Polish culture is rich and has had a long history of producing amazing people. These famous Polish people have contributed to the world in so many ways. From music to science, these Poles are responsible for some of our favourite things!
Read about Famous People from Poland.
The Most Famous Poles
Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikołaj Kopernik)
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543) revolutionized the way we understand our solar system – he studied astronomy and mathematics at Kraków’s Jagiellonian University. Born in Polish City- Torun in 1472 – Copernicus is widely known for his discovery that the Earth revolves around the sun. Copernicus is the founder of modern astronomy.
Fryderyk Chopin (Fryderyk Szopen)
Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849) is one of the most famous Polish people. He was the greatest composer and pianist, but he also had many other talents including being a poet, writer, and painter. His work has influenced so much music that we know today!
Chopin died in France but he felt Polish and he wanted to be buried in Poland since at that time it was not common to move the body, Chopin was buried in France and his heart was put in a jar, transported to Warsaw, where was buried in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.
Marie Curie ( Maria Skłodowska Curie )
Maria Skłodowska Curie was born in Warsaw on 7th November 1867 as Maria Skłodowska and became a pioneering researcher into radioactivity – her work led to the development of treatments for cancer. She too studied at the University of Krakow, but later also attended university in Paris where she met Pierre Curie with whom she shared an award in 1903 for their discovery that radium can be used as an effective treatment against tumours
Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. Known as the “mother of nuclear physics”
Maria Skłodowska Curie was a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who discovered the two elements, radium and polonium. She made her first discoveries in 1898 of new elements which she later named “radium” and “polonium.”
Her work with her husband Pierre Curie led to the discovery of radium and polonium.
In 1903, she was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics with her husband Pierre for their work on radioactive substances.
She was the first person from Continental Europe to win a Nobel Prize in science, and is widely regarded as one of the most talented scientists in history. she was as well the only woman who got two Nobel Prizes
She was also an ardent supporter of women’s rights and she became known for often providing professional opportunities to other females that were unavailable to them otherwise.
Pope John Paul II
Probably one of the most famous Polish people was Pope John Paul II. He was born in Wadowice as Karol Józef Wojtyła, Poland and he became the first non-Italian Catholic Pope as well as one of the most famous people on Earth. Served as pope from 1978 until 2005. One of his lasting achievements was his role in transforming Europe by increasing freedom, democracy, and human rights within its borders, As well as improving relations between Catholic Church and Islam and Judaism.
Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who during the Holocaust saved over 2500 Jewish children by getting them out of the Warsaw ghetto or finding new families that could care for them. Her heroism was recognized with an award from Yad Vashem
Famous Polish Directors
Andrzej Wajda is a great Polish director and screenwriter who has had international success.
He is considered one of Poland’s most important filmmakers, along with Kazimierz Karabasz and Andrzej Munk. In 2000 he was awarded an honorary Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for lifetime achievement as “the embodiment of a true artist and creative force in world cinema.”
He is the only Polish director to have won the Golden Lion, for his 1975 film “The Promised Land” (Polish: Zaniewka). Two years later he was awarded an honorary Oscar.
Krzysztof Kieślowski was a Polish film-maker with an impressive resume of work. His most famously known films are the Ten Commandments series and his trilogy, “Three Colors.”
These movies are called Blue – which means optimism and hope; White- symbolizing innocence in the face of evil or guilt; Red- with themes such as sacrifice, betrayal and freedom from tyranny.
I could watch his movies again and again
Agnieszka Holland is a Polish director and producer.
She is famous for her work in Hollywood, directing and producing many films like In Darkness, EuroTrip, The Secret Garden and I Don’t Know How She Does It which was a success at the box office.
One of her movie Europe Europe (1990, Golden Globe) is my favourite movie about Second World War.
Roman Polanski is a producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers.
Roman Polański was born on 18 August 1933 in Paris to Polish Jewish Family. His family fled to Poland from France in 1937, when he was four years old. Polanski spent much of his childhood in Poland before the Nazi invasion and World War II
He is best known for directing the films “Repulsion”, “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Pianist”. Roman Polanski has won three Academy Award: Best Director for The Pianist (2002), Best Adapted Screenplay for Chinatown (1974) and before that, one as a producer of Tess (1979). He also received an Oscar nomination for his film Death and the Maiden in 1994 which was directed by Roman Polanski.
Married to actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered by the Manson Family
Paweł Pawlikowski is one of the most talented directors in Poland. His film “Ida” was announced as this year’s best foreign-language film in 2015, he got nominated again with Cold War in 2018.
Famous Polish Scientist
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, (born 1686 in Gdańsk city Poland – died 1736 Dutch Republic) Polish-born (Gdansk) was a physicist, astronomer and mathematician scientist and inventor of the first alcohol thermometer. He is best known for his mercury-based temperature scale that still remains popular to this day in America.
The late Polish doctor Zbigniew Religa (1938 – 2009) was a pioneer in human heart transplantation in Poland. He led the team that performed the first successful heart transplantation and he was also one of three surgeons who pioneered artificial valve grafting from materials taken from corpses!
Famous Poles Writers
Henryk Sienkiewicz was a Polish novelist and Nobel laureate who wrote: “Quo Vadis” which became an international bestseller. He published over 20 books on political history, economy, sociology, philosophy.
“Quo Vadis” tells an epic story that illustrates what life must have been like at this time under Emperor Nero who reigned from 54 AD until 68AD During these times, Christians were persecuted because they refused to worship Rome’s pagan gods This book shares their struggle with us
Adam Mickiewicz (1798) is widely considered to be one of Poland’s greatest poets. His most popular work being “Dziady” (“Forefathers’ Eve”) – an epic poem that explores subjects like historic battles between Poles, Lithuanians, Swedes and Russians; its rhyming patterns were acknowledged by critics form
Wisława Szymborska is one of the greatest Polish poets.
She was born in 1923 and died on February 23, 2012 at age eighty-eight. She is probably best known for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature (1996) as well as being awarded honorary degrees from many prestigious universities including Harvard University.
Szymborska’s poems are written with a very simple language without complicated metaphors or obscure poetic devices; they talk about topics like death, love and childhood memories among others which makes them attractive to readers across all languages and cultures. Her writing reflects her interest in people’s emotions more than their physical surroundings:
Ryszard Kapuściński is one of the best Polish journalist and writer famous for his non-fiction writing about Africa.
Ryszard Kapuściński was born in 1936 in the town of Łódź, Poland to an intellectual family. ; he attended Warsaw University and studied law before becoming a full time journalist. Kapuściński’s first major work “The Emperor” (1978) tells the story of Haile Selassie I, Ethiopia’s last emperor from birth until exile by the Derg military regime following their overthrow of his Imperial government on September 12th 1974. It won various awards including France’s Prix du Monde Diplomatique which it shared with Carlos Fuentes, and the Polish Academy of Literature’s Golden Laurel. Kapuściński was awarded the French Legion d’honneur in 1986 for his reporting on Ethiopia.
Józef Kosiński was one of Poland’s best writers and he often wrote about important social issues like fascism, communism, religion, or lack thereof. His work has been translated into more than 40 languages so that people around the world can read his words!
Helena Rubinstein (Chaja)
Helena Rubinstein (Chaja) is a Polish-born American businesswoman, philanthropist and socialite. She is best known for her work in the field of beauty, designing cosmetics that were sold all over the world at affordable prices. She came from poverty and become one of the richest women.
Helena Rubinstein has made some major contributions to society! The most notable are: inventing nail polish with 3 coats so you don’t have to wait as long before applying your second coat; introducing lipsticks in dark colors like reds, browns, plums…you name it – she had something for everyone’s taste; popularizing eye make up by making eyeliners thinner than ever before (and still easy enough to apply) while also adding mascara on top of eyeshadow just because why not?
Famous Polish Politician
Jan III Sobieski
King Jan III Sobieski is one of the greatest Polish monarchs. He was a military genius who lead his country to victory in its historic Battle with Ottoman Turkey – The Turkish Siege on Vienna, which saved Europe from occupation by Muslim forces. Much like many other important battles that shaped Western Civilization’s history and culture; we owe our freedom today to these brave men!
Józef Klemens Piłsudski – was a Polish statesman who was the leader of the Second Polish Republic from 1918 to 1935 and served as prime minister in 1919-1920 and 1926.
Poland regained independence after 123 years under Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian occupation. Piłsudski became a National hero for Poles through his role in achieving that goal at the end of World War I. His coup in 1926 established a period of authoritarian rule known as the “Sanacja”.
Tadeusz Kościuszko born in 1746 is an important figure in Polish history. He is considered to have been one of the forerunners for Poland’s freedom, independence and liberation from foreign rule.
In 1776 he volunteered to fight for the United States of America, with his army besting the British forces at Saratoga. In recognition, Tadeusz Kościuszko was granted full American citizenship by Congress prior to joining George Washington’s staff as one of two foreign liaison-officers (the other being Pierre L’Enfant). He is also known for designing West Point military academy.
Tadeusz Kościuszko died in 1817, and he is buried at the Pułaski Monument.
Lech Wałęsa was born on September 29th 1943 in Popowo, Poland. He is a well-known and respected Polish politician who served as the first democratically elected president of post-communist Poland from 1990 to 1995.
During the 1980s he became an increasingly prominent dissident, initiating what came to be known as the Polish Round Table Talks in 1989.
He was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to world peace and is seen by many Poles as an important historic figure who helped bring about a free Poland.
Donald Tusk is a Polish politician who has served as the Prime Minister of Poland since 2007. He was also president of the European Council from 2014-2019, and oversaw some major changes to how Europe operates within that time
Polish famous Sportsman
Robert Lewandowski is the best Polish football player and the captain of the Polish National Team who plays for Bayern Munich in Bavaria, Germany. He has been the top scorer of Poland’s Ekstraklasa since 2010 and he was also named to the UEFA Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament as one of two strikers on Poland’s National team. In 2014 FIFA World Cup, he scored four goals from five attempts against Portugal (during group stage), became an all-time leading scorer at the international level with 16 goals from 22 appearances with his country.
Agnieszka Radwanska – female tennis player with huge success on WTA tour; she has won 23 singles titles including two Grand Slam tournaments and four doubles titles as well as over $23 million career prize money which makes her both the highest-ranked woman ever from Eastern Europe but also the highest ranked Polish athlete.
Adam Małysz famous ski-jumper who became the World Champion three times and twice Winter Olympic medallist. At present he holds second place of all time best skiers with 262 wins – 171 consecutive wins over five seasons from 2005/2006 to 2009/2010 season. His personal record was 267 metres (889 feet) during the competition held on December 14th 2008 in Wisła Poland when it beat his previous own record.
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