Famous people

Poland’s citizens have always been present in the world’s history. All of them have made a lasting contribution towards creating a better world. These people have inspired others by their various achievements but also their attitude and values. And all of them have influenced a world far beyond their country's boundary.

John Paul II (1920-2005)
John Paul II (1920-2005)
Faustyna Kowalska
Faustyna Kowalska (1905 – 1938)
Maximilian Kolbe
Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)
Jerzy Popieluszko (1947 –1984)
Jerzy Popieluszko (1947 –1984)
Fryderyk Chopin
Fryderyk Chopin
Maria Sklodowska – Curie
Maria Sklodowska – Curie
Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus
Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855)
Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855)
Czeslaw Milosz
Czeslaw Milosz
(1911 – 2004)
  Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012)
Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012)
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933- )
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933- )
Lech Walesa
Lech Walesa
(1943-)

John Paul II (1920-2005)

Probably the most famous Pole ever, Pope John Paul II was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in the small town of Wadowice in Poland. By being elected pope by the Catholic Church in 1978, he became the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. This pope modernised the papacy and spread his reach internationally through massive gathering s of Catholics and frequent consultations with heads of state.

Fryderyk Chopin

One of the greatest Romantic musicians of all times, Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin is a name to reckon with in the realms of music. This Polish-born, Paris-dwelling composer's love liaison with music resulted in over 200 fine compositions that are still heard and admired by the music lovers across the globe. Chopin's music might appear deceptively simple, but they were, in fact, highly complex and challenging. Lyrical, lovely and poetic as well as harmonically intricate and technically challenging — this is Chopin's music for you.

Maria Skłodowska-Curie

Maria Skłodowska-Curie (1867-1934), renowned Polish physicist and chemist. She lived and worked in France. She was the first woman professor at the Sorbonne. Together with her husband, Pierre Curie, she discovered polonium and radium in 1898. She was twice awarded the Nobel Prize: in 1903 for physics (jointly with her husband) for research on natural radiation, and in 1911 in chemistry, for the extraction of pure radium. In 1995 her body was laid in the Pantheon in Paris as the first woman ever.

Nicolaus Copernicus

Also known as the founder of modern astronomy, Nicolaus Copernicus was the first person to devise a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. Copernicus’ heliocentric theory acted as the catalyst for the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, which is sometimes known as the Copernican revolution. His work forever changed the place of man in the cosmos; no longer could man legitimately think his importance greater than his fellow creatures. Besides an astronomer he was also a great mathematician, physician, quadrilingual polyglot, classical scholar, translator and artist.

Lech Walesa (1943-)

Lech Wałęsa (born 1943) - trade union leader, politician, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1983, President of the Republic of Poland (1990-1995). He holds honorary degrees from several universities, including Harvard, Columbia and Gdańsk. Lech Wałęsa is also a honorary citizen of many cities in Poalnd. In 1980 he was the leader of the strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard, and later became head of the Inter-Factory Strike Committee. From 1980 to 1981 he was head of the Solidarity National Committee. He took part in negotiations with the Communist authorities, the outcome of which was the agreement reached at the Round Table talks in 1989. In 1990 he was elected leader of the Solidarity trade union. He is the author of several autobiographical books, 'Droga nadziei' (A Path of Hope, 1987), and 'Droga do wolności' (The Path to Freedom, 1991). The International Airport in Gdańsk has been named after Lech Wałęsa. Lech Wałęsa appears in many clips of world-known performers like Michael Jackson, The Scorpions, and served as an inspiration for U2's "New Year's Day" song.

Faustyna Kowalska (1905 – 1938)

Apostle of Divine Mercy, Prophet of Our Times, Great Mystic, Mistress of Spiritual Life – these are the epithets usually appended to the name of Sister Faustyna Kowalska, St. Faustyna (Faustina), of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Sister Faustina is one of the Church’s most popular and widely known saints and the greatest mystics in the history of the Church.

Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)

A Franciscan priest who encouraged devotion to Mary and was committed to praying for those hostile to the Church. In 1941, he was arrested for sheltering Jews and sent to Auschwitz. He volunteered to take the place of a man condemned to death.

Jerzy Popieluszko (1947 –1984)

Jerzy Popieluszko was a Roman Catholic priest from Poland, associated with the Solidarity union. He was murdered by three agents of the Polish internal intelligence agency, the Służba Bezpieczeństwa, (English: Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) who were shortly thereafter tried and convicted of the murder. He has been recognized as a martyr by the Catholic Church, and was beatified on June 6, 2010.

Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855)

Undoubtedly, he is considered one of the greatest poets and writers in Polish literature, wieszcz narodowy (national bard). His fame can be compared to Shakespeare. He is the author of a lot of works: Sonety Krymskie (The Crimean Sonnets), Reduta Ordona (Ordon's Redoubt), Konrad Wallenrod, Dziady (Forefathers' Eve) consisting of three parts, Oda do młodości (Ode to Youth), Ballady i romanse (Ballads and Romances).

Czeslaw Milosz (1911 – 2004)

Polish writer and poet. He defected to the West in 1951, writing a classic anti-Stalinist book ‘The Captive Mind’ (1953) He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980. Returned to Poland after the fall of Communism.

Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012)

Polish poet, essayist. She received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. She has been described as the ‘Mozart of Poland’ Her poetry was noted for its ironic precision, irony and ambiguity.

Krzysztof Penderecki (1933- )

He cannot be omitted as he belongs to contemporary composers and musicians who create Polish classical music. It can be said that he became generally popular and admired when he took part in a famous Polish festival Warszawska Jesień (Warsaw Autumn) where he presented his works Strofy (Strophes), Psalmy Dawida (David's Psalms) and Emanacje (Emanations).