Warsaw — Northern Paris and European Attractions
On the shores of the beautiful Vistula lies the capital and largest city of Poland — Warsaw. The river divides the city in half: on the left bank are the center and the Old Town, the historic heart of Warsaw. The most interesting tourist attractions are located here.
The origin of the name of Warsaw is very romantic. According to legend, a fisherman named Wars fell in love with a mermaid (siren) Sava. Thanks to their union, the name Warsaw was born. Mermaid Sava — one of the main symbols of the city. Its image is decorated with the emblem of the capital, and on the market square you can admire a monument in its honor.
The history of Warsaw is very dramatic. It has repeatedly appeared in the epicenter of tragic events: wars, epidemics, uprisings, destructive fires.
The first written mention of Warsaw dates back to the XIV century, although settlements in the territory of the modern city arose earlier, in the 9th — 13th centuries. Warsaw is a city with a long history of the capital. She was the capital:
- The Duchy of Mazovia in 1413-1526;
- Commonwealth in the years 1596-1796. Moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw, King Sigismund III Waza;
- The Duchy of Warsaw (under the protection of France) in 1806-1815;
- The Kingdom of Poland (as part of the Russian Empire) in 1815-1918;
- The Republic of Poland in the years 1918-1939;
- The Polish People’s Republic in the years 1945-1989;
- Republic of Poland from 1989 to the present day.
Warsaw experienced the most tragic pages of its history in the days of the Second World War.
Warsaw is a city resurrected from the ashes. After World War II, the capital of Poland literally lay in ruins: 85% of the buildings were destroyed. However, the Poles did not move the administrative center to another place and rebuilt the city. Moreover, Warsaw became even more beautiful, and the newly rebuilt Old Town retained the charm of medieval antiquity. The painstaking work of restorers and builders was appreciated according to merit, and in 1980 the historic center of the city was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a magnificent example of large-scale scientific restoration.
Modern Warsaw is a beautiful, actively developing and spacious city with numerous historical and cultural attractions, many parks and places of recreation. Now more than 1.7 million people live in the Polish capital.
An interesting fact: in Warsaw there is not a single circus, but a large number of theaters, music clubs and cinemas.
Sights of Warsaw
Problems with what to see in Warsaw, inquisitive tourist just will not. You can follow the routes piloted by numerous pilgrims to the main sights of the Polish capital, or you can create your own trajectory of wanderings to interesting places in Warsaw. In any case, and every day it will be an exciting journey.
The main attraction of the Polish capital — the Old Town — the historic center of the city. Narrow streets, ancient squares and beautiful buildings recreate the romantic atmosphere of the medieval city.
The heart of the Old Town is the market square. This is one of the most beautiful squares in Warsaw, a favorite walking place for city residents and visitors. Life here is in full swing both day and night. Here you can relax in the cozy cafes and restaurants, listen to street musicians, admire the bright houses with beautiful facades.
Another attractive area of the Old Town — Castle Square — a traditional venue for celebrations and large-scale concerts.
The main attraction of the Castle Square is the Royal Palace, a unique building of a rare early baroque style.
Now the palace houses a museum in which you can see the luxurious interiors of the royal chambers, the halls of the Senate and Seimas, the paintings of Rembrandt, the urn with the ashes of the national hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
In the middle of the square stands the monumental column of King Zygmunt III Vasa, one of the symbols of Warsaw and the oldest secular monument of the city. The height of the column is 22 meters, and it was installed in honor of the father by the son of Sigismund III, King Vladislav IV, in 1644.
In the Old Town is the main Catholic church in Warsaw — the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (St. John). It was built in the Gothic style at the end of the XIV century as the tomb and the coronation site of the Polish rulers. In the Pantheon of the church many famous Poles are buried:
- the last Polish king Stanislav Augustus Poniatowski;
- writer Henryk Sienkiewicz;
- pianist Ignacy Paderevsky;
- country’s presidents Gabriel Narutovich, Ignacy Mostsitsky, Stanislav Voitsekhovsky;
- Princes of Mazovia and others.
From the Old Town to the southern suburbs of the city leads the Royal Route — a historic road with a number of historic buildings. The tract begins from the Castle Square and ends at the Wilanow Palace, the majestic residence of King Jan Sobieski. The palace building was built at the end of the 17th century and is a masterpiece of baroque style.
The Royal Route goes through one of the most beautiful streets of Warsaw — Krakow suburb. This is the main avenue of the city, where you can walk all day. Thanks to the Old Town and this street, the question of what to see in Warsaw is solved very easily. In the Krakow suburb located:
- The Presidential Palace with an equestrian monument to Prince Jozef Poniatovsky — the largest palace in the city. The premises of the palace can be visited only as part of organized groups at a pre-arranged time;
- The Church of St. Anne is one of the oldest buildings in the city (XV century), with a beautiful neoclassical facade;
- the Church of St. Joseph the Worker with a rococo facade;
- the Church of the Holy Cross, which is known primarily for the fact that urns with the hearts of Frédéric Chopin and Nobel Prize in Literature Vladislav Reymont are buried in the columns of the temple;
- the buildings of the Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Warsaw, they were built in the XIX century;
- Monuments to Nicholas Copernicus, Adam Mitskevich and Boleslav Prus;
- Staszica Palace — a building in classical style, built at the beginning of the XIX century;
- Carmelite church and other interesting sights.
There is an amazing place in Warsaw where you can not only devote yourself to exploring historical sights, but also enjoy the solitude and silence of nature. This is the Лазazienki palace and park complex, located on one of the sections of the Royal Route and located in the very center of the capital.
The park occupies a huge territory: more than 70 hectares with shady alleys, green lawns with peacocks walking, ponds with swans and huge carp.
On the territory of the park there is the magnificent скийazienkowski Palace, built in the 17th century in the Chinese style. Another name for the old building is the Palace on the Water, since it was erected on an artificial island in the Лазazienki lake. Also near the lake is the Roman Theater — an amphitheater modeled on the ancient Roman theater. Once there was a performance, and near the monument to F. Chopin, and now you can listen to his amazing music.
Due to the rich history in Warsaw there are many architectural sights. Although the city was severely damaged during the Second World War, many architectural monuments were restored with documentary accuracy, and among the buildings after the war there are also a lot of interesting buildings in architectural terms.
The most significant post-war buildings:
- The Palace of Culture and Science is a “gift” from the Soviet Union, built in the style of Stalin’s skyscrapers in 1955. For some time it was the tallest building in Europe: its height is 237 meters. On the 30th floor there is the observation square, from where you can see the whole city;
- the Zlota-44 skyscraper, 192 meters high; Europe’s highest residential complex built in the form of a giant sail (2013);
- The mall tower (1999) is the third highest skyscraper in Poland. Its height is 184 meters;
- The Westin hotel is a modern hotel with an unusual design;
- multipurpose complex «Golden Terraces», giving the impression of a frozen wave.
The sights of Warsaw reflect not only the dramatic history of the city, but also the fate of all of Poland, the most beautiful country of Central Europe.