Architectural and historical sights of Warsaw.
Warsaw – not only the capital of a large and ancient European state, but just a wonderful city with centuries of history and the largest population and area in Poland. Visiting Warsaw you can visit a huge number of castles, monuments, theaters and plunge into Polish history in the most direct way.
So, let’s begin our tour of this modern Polish metropolis. The Old Town or Stare Miasto in Polish is the most attractive district, no, even region of Warsaw, which has a large number of monuments that will be of great interest for lovers of European antiquity. The old town, destroyed by the Germans during the war and almost entirely rebuilt after it was over, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List for a reason. In this ancient center of Warsaw you can find beautiful Gothic churches, apartment buildings in Renaissance style, streets that fascinate with their romantic lines and lead in one way or another to the Vistula River and cozy cafes situated along this majestic Eastern European river. Almost every building in the Old Town has its own unique architecture. You should visit Old Town Square which is the heart of Old Town of Warsaw. Also worth a visit are the Old Town ramparts and the St. John’s Cathedral. For lovers of ancient architecture we recommend the Castle Square with the Royal Castle which occupies the eastern part of the Old Town.
Architectural and historical sights of Warsaw.
Royal Castle (Zamek Kralewski) was built in XIV century and for a long time was the residence of all Polish kings. Its current appearance is appreciated by Italian architects whose ancestors took part in the creation of this masterpiece of world architecture. Today the castle is a museum, where you can see the apartments of Polish kings. Also in the museum you can see the beautiful tapestries, stylish furniture, collections of porcelain and paintings. On Castle Square you can admire the monuments and one of the symbols of the city – the column of King Sigismund III, which moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw. This twenty-two-meter column was made of bronze in 1664. During the Warsaw Uprising against the Germans (1944), the monument fell down, but it was not destroyed, underwent reconstruction and can now be seen in all its beauty.
At the beginning of the XV century was built the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It is the oldest church in Warsaw. Here the Polish kings were crowned and took the oath of allegiance to the Constitution. The last Polish monarch, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, was also buried here in the crypt, as were many other famous Poles. When World War II ended, the cathedral was rebuilt in the Gothic style.
Lazienki Park is one of the most beautiful park complexes with palaces in Europe, measuring about 70 hectares. Its romantic and beautiful places attract many people, both from Warsaw itself and tourists from all over the world. In the park is especially worth seeing: Palazzo on the water with its classic architecture, which was one of the former royal residences, Chopin Monument, which stands since 1926, and at which in summertime concerts dedicated to the legendary composer are held. It is worth seeing the amphitheater and the classical theater.
Architectural and historical sights of Warsaw.
To the north-west of the Old Town there is the Nowy Miasto (New Town) which first buildings date back to the end of the 14th century. At that time this “city within a city” was separated from the Old City and was populated mostly by poor people who flocked to Warsaw from all over Poland and even Europe in search of a better life. Most of the sights are concentrated in the New Town Square, including the Citadel, the Monument of the Warsaw Uprising and St. Casimir’s Church.
In the XVII century was built Babylon Palace (Palac WILANOWSKI). You can notice its resemblance to the palace in Versailles (Paris, France). This palace once served as a summer residence of King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, and during the hard years of World War II this masterpiece of architecture was seriously damaged. Today, the palace houses a museum, which was established there after it was restored in 1970. The palace is surrounded by gardens in various styles.
In the National Museum (Muzeum Narodowe) you can find a large collection of beautiful works of art, preserved since ancient times until today. The museum is famous for its exhibitions of all kinds of works of art, from Impressionist paintings, works by Warhol and others to major attractions such as the large-scale pictorial representation – the Battle of Grunwald by Jan Matejko, which represents the great Polish-Latvian victory over the Teutonic Knights in 1410.
Architectural and historical sights of Warsaw.
During the difficult years of World War II all of Warsaw’s Jewish library was barbarically destroyed. It is now home to the Institute of Jewish History (Zydowski Instytut historyczny). It contains paintings, sculptures and hundreds of photographs from the ghetto.
In the Church of St. Krzuz (Kosciol sw. Krzyza) are buried the hearts of Chopin and the famous Polish writer – Nobel Prize winner – Władysław Reymont.
Great Theater is a monumental building, which was built in 1825-1833 years by the famous Antonio Corazzi. This theater hosts some of the most lavish theatrical performances in Poland.
The oldest and largest Catholic necropolis in Warsaw is the Old Powazki Cemetery (Cmentarz stare powazki), which was opened in 1790. It is a place where prominent citizens are buried for their services to the country and the city.
Architectural and historical sights of Warsaw.
The largest building in Warsaw and Poland is the Palace of Science and Culture (234.5 m in height). This monumental building was built in 1952-1954 on the orders of Stalin as a symbol of communist power over Poland, and was produced by three thousand Soviet workers under the guidance of Soviet engineers. During the three years of construction 16 workers died because the Communist bosses did not respect the rules for this type of work. Forty million bricks were used to build the building. The building covers three hectares and has 3,288 rooms. In the building you can now find museums, theaters, cinemas, restaurants, casinos and many offices. From the viewing area on the 30th floor there is a beautiful view of the whole of Warsaw. But some Poles don’t like the fact that Warsaw is dominated by the “specter of communism” and there are often projects to shade it with other skyscrapers or even to demolish it. Many projects are neither technically nor financially feasible, and some are simply stupid, regardless of the fact that they come from famous Poles. The square on which the Palace of Science and Culture stands is currently the largest in all of Europe.
Warsaw also has the biggest bazaar in Europe, covering 32 hectares. It is worth a visit, but beware – the market is full of pickpockets, and the Polish police cannot cope with them.
Warsaw (Poland) – the most detailed information about the city with photos and videos. The best sights of Warsaw with descriptions, guides and maps.
City of Warsaw.
Warsaw – the capital of Poland and the largest city of the country with a complicated history and destiny. It is an interesting blend of antiquity and tradition, modern pace of life and energy of a large metropolis. Warsaw is located in the central part of Poland and has a dramatic history. Since the 16th century when it was chosen to be the capital of the Polish state, it has been devastated several times in the crucible of numerous wars. The last one, World War II, completely destroyed its heart – the Old Town. But Warsaw, like the phoenix, was reborn from the ashes, although it lost some of its original historical appearance despite all efforts.
Warsaw is the most dynamic city in Poland, famous for its museums, palaces and rich cultural life. Historic buildings blend harmoniously with modern architecture, and skyscrapers tower over the tiled roofs of the restored Old Town. Warsaw combines Poland’s past and present, and is a true symbol of the modern Polish state. Warsaw may be second to Krakow or Wroclaw in beauty of old streets and attractions, but it has plenty of interesting and fascinating places to see.
Geography, climate, best time to visit
Warsaw is located in the central part of Eastern Poland on the Vistula River, equidistant from the Baltic Sea to the north and the Carpathian Mountains to the south. The Vistula divides the capital of Poland into two parts. Interestingly, the right bank of the Vistula was inhabited earlier, about 9 – 10 centuries, whereas the modern historic center is located on the left bank.
Warsaw has a moderate continental climate, which is characterized by relatively cool winters and warm summers. The best time to visit Poland’s capital is from May to September. The coldest months are January and February. In late autumn and early spring it can be quite rainy.
Warsaw. Old Town
Warsaw became the capital of Poland in 1596, when King Sigismund III moved here its seat from Krakow. The first mention of the city dates back to the 14th century. Although the first settlements appeared on the right bank of the Vistula River already in the 9th century.
Scholars believe the city’s name comes from the adjective Warszewa (or Warszowa), which is derived from the word Warsz (a popular medieval abbreviation of the name Warcisław or Wrocisław).
The historic center of Warsaw
From the 16th century and for the next two centuries Warsaw was the center of the Polish kingdom and the seat of the Polish kings. After the Russian Empire conquered Eastern Poland, from 1815 to 1915 Warsaw was the capital of the Kingdom of Poland.
In the 20th century, Warsaw, like the rest of Poland, experienced its most difficult times. World War II left a terrible scar on the “face” of the city. The historical center of the Polish capital was almost completely destroyed. It is estimated that about 85% of the city was destroyed. After World War II, Warsaw was restored for decades. They tried to restore it to its original form based on old chronicles and blueprints, but under the restored facades, unfortunately, modern materials and foundations are hidden.
- Population – 1.8 million people.
- Area – 517 km2 .
- Language: Polish.
- Currency is the Polish zloty.
- Visas – Schengen.
- Time – UTC +1.
- Warsaw is divided into the following districts: Center, South, North, East and West. The central part is the districts of Śródmieście, Wola, Mokotów, Żoliborz, Ochota, Praga Północ, Praga Południe.
- In Warsaw it is easy to find accommodation for any budget. It is better to book hotels and apartments in the areas of Śródmieście, Wola and Mokotów.
- The capital of Poland is famous for its busy nightlife. In the old town and its surroundings you can find many good restaurants and bustling bars with great atmosphere, food and beer.
- Warsaw, in general, is a safe city. In the bus and train station you can meet homeless people and drunks, but they are almost always aggressive. In crowded places pickpockets can operate, so you should keep control of personal belongings. The soccer fans (during the games) and drunken companies near the bars should be also be watched out.
Architecture of Warsaw
Architecture of Warsaw is a mix of different historical epochs and styles that reflect the rich history of Poland and its capital. There are brick Gothic and Baroque churches, classicist palaces and restored old houses with tiled roofs dominated by modern skyscrapers. Warsaw in architectural terms, of course, is extremely diverse.
During World War II, the historic center of the Polish capital was almost completely destroyed and rebuilt only in the postwar years. Old Town of Warsaw is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an example of restoration of destroyed historical heritage.
Warsaw city center
How to get to Warsaw
Warsaw is easily accessible from most major European cities. The Polish capital is served by two airports at once: Chopin and Modlin. The first is larger and is located about 10 km from the city. From Chopin Airport to downtown Warsaw you can take trains S2 and S3 as well as buses 148, 175 and 188. Tickets for public transport can be bought from ticket machines or in the arrival area after customs as well as on the train or bus itself. Airport Modlin is usually used by budget airlines and is located 40 km north of the Polish capital.
Warsaw has rail connections to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Minsk, Kiev, Vilnius and other major European cities. You can get to Warsaw by bus from Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Berlin and almost all Polish cities including Gdansk, Wroclaw, Krakow, Poznan, Bydgoszcz, Olsztyn, Torun and Czestochowa.
Public transport in Warsaw includes metro, buses and streetcars. The subway opened in 1995 and has only two lines. There is a single ticket on public transport, which can be purchased at kiosks, ticket machines and in any store where there are Sprzedaż biletów ZTM stickers.
Attractions in Warsaw
Most of the most interesting sights in Warsaw are located around the Royal Route (the route from Castle Square to Wilanów Palace).
As mentioned above, the Old Town of the Polish capital was practically destroyed during World War II. Therefore, most of the historical buildings, palaces and churches have been carefully restored. Their age does not exceed 70 years.
The Old Market is one of the most charming historic squares in Warsaw, founded in the 13th century. Up until the 18th century it was the main shopping center of the city. The square is surrounded by beautiful Baroque merchant houses. In the center there is a fountain with a figure of a mermaid, which is a symbol of the Polish capital.
Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy) is the main square of the historic center, located between the Royal Palace and the Old Town. The square is shaped like a triangle, the southern side of which was previously bounded by the Castle Wall and Krakow Gate. Krakow Gate and part of the wall were demolished in the first half of the 19th century. Castle Square was one of the busiest places in the Polish capital. The place was fully restored only in 1988.
On the square there is a column dedicated to King Sigismund III (Kolumna Zygmunta III Wazy). The bronze statue depicts the king in a knight’s armor, holding a crooked sword and leaning on a cross with his left hand.
Also here is the Baroque Royal Castle (Zamek Królewski w Warszawie), where Polish kings have lived for hundreds of years. The complex was built by King Sigismund in 1618 on the site of a medieval castle. During its history it was destroyed twice: by the Swedes in the 17th century and by the Germans during World War II. The castle is now a museum.
Church of St. John
Not far from the square is the oldest church in Warsaw – St. John the Baptist Church (Archikatedra św. Jana Chrzciciela), built in 1390 from brick in the Gothic style. In 1944 the church was destroyed by German troops and was rebuilt in the post-war years in the style of historical authenticity.
Palace of Culture and Science
The Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki) is the tallest building in Warsaw and Poland, as well as one of the tallest buildings in the European Union. It is a huge Art Deco skyscraper, built in 1955 according to the design of Soviet architect Lev Rudnev as a “gift of the USSR to the Polish people”. The height of the 42-storey building is 187.68 m. On the 30th floor (at a height of 114 meters) is located observation deck. Also in the building are located: four theaters, multiplex cinema, two museums, a congress hall for 3,000 seats, government agencies, academic institutions and offices of private companies.
Lazenkowski Palace is a charming 18th-century palace of classicist style located on an artificial island in the park of the same name. Particularly notable is its northern facade, where the main entrance with powerful Corinthian columns and a balustrade with statues of mythological figures is located. The palace has magnificent interiors decorated with paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens.
Wilanów Palace is a magnificent baroque complex from the 17th century, which was designed as a summer palace for Polish kings. It is located in the southern part of the Royal Route and has luxurious interiors. Wilanów Palace was not damaged during World War II and is preserved almost in its original state.
Krakow Predmiescie is the main street of the Polish capital, connecting the Old and New Towns.
Church of St. Anne
St. Anne’s Church is one of Warsaw’s oldest monuments. This sacred monument was founded in the 15th century. In the 18th century, the church building was rebuilt in the style of classicism. The interior is Baroque in style and has impressive frescoes.
The Jewish cemetery in Warsaw was founded in the early 19th century. It covers 33 hectares and is one of the largest in the world. There are more than 250,000 graves here.
Nowy Svyat is a historical street founded in the 16th century. It is part of the Royal Route and runs south of Krakowskie Przedmieście to Three Crosses Square.
The Church of the Holy Cross
The Church of the Holy Cross is a Baroque monument built in the first half of the 18th century. The church was blown up by the German army and rebuilt during the postwar years.
The Yablonowski Palace was built in the late 18th century. Since 1819 it served as the town hall. The palace was destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt in 1990 according to the architectural plans of the first third of the 20th century.
The Barbican is one of the few remaining relics of the complex network of historic fortifications that once defended Warsaw. The Barbican was built in 1540 on the site of an old gate and is shaped as a three-tiered semi-circular bastion. It is an interesting landmark located between the Old Town and the New Town in the area of Nowomiejska Street.
Florian Cathedral is a brick Neo-Gothic church with two 75-meter towers, completed in 1904.
Church of St. Kazimierz
St. Kazimierz Church is a Baroque church built by the Benedictine order at the end of the 17th century. Like many landmarks in Warsaw, it was destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt after the end of World War II.
Church of the Visitation
The Church of Visitation is one of Warsaw’s most famous churches with an unusual (for religious buildings in the Polish capital) rococo façade. This sacred monument was completed in the 18th century. The church is famous for being the place where Friderik Chopin played for some time during Sunday services.
- The largest park in Warsaw is Lazienkowski (Lazienki), which is an anchor on the Royal Route and an ideal place for family walks. The park has an area of 76 hectares, on which there are palaces, pavilions, two greenhouses, an amphitheater, a planetarium and other interesting monuments.
- Saxon Garden is one of the first public parks in Europe, opened in the first half of the 18th century.
Interesting museums in Warsaw
- Copernicus Center – the main science museum in Poland opened in 2010. It has over 400 interactive exhibitions in six zones, each devoted to a different area of science.
- The National Museum is one of Poland’s largest museums, including artifacts from different historical eras. Particularly interesting are the antiquities collection, consisting of 11,000 Egyptian, Greek and Roman objects, as well as the collection of Polish medieval art.
- A contemporary art gallery featuring works by leading post-war Polish artists.
€85 per tour
Warsaw step by step
Trace the fate of the city, see it through the eyes of a Varsovian and learn about Polish culture