Persephone fountain in Poznan’s old town square
Poland is largely landlocked other than for a stretch of Baltic coast in the north. Although the summers are reasonably mild, there are days that can be quite hot. Country children can always take a dip in a local river or lake to cool down. But with private swimming pools virtually non-existent and public pools relatively rare – what do the city kids do in a heatwave?
The answer? Fountains – and luckily Poland has an aboundance of them. And so to the second most memorable thing about our holiday – at least as far as Mr 3 year old is concerned.
Frolicing in fountains – Praga Poludnie – Warsaw
When the hot weather arrives, the local kids strip down to their underwear or bathers and do what kids do best under the plentiful streams of H2O spouting form numerous nozzles embedded in pavements across the country. Now these are no Mannakan Pis type sculptures with a mere trickle emanating from their nether regions, but rather full on geysers that jump unexpectedly out of the ground with a force that could quite easily knock over the uninitiated or unsuspecting.
Whilst I can’t attest to the water quality, and granted, a number of these water features do boast signs proclaiming “no bathing allowed” – the local kids look healthy enough and my 3 year old stripped down at every available opportunity to join in the fray – without a single illness to show for it. The park officials always seemed to turn a blind eye to the forbidden shenannigans. The whole experience very much reminded me of the games we used to play as children under sprinklers – before the days of droughts and water restrictions.
Some of our favourites include:
- The “dry-fountain” in the Multimedia Fountain Park on the banks of the Vistula in Warsaw. This park is the largest fountain park of its kind in Europe. I know that they say everything is bigger in Queensland/ Texas…but Texas and Queensland have got nothing on the size of the fountains in this park! Whilst the main fountains – which are used on Saturday nights for integrated music and laserlight displays – are off limits, there is a “dry fountain” to the side. Here kids can splash about to their hearts’ content.
- The Syrena fountain in the old town square in Warsaw. A centrally located piece in the middle of the old town square. the fountain honours the Syrena (or siren/ mermaid) which according to legend is the protectress of the city. The fountain and surrounding area are great for pigeon chasing (see earlier post) splashing and terrorising tourists, local schoolchildren and their teachers. Surrounded by outdoor watering holes, it is also a place where parents and any other accompanying adults can sit back, relax and knock down a cheeky Zywiec and raspberry juice while kids use up some of their endless supply of energy.
Syrena fountain in Warsaw’s Old Town Square
Catching up with a friend over Zywiec and raspberry juice in Warsaw’s old town square
- The numerous water features scattered across the Kielce town centre. These again belong to the water feature rather than the fountain school of water play options. They are abundant across the town centre. There are fountains at the Plac Artystow (Artists’ square), in front of the municipal offices and also a giant water wall at the multi-story carpark. All have a great splashability rating.
- The Raftsman’s fountain in Torun. This fountain is surrounded by gilt frogs commemorating the Polish equivelent of the Pied Piper story – which features frogs instead of mice. Legend has it that following a great flood, a plague of frogs invaded the town of Torun. No matter what they did, the townsfolk were unable to rid their beloved town of the frogs. The mayor, in disgust, offered his daughters hand to whomever could rid the town of the frogs. A raftsman, who had for a long time been in love with the mayors daughter, came up with an idea. He took his fiddle and with his beautiful music lured the frogs out from their hiding places. Enchanted, the frogs followed him out of the town and to the “wet suburbs” where the marshes were, and there they stayed, never to return again. The raftsman however did return to claim his prize. He and the mayor’s daughter married and bore him seven granddaughters and seven grandsons. The frogs spout water which is great for splashing, tourists also toss in coins in the hope of one day returning to Torun. The fountain is also a good meeting point. You never know who you may stumble across when visiting it.
Gilt frogs at the raftsman’s fountain in Torun
But don’t feel restricted to this list. There are fountains everywhere in Poland – some more frolic friendly and some less so. So go out explore and if you have any you would like to share please leave a comment.