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WARSAW

Destination Poland: Why Not Choose Warsaw?

Like a Phoenix, Warsaw managed to rise from the ashes after being almost entirely destroyed during the Second World War.

Capital of Poland, the biggest city in the country and eighth in the European Union, Warsaw offers many sites for history lovers: museums, religious monuments, castles... However, it is also a fast-growing city, offering an astonishing urban landscape, a symbol of its economic dynamism. On either side of the Vistula, you will find many cafés and restaurants where you can rest your feet after a long walk through the old town, or a stroll in one of the many parks.


The Painful Past Behind a Dynamic City

Warsaw is city of contrasts, mixing modernity and history, eastern and western cultures and ultra-modern skyscrapers built on a particularly painful past.

84% of the city was destroyed in the Second World War, and Warsaw now has few monuments surviving from before the conflict. Wilanów Palace, built in the 17th century, should therefore be on you must-see list. It is one of the most beautiful examples of Polish baroque architecture.

Stare Miastro, or Warsaw old town (which has retained this name despite most of its buildings being reconstructed from the 1950s) is the heart of Warsaw. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980, it has many museums retracing its entire history. Don't forget to visit the Historical Museum of Warsaw on the Market Square, which covers the city's history from its foundation to the present day. And as you walk through the narrow cobbled streets, make time to see the Royal Castle, the official Warsaw residence of the Polish monarchs . Destroyed in 1944, it was rebuilt in the 1970s.

Of course, there are also the famous ramparts of Warsaw, with their red bricks and their barbican. And if it's architecture you love, visit St. John's Archcathedral, one of the city's most famous religious buildings, and the Church of the Holy Cross, which is among the most remarkable baroque churches in the Polish capital.

The house where Frédéric Chopin was born opens its doors to you, unveiling the secrets of a musician's life and work.

Art enthusiasts can marvel at the paintings in the Zachęta National Gallery of Art.

And to appreciate the other sides to this modern and dynamic city, a walk in one of the many national parks or a shopping spree would be a great addition to your trip. Warsaw also knows how to relax, unwind and have fun.

As night falls, head for Pawilony, the hub of the city's night-life, where each bar brings new surprises.


Top 10 Must-Sees

 

The Praga district, on the right bank of the Vistula. This is what remains of pre-war Warsaw. Certainly one of the most moving sights in the City.

The Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN). An imposing sky-scraper which Stalin ordered to be built at the start of the 1950s. A true relic of Soviet history.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, built on the symbolic site of the Warsaw ghetto . The construction of this stone and glass building began in 2007 .

The Warsaw Uprising Museum, devoted to the city's uprising in 1944. Housed in an old electrical power plant (a brick building typical of the industrial architecture of the early 20th century and now fully restored), this museum is among the most modern and interactive in Poland.

The Old Town, the oldest part of Warsaw, as well as its historical and cultural centre. Created in the 13th century as a medieval city, it was 90% destroyed during the Second World War. Perfectly reconstructed, it has earned its place on the Unesco World Heritage List.

The Fryderyk Chopin Museum retraces the artist's life through excellent reconstructions and almost 7000 items (manuscripts, letters, original editions, personal belongings...), and allows visitors to discover his work thanks to very modern multimedia facilities.

Warsaw Royal Castle, once the residence of the kings of Poland, and now home to rescued works of art from the Castle, old equipment, and paintings by Rembrandt.

Łazienki Park, a little corner of paradise in the heart of the city. It is Warsaw's largest park (76 hectares).

The right bank of the Vistula, to relax for a moment by the riverside.

The Wielki Theatre, Warsaw's main theatre, where the National Opera performs.


Warsaw: City of a Thousand Flavours

A crossroads of many cultures, Polish cuisine offers unbelievable diversity, which will continue to surprise you throughout your stay.

You must try pierogi, a kind of semi-circular ravioli, herring with onions, salted pickled cucumbers, bigos (made with fresh cabbage, sauerkraut, various meats and charcuterie, smoked bacon, dried wild mushrooms and various condiments). Soups are particularly popular, with many different recipes. There is żurek (sour rye soup), barszcz (red beetroot soup), rosół broth and zupagrzybowa (wild mushroom soup), or even kwaśnica (goose broth with fine strips of sauerkraut).

For dessert, we recommend Toruń spice bread (pierniktoruński), Poland's traditional cake, dating back to the Middle Ages. Finally, you can't leave without trying Poland's world-famous vodka.

To taste these dishes, head to a bar mleczny or milk bar. Real culinary institutions, these milk bars appeared at the end of the 19th century, and there are still around twenty of them open in the Polish capital. The menus, originally based around dairy products (hence the name "milk bar") became much more varied after the communist period.


Cultural Events

 

July-August: Open-air jazz festival in the city of Warsaw :One of the most important and famous jazz festivals in Poland. Warsaw's Rynek (market square) fills with people every Saturday evening in summer, as crowds gather for one of the country's most keenly awaited jazz events.

July/August: Ogrody Muzyczne (Music Gardens) : Every year, for the Ogrody Muzyczne, the gardens of Warsaw's Royal Castle open their doors to almost 40,000 visitors. Four evenings a week, in the castle's internal courtyard, dive into the world of opera and other performance arts.

August: "Chopin and his Europe" International Festival : A rich programme of symphonic, piano and chamber music concerts from the greatest European orchestras and pianists.

September: Singer's Warsaw Festival : Warsaw, also the martyr city of the Polish Jews during the Second World War, welcomes a multidisciplinary Jewish culture festival: plays, concerts, exhibitions, film screenings, installations, readings, meetings, workshops, etc.

September: Autumn in Warsaw Festival (Warszawska Jesień) : Created in 1956, this contemporary music festival was the only event of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. Today, it is still one of the biggest. It aims to bring the 20th century international scene to the Polish people.

October: Warsaw International Film Festival : This festival brings together the big names on the international scene, in order to improve understanding between cultural areas. It particularly focuses on directors from Central and Eastern Europe.


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