Beate Lejman, curator of decorative arts, will introduce the National Museum’s acclaimed collections of Silesian ceramics and glass.

D included
Overnight: WROCLAW

Monday, May 23

Our day begins with a tour of the baroque Aula Leopoldina, the assembly hall of Wroclaw University, built 1728-41 and featuring extraordinary gilt stuccowork and paintings. In stark contrast, our second stop is the landmark modernist building Centennial Hall of 1911-13, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the afternoon we venture to the area’s earliest bishopric settlement, Ostrow Tumski on the Odra River, to visit the eclectic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. We then head to Swidnica to enjoy the 17th-century timber-framed Protestant Church of Peace, one of two built in 1648 after the Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years’ War. An independent evening provides an opportunity to take in a concert during Wroclaw’s spring music festival.

B, L included
Overnight: WROCLAW

Tuesday, May 24

Departing Wroclaw by coach with luggage, we venture off the beaten path to Malojowice to enjoy the gothic Church of Jacob and its extraordinary 14th-century frescoes, then continue to the charming village of Brzeg to tour the Castle of the Dukes of Legnica-Brzeg, a late-16th-century renaissance palace. Upon arrival in Krakow at the attractive Hotel Copernicus on Kanoniciza, considered the city’s most beautiful street, we set out on an introductory walking tour, highlighted by a visit to St. Mary’s Church with its spectacular sandstone crucifix by renowned renaissance sculptor Veit Stoss.

B, L, D included
Overnight: KRAKOW

Wednesday, May 25

Our morning commences with a tour of the gothic Collegium Maius and Museum of the Jagiellonian University, established in 1364. Dr. Marian Wolski, President of the Czartoryski Foundation, will introduce highlights of the private Czartoryski collection, which includes significant decorative arts and historic artifacts as well as works by da Vinci and Rembrandt. The afternoon concludes with a tour of the National Museum’s acclaimed decorative arts galleries. In the evening we will be treated to a Chopin recital at the Krakow Academy of Music by award-winning pianist and State Professor of Music Mariola Cieniawa.

B, L included
Overnight: KRAKOW

Thursday, May 26

The day opens with a walk to Wawel Hill, the medieval fortified core of Krakow, to visit the Cathedral, resplendent with royal tombs and chapels, as well as the Royal Castle, one of the most majestic renaissance residences in central Europe, built 1502-36. The director, Dr. Fabianski, will show us the Royal Apartments, including the renaissance furnishings and renowned tapestry collection of Sigismund Augustus. Following lunch, participants will have an afternoon at leisure during which they can opt for outings to Auschwitz or the salt mines in Wieliczka, which were a primary source of royal income. In the evening, our delightful guide, Christine Rostworowski, and her husband, Boguslaw, have graciously invited us for drinks at his ancestral home, Palac Popielow.

B, L, D included
Overnight: KRAKOW

Friday, May 27

A morning first class train will whisk us to Warsaw while providing an excellent chance to admire the countryside. We transfer to the sumptuous Hotel Regina before departing on a walking tour of the Old Town and a film about the city’s near-total destruction during World War II. Warsaw’s meticulous five-year reconstruction was guided by detailed paintings by Bellotto, which we will see, along with other delights, during a tour of the Royal Castle with the director, Dr. Zamecnik.

B, L included
Overnight: WARSAW

Saturday, May 28

We spend the day visiting magnificent sites outside of Warsaw, beginning with the late-17th-century Wilanow Palace and park, built for the illustrious monarch Jan Sobieski, where our guide is former curator Anna Ekielska-Mardal. After lunch, we continue to Lazienki Palace, an equally impressive 18th-century neoclassical complex of buildings and gardens developed as the summer residence of Stanislaw August Poniatowski.

B, L included
Overnight: Warsaw

Sunday, May 29

The day includes another venture to the countryside and the charming neoclassical manor of Tulowice, lovingly restored after decades of neglect by the architect and equine artist Andrzej Novak-Zemplinski. Our group continues to Nieborow Palace, built in 1690-96 by the Dutch architect Tylman van Gameren and later owned by the Radziwill family. The interior has many treasures, including an exquisite collection of decorative and fine arts. In the afternoon, we enjoy the nearby Arkadia, a magnificent landscape park of 1778 with sophisticated classical pavilions and ornaments.

B, L included

Monday, May 30

Our formal itinerary concludes with a special private visit to Otwock Palace, another spectacular baroque structure by van Gameren, for an extensive exploration with the collections curator, which will include a rare tour of the furniture study rooms. Following a free afternoon, we will gather for a festive closing dinner in celebration of our visit to this magnificent country little visited by Americans.

B, D included
Overnight: Warsaw

Tuesday, May 31

Transfers to the Warsaw airport for flights home or by coach to Gdansk for the optional extension (see below).

B included

Optional Extension: The Grandeur of Gdansk and Pomerania

Tuesday, May 31

Those Trust members electing to extend their trip to the northern Polish region of Pomerania will encounter a landscape akin to Scandinavia. We leave Warsaw by coach following the Vistula River to Torun, the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus. The city is renowned for its architecture, which dates back to the monastic Teutonic Knights’ initial settlement in 1233 and survived World War II relatively unscathed. We will enjoy a walking tour with stops at the late-14th-century Town Hall and the gothic Church of the Virgin Mary, built for Franciscan monks in 1270-1300. Our second stop en route is the charming town of Chelmo, the Knights’ first settlement in the region, with a magnificent late-renaissance Town Hall. Upon arrival in Gdansk, we check in at the splendid Hotel Gdansk and then enjoy an independent evening.

B, L included

Wednesday, June 1

Gdansk, an inland port, flourished under the Knights prior to becoming a member of the Hanseatic League in the late 14th century. Our day opens with a walking tour that includes the busy canals and old mills, the Church of St. Mary with its famous 1464 astronomical clock, the Long Market, the Dutch mannerist Arsenal, and the Town Hall, on Gdansk’s most attractive street, Dlugi Targ. We continue to the fine Highland Gate of 1571-76, marking the beginning of the Royal Way, with sculptures in the Italian renaissance and northern mannerist styles, as well as the Green Gate. A coach then takes us on an afternoon excursion to the elegant Baltic resort of Sopot, established in the early 19th century. We return by way of the 13th-century Cistercian Oliwa Cathedral, where we enjoy a brief recital on its famous late-18th-century organ with 7,896 pipes.

B, D included

Thursday, June 2

We leave by coach for the Castle of the Teutonic Knights at Malbork. Following the Crusades, monastic and military orders were resettled around Europe to strengthen Christianity in strategic areas. Malbork was an extensive fortified monastery begun in 1309, with the impressive Palace of the Grand Master completed in 1399, when it stood as one of the most imposing structures in medieval Europe. Malbork also houses an admirable amber collection, dating from the Neolithic period through today. We return to Gdansk for a free afternoon, possibly with a visit to the Maritime Museum or National Museum, and our (second) farewell dinner.

B, L, D included

Friday, June 3

Depart for the Gdansk airport and connections back to the States.

B included

Terms and Conditions

Land Arrangement Cost:
$5,975 per person, based on double occupancy for 9 nights, for the main tour. Please note that this excursion is one day longer than the Trust’s typical Study Trip Abroad.

$2,075 per person, based on double occupancy for 3 nights, for the optional extension to Gdansk.

Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation from the Trust.

A deposit of $1,400 per person is required by September 1, 2015. An additional deposit of $600 per person is required for the optional extension to Gdansk. Reservations and deposits are taken on an “as received” basis. You will receive a written confirmation from the Decorative Arts Trust. Do not make any irrevocable airline reservations until you receive your verification. Please make your check payable to “The Decorative Arts Trust” and mail to: 20 South Olive Street, Suite 304, Media, PA 19063.

Single Supplement:
The single supplement is $1,050 for the main tour and $200 for the extension, to be paid along with the deposit.

Final Payment:
Is due by January 31, 2016. Invoices for final payment will be mailed in early January.

A Benefactor-level membership is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is fully tax deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.

A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted for at this time but subject to change as necessary. A Study Trip Abroad reading list will be sent to you.

The trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The optional extension to Gdansk requires a minimum of 10 participants. The trip and/or extension will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. We will organize and maintain a waiting list on the basis of the time registrations are received. This is a strenuous trip. We regret that we cannot be responsible for those needing assistance on this trip. By registering, you are certifying that you do not have any mental, physical, or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for yourself or other passengers. The Trust reserves the right to decline anyone as a participant in this Study Trip Abroad should the person’s health, actions, or general deportment impede the operation of the Study Trip Abroad or the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of others. A valid United States passport is required for this itinerary.

Included in Trip Cost:
Hotel accommodations in 4–5 star hotels, 8 buffet breakfasts, 7 lunches, 3 dinners, 1 reception, private coach transportation, local guides, admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens, gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers, and porterage for one suitcase only. The extension to Gdansk includes 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners.

Not Included in the Trip Cost:
Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included.

Cancellation and Refund:
If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to the Decorative Arts Trust. All cancellations are subject to a $250 administrative fee. Deposits are non-refundable after September 1, 2015.

  • Cancellations arriving by February 26, 2015, will receive a 50% refund.
  • Cancellations arriving by April 8, 2016, will receive a 25% refund.
  • There will be no refunds for cancellations received after April 8, 2016.

Travel insurance is strongly recommended to protect against cancellations. 

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