the second half of the 18th c. Warsaw was a
bustling city too.
Poland's capital city 300 kilometers from Krakow.
Poland’s capital is also its biggest city and
principal business center. Since the Nazis razed
it methodically in 1944, downtown Warsaw lacks
historical monuments and its landmarks are of
either postwar construction or postwar
reconstruction, the Old Town and the Royal Castle
in the first place. As the capital city, Warsaw
boasts an array of National culture institutions – The National Opera, The National
Theater, The National Library, etc – and vies
with Krakow for cultural
preeminence. There are also admirable restaurants
and vigorous nightlife.
14th-century founded, Warsaw arrived rather
late on Poland’s map. Yet, as the
country expanded north and east in the 15th
century, the once humble peripheral town gained
central location and soon became commercial and
political hub. In 1609, when Krakow’s Royal Castle needed repair after
a fire, King Sigismund III moved his residence
temporarily to Warsaw, which proved permanent. In
1791 the city was at last officially sanctioned
as the capital of Poland. When the heroic 1944
Warsaw Uprising against the overwhelming Nazi
forces failed, they took their revenge and
demolished the city block after block.
Vistula (Wisla) river, the same that flows
through Krakow, divides the 1,8-milion Warsaw in
two. The eastern right-bank part called Praga
has no major tourist attractions. The city center
lies on the left bank, with the rebuilt
historical Old Town to the north and main
government and embassy district to the south.
While Stalin-era edifices mark downtown Warsaw,
prefab-concrete blocks of flats mar the suburbs.
Mushrooming corporate towers has made Warsaw the second construction site in the Central
Europe after Berlin.
tourist sights of Warsaw
Old Town’s 1949-1963 reconstruction tried
to restore its architectural best from the 17th
and 18th centuries, and most visitors find the
result enchanting. The historical district
surrounds atmospheric central square with
open-air cafés and art stalls. The Warsaw
Historical Museum occupies its northern side
displaying collections from the city’s earlier
history and documents of the World War 2 tragedy. Royal
Castle on the rim of the Old Town was rebuilt
from foundations up in the years 1971-1980. The
massive edifice has taken the shape the former
residence of both Poland’s elected monarchs and
its powerful parliaments acquired in the late
18th-century refurbishment. The state halls and
royal apartments have been meticulously redone
and, filled with period furniture and art, opened
to the public. Royal Route, running from the
Royal Castle south to the Polish last monarch’s
summer residence in Lazienki Palace, is lined
with churches, palaces, museums, galleries, and
government buildings. Turning left at the first
traffic circle one finds the National Museum with
an excellent accumulation of Polish art, medieval
through contemporary, and a unique collection of
early Christian frescos from the Polish-excavated
cathedral in Sudan’s Pharos besides an amazing
display of Coptic crosses. Farther south, on an
island in vast Lazienki Park, is the 18th-century
exquisite Classic Palace on the Water. Still
farther south is another and older royal summer
residence amid fine park–the 17th-century
Versailles-like Baroque Wilanow Palace.
most outstanding landmark, literally, is the
230-meter-tall Stalin-era Palace of Culture
and Science in the city center, ugly and
pretentious, yet specious enough to shelter
innumerable offices as well as 3 theaters,
Poland’s biggest Congress Hall, 2 museums, a
playhouse, and trade-fair facilities. And there
is a viewing gallery on top of it.
An array of places all over the Old Town serves
Polish and international food. Good restaurants
are found in other parts of the city too. Notably
ethnic cuisine outlets–from Vietnamese to
Italian–have mushroomed in the recent years.
And a downtown hotel restaurant is a safe bet.
Krakow and Warsaw are linked by shuttle express
trains that reach either destination in
roughly three hours, no stops in between. Besides, as Poland's
capital, Warsaw is a busy transport hub for
airlines, trains and buses, domestic and
international. The main railroad station – Warszawa
Centralna – is placed in the very city
center, next to the towering Palace of Culture
and Science. Warsaw international and
domestic Okecie airport is some 10km
southwest from it.
tours and day trips
nation, geography, climate, wildlife,
Poland's prime tourist attraction and a
must in Central Europe boasts numerous
world-class monuments, charming vistas,
delightful atmosphere, and the best restaurants.
the proximity of Krakow
Krakow is Poland's tourist mecca, and
also a gateway to many other must-see sites in
are over 26,000 beds one may choose from.
restaurants in Krakow