Warsaw, the capital of Poland since 1596, is the largest Polish city with a population of nearly 2 million. Apart from its political role, Warsaw is a dynamic and important cultural and educational centre with renowned theatres, museums, several universities and the National Opera house, all much esteemed in Poland and throughout Europe.
The mixture of architectural styles reflects the turbulent history of Warsaw. During the World War II almost the whole city has been deliberately razed to the ground, including the historical Old Town and Royal Castle. After the war the city lying in ruins has been rebuilt under direction of the new Communist regime. In many districts the large housing projects typical for the Stalinist era were erected in place of the pre-war buildings, in order to accommodate the returning war exiles as fast as possible. Also the 44-storey-high Palace of Culture and Science, still the highest building and main landmark of Warsaw, was a gift from the former Soviet Union and is closely related to several similar skyscrapers built in the Soviet Union at the same time.
However, the Warsaw Old Town has been painstakingly restored to its former glory using all available documents and pictures, e.g. landscapes by Canaletto. In 1980 the Warsaw historic Old Town was inscribed onto UNESCO’s World Heritage list being the world’s only example of the systematic architectural reconstruction on this scale.
The heart of the Old Town is the Market Square with the statue of the Warsaw Mermaid, a symbol of Warsaw depicted on its coat of arms. From the Market Square narrow streets lead to medieval defensive walls, the Barbican, St. John’s Cathedral and the carefully reconstructed Royal Castle, the residency of Polish monarchs from 16th century.
The Castle Square is the beginning of the 11 km long Warsaw’s Royal Route linking the Royal Castle with the Wilanow Palace, King Jan III Sobieski’s personal residence. Nowadays the Route runs down the most elegant streets of the city: Krakowskie Przedmieście (Krakow Suburb Street)and Nowy Świat (New World Street), with numerous monuments, churches and baroque facades. Further it passes by the Łazienki Palatial Park, the largest park in Warsaw designed in 17th century in the baroque style.
For guests looking for an unconventional way to discover the city we have following suggestions:
Treasure Hunt – Warsaw city game more