West Princes Street Gardens
In the shadow of Edinburgh’s mighty castle, stands this interesting memorial to “Cpl Wojtek” (pronounced VOY-tek), the bear which accompanied the Polish II Corps during World War II.
The bear, adopted by this Polish unit in Iran, ‘fought’ alongside its Polish comrades, achieving distinction in the arduous fighting for Monte Cassino. After the war, Wojtek came to Scotland with his regiment and lived until his death in Edinburgh Zoo.
The City cast the bronze statue in 2013. It paid tribute to the debt owed to the Polish soldiers and airmen who came to our defence during the war. It also marks the deep cultural ties between Poland and Scotland. Poles and Scots have emigrated to each other’s countries for centuries.
A Polish medical school was established from 1941-1949 at Edinburgh University. Courses were given in Polish to soldiers and civilians, most of whom stayed and practiced medicine in Britain. Many Poles came to Scotland with EU freedom of movement and, today, the Polish community is now one of Edinburgh’s largest. Polish cuisine, shops, language and culture are everywhere.
Find out more about Wojtek with this link.
Either walk along Princes Street or Princes Street Gardens to the Mound (about 350 metres). Walk up the Mound for about 500 metres and you will find the French Institute at the crossroads with the High Street.
Picture credits: Stuart Baillie Strong/Edinburgh4Europe