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Students immerse themselves in Polish history during unforgettable trip

Students pose outside a castle during their Religion, Philosophy and Ethics and History trip to Poland

Fifth Year pupils studying Religion, Philosophy and Ethics and History at GCSE spent a snowy, but unforgettable, time in the Polish city of Krakow.

The four-day, three-night excursion extends the work that pupils cover in class and gives them the opportunity to visit sites of historical and religious significance – allowing them to gain a more contextual understanding of the topics covered by the syllabus.

Following an early start to catch their flight, the pupils headed to the Christmas markets to have some lunch and get their bearings.

A tour of the Old Town with visits to the cathedral, castle and churches – such as the stunning St Mary’s Church – enlightened the pupils to the beauty of the city. Fifth Year pupil Dylan Cort noted: “The myths and legends behind many of the traditions in the town were fascinating, reflected in the architecture of the buildings themselves.”

The second day kicked off with a tour around the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz). The pupils noticed that very few synagogues remain in the town, despite its rich Jewish heritage, which reflects the horrors and destruction of the Holocaust.

Many Jewish places of worship have been defaced or demolished, yet the Remuh Synagogue, which the group were lucky to be able to visit, remains. The adjoining cemetery contains the graves of many significant historical figures.

The students then moved onto the site of the former Jewish ghetto, little of which still remains, where they inspected a very moving art installation commemorating the many Jewish lives that were destroyed as a result of Nazi persecution.

Schindler’s Factory Museum was the final venue for the day and the pupils found out more about the German industrialist and the people he employed and helped.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most infamous concentration camp in Europe, was the location for day three of the trip. Dylan noted: “To visit a place with such historical significance was both enlightening and disturbing. Walking upon the ground on which so many innocent people were beaten and killed was surreal, and indescribably melancholic.”

On the final day, the pupils left Krakow to take an immersive tour around the UNESCO-listed Wieliczka Salt Mines. The mines reach 327 metres deep and are filled with fascinating architecture and art. The pupils explored their surroundings and marvelled at the beautiful etched walls of the 13th century salt mines.

Reflecting on the trip, Dylan concluded: “This once in a life time trip was filled with enjoyable and moving memories that none of us are going to forget. We were very lucky to go on this trip and Krakow is a city that every student should see.”

The Religion, Philosophy and Ethics and History departments have launched the 2023 trip. The tour is scheduled for Wednesday 13th to Saturday 16th December 2023 for current Fourth Year pupils and parents should register their child’s interest via Wisepay by Friday 3rd February.