Warsaw, since late XVI century the capital of Poland belongs to the top 10 metropolitan areas in Europe. Unlike most of historical cities in Europe, Warsaw was almost fully destroyed (around eighty-five percent of the city) during the World War II. Most of the historical city we can admire today had to be literally reconstructed from scratch. The reconstruction was limited only to the oldest city areas. Much of the buildings were not reconstructed at all.
Shortly on the historical context: The Nazi German forces leveled the city to the ground to state an example and punish the city for 1944 Warsaw Uprising launched by the Polish underground army. Its outbreak ended after two months with a severe defeat. Although the Warsaw Uprising arises some controversies today, the underground army soldiers have a special and very honorable status in Warsaw and in the whole country. Many of those, who were not killed during the fights were after the end of the WWII haunted and tortured by the communist secret police. Each year, on the 1st of August at 17.00 (the outbreak anniversary) the city literally stops for a couple of minutes. You will hear the sirens and see people holding torches. The main gathering takes place on streets around the main metro station. The Warsaw Uprising Museum belongs to the must see list of many national and international tourist.
The Warsaw historical city consists of the Old Town and the New Town as well as the Royal Route. The New Town is parts of the historical city that are located beyond the Barbakan (the gate in the defensive wall) opposite the the Royal Route. On the photo below you can see the panorama of both cities. The whole area is relatively small as you can imagine comparing it with the national stadium that may be seen at the other bank of the Vistula river.
The panorama of the Warsaw Old Town and the New Town. Two highest buildings in front are the Warsaw cathedral and the tower of the royal castle. Like all buildings in this area they had to be reconstructed from scratch after the WWII struggles. The Warsaw cathedral is a relatively simple building so do not plan much time for sightseeing inside. The royal castle is however worthwhile, as the last king of Poland was a true art lover >>>.
The royal castle square (not to be confused with the main old town square) viewed from the opposite directions. Its central point is the Sigismund column. Sigismund III Vasa was the king of the Commonwealth and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, who moved the capital city from Cracow (>>>) to Warsaw.
The main square of the Old Town, located five minutes of walk from the royal castle. To get to Barbakan that marks the end of the Old Town you will need another five minutes.
In the middle of the square you will find the Warsaw Siren. She is the city symbol that can be found on the Warsaw coat of arms, as well.
In Summer the majority of the main square is rented by restaurants located in the surrounding buildings. The restaurants offer variety of meals. As Polish cuisine comprises some flag dishes naturally all of them are offered in the area. The customers are both tourists and locals. Basically if you want to eat typically Polish, the historical city is the place. In winter a skating rink is build in its centre.
Below some other photo impressions. Although it may seem so, I did not use much enhancing on them. The shots were done shortly before it started to thunder and quite heavily rain.
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