Over the seven centuries of existence, Warsaw has experienced several conquests and destruction. The entire historic city center was razed to the ground during World War II. For decades, restorers painstakingly studied documents, old engravings and photographs and literally brick by brick restored the capital of Poland from ruins.
As a brilliant example of restoration, the historic center with its squares, castles and churches was included in the UNESCO heritage list. Nowadays, a tourist, walking along the Market Square and contemplating the powerful royal castle, will hardly guess that these sights are only a few decades old.
What to see and where to go in Warsaw?
The most interesting and beautiful places for walking. Photos and a short description.
Historic city center. In the 13th century, the first stone of the future Polish capital was laid here. For centuries, life was in full swing around the Old Town - merchants gathered for fairs, itinerant artists staged street performances, crowds of onlookers gathered to stare at the bonfires where witches and sorcerers were burned. Of the historical buildings, almost nothing has survived, only the basement floors and cellars, but the Old Town does not lose its charm from this.
The palace is 10 km away. from the Polish capital. It was erected in the 17th century for King Jan Sobieski and his wife Maria Casimira Louise. At the request of the Queen, during the construction, the creators were guided by the French architectural school (the Baroque style prevails). At the beginning of the 19th century, one of the first art museums in Poland was opened on the territory. During the Nazi occupation, the museum's collections were looted, but then they were returned back to Poland.
the Royal Castle
An architectural and cultural monument in the center of Warsaw, erected in the 16th-17th centuries by the Lithuanian prince Sigismund. During the Northern War, the castle was plundered by the Swedes and gradually fell into disrepair. It is noteworthy that in 1829 the Russian emperor Nicholas I was married here to the kingdom of Poland (at that time the Commonwealth was part of the Russian Empire). The modern Royal Castle is a copy of the structure blown up by the Nazis during World War II.
The central square of Warsaw, surrounded by the main attractions. Located within the Old City. In the center of the square there is a memorial column in honor of King Sigismund III Vasa. From Castle Square begins the Royal Route, which leads to the country residence of Jan III. In the Middle Ages, this place was the concentration of city life, all major events took place here.
Another central square, surrounded by houses with multi-colored plaster. Each building is unique, each facade has a different pattern and color. The Market Square was the trading pulse of Warsaw in previous centuries. It was always crowded, lively and fun. Taking a leisurely walk around this place, you can feel the real atmosphere of the Middle Ages.
A powerful fortification of the 16th century in the system of fortifications of the Old City, built according to the project of the Italian master D. Batista. The building did not perform defensive functions. At the base of the barbican tower there is a monument to the Siren. According to legend, in ancient times, the Siren emerged from the river and told people that soon a great city would appear on the banks. Today, an exhibition gallery is located on the territory of the fort.
Russian fortress of the 19th century, built by order of the imperial authorities after the November Uprising. It housed a prison for political prisoners and rebels. Important historical milestones of the Polish national liberation movement are connected with the fortress. After the occupation of Poland in 1915, the citadel passed into the hands of the Germans. But they were expelled in 1918. The fortress went to the newly formed Polish independent state.
Monument to the Warsaw Uprising
A monument commemorating the fallen Polish patriots during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. It was officially opened in 1989 on the very spot where the freedom fighters were hiding from the German occupiers. The composition depicts two groups of rebels who seem to rise from the ruins and courageously rush into battle. The monument is one of the most interesting and visited monuments in Warsaw.
Church of St. John the Baptist
The Polish name of the temple is St. John's Church. This is the oldest Catholic church in the capital, which was built in the XII-XIV centuries. Important events have taken place here for centuries: coronations, the conclusion of peace treaties, magnificent funerals of monarchs. The church played the role of the spiritual center of the Polish state. The modern building of the temple is a remake, as the historical building was demolished during the German occupation.
Church of the Holy Cross
Church of the XVI century, which also could not escape the fate of being destroyed in the Second World War. In the middle of the 19th century, a statue of Jesus carrying the cross stood in front of the temple. The church is notable for the fact that in one of its walls there is an urn with the ashes of Frederic Chopin. In the 20th century, the temple was completely rebuilt, but work on the exterior and interior decoration continued into the 21st century.
Church of St. Casimir
The temple was founded by the ruler Jan III and his wife in the 17th century at their own expense. Inside is the tomb of the Polish princess - the daughter of Jan III. The church was built in the style of classicism and baroque with strict observance of geometric proportions according to the project of the architect T. Gamerski. After the bombing, only the garden of the 17th century was preserved. The temple was rebuilt in the middle of the 20th century.
Church of St. Anne
The current cathedral, which arose thanks to the generous funding of Princess Anna Radziwill. Her ashes are buried inside the church. Due to numerous reconstructions, a single style is not traced in the architectural composition, a mixture of elements from different eras prevails. The bell tower of the church is used as an observation deck. According to legend, if a young couple gets married in St. Anna's Church, then the marriage will be long and prosperous.
Frederic Chopin Museum
Frederic Chopin is a famous Polish composer whose creative path was connected with Warsaw. The exposition of the museum consists of items belonging to the musician. In addition to letters, musical scores and personal items, you can see the piano at which the master worked. In addition to the traditional exhibition, there is a multimedia exposition where you can learn about the details of Chopin's biography.
Museum of Marie Skłodowska-Curie
Museum dedicated to the research and life of the famous female physicist Marie Skłodowska-Curie. Thanks to her research, the table of chemical elements was replenished with two new elements - polonium and radium. The name "polonium" was given to the substance in honor of the motherland of the scientist - Poland. Maria was twice awarded the Nobel Prize. The museum was organized in 1967 through the efforts of her daughter Eva Curie.
Museum of the Polish Army
Museum dedicated to the Polish Armed Forces. The exposition covers the period from the emergence of the Polish state to the present. The open-air exhibition presents samples of weapons from other countries: artillery pieces, tanks, fighters, armored vehicles. Inside are collections of medieval weapons, armor, banners. The museum houses the cocked hat and saddle of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Science Center Copernicus
A scientific interactive museum where visitors are invited to experiment on their own. It is one of the most advanced museums of its kind in Europe. The inner space is divided into several thematic zones, telling about the whole layers of human knowledge. The first permanent exhibition opened in 2010, and after 1.5 years the museum was visited by about 2 million people.
Palace of Culture and Science
A high-rise building, almost an exact copy of the Stalinist skyscrapers in Moscow. It was erected by the Russian architect L. Rudnev by order of I.V. Stalin, who thus wanted to make a gift to the Polish people. Offices, cinemas, a large conference hall, museums and exhibition galleries are located here. The spire of the building dominates all the buildings in Warsaw and serves as a reference point for tourists who do not know the city.
The former residence of the Elector of Saxony and King August II, an exact copy of the building of the XVII century, which was destroyed during the Second World War. Since 1975, the castle began to be restored from the very foundation, in 1981 the Center for Contemporary Art was opened on its territory. Today, Ujazdowski Castle has become a venue for numerous creative festivals, screenings of auteur films, art salons and photo exhibitions.
Another former residence of Elector Augustus II the Strong. This majestic and picturesque building was called the “palace by the water”, since its foundation was set right on the surface of the river. The palace complex consists of the main building, baths, the White House with galleries and pavilions. Inside the main building there is an art gallery, where more than 2 thousand paintings are exhibited.
A picturesque quiet park surrounding the Lazenkovsky Palace. It was created as a nature reserve, but eventually became a public square. Since the beginning of the 19th century, the entrance to the territory was allowed for all people. The park has a monument to F. Chopin - a copy of the monument of 1926, which was destroyed by the Nazis. It is pleasant to walk along the well-groomed park alleys and paths on a fine summer day.