Warsaw , capital city with a long and bloody history, is full of fascinating monuments. Many sites, palaces and buildings are of great significance for Polish culture and architecture.
Royal Palace – The Palace was built in a mix of Baroque and classical styles. It is located on Castle Square.
The Palace was the residence of Polish Princes at the beginning of the 13th century.
It then became the official residence of Polish monarchs when Warsaw became the capital of Poland.
The castle has been looted and damaged over the centuries.
It was almost entirely destroyed by the Germans during the Second World War. It has been undergoing reconstruction and renovation since 1971.
The Royal Castle was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1980, as a symbol of Polish culture and history.
Palace of Culture and Science- the palace was built between 1952 and 1955 as a gift from the Russian nation to Poland.
It was commissioned by Joseph Stalin.
It is the tallest building in Poland with a height of 230.88 meters (to the top of the spire).
It has 42 floors, with a viewing platform on the 30th floor.
In 1956 there was a series of suicidal jumps from the sightseeing platform (the first being a Frenchman, followed by seven Poles) and a special protective fence was thereafter put in place.
For the Millenium a huge clock was added at the top of the palace - the second largest in Europe – thus making it the highest clock tower in the world.
Today cinemas, theaters, libraries, academic institutions and the headquarters of the Polish Academy of Science are located within the building. Many exhibitions take place here, as well as an annual book fair.
Old Town – it is the oldest historic district in Poland.
It is home to a rich collection of buildings of great historical and architectural value from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Around the square stand St John’s Cathedral, the old city walls, Barbakan and delightful merchants’ houses.
It was listed by UNESCO in 1980 (World Heritage).
Łazienki Park - is an architectural complex which includes beautiful palaces and a vast park.
The park is a fine example of Polish classical architecture. It was commissioned by King Stalislaw August Poniatowski.
Within the grounds, you can admire the Palace on the Water (or Palace on the Island) which is a marvelous building from the Neo-classical period, built between 1772 and 1793.
You can also see the White House, summer residence of Stanislaw II; the Myślewicki Palace and the Belvedere (in Polish: Belweder).
Nowadays the park hosts a number of cultural, sporting and scientific events.
You can enjoy the fresh air and a rest on the square in front of the museum.
Chopin Monument – The statue erected to pay homage to the great Polish composer and pianist is located within Łazienki Park.
Although it was first designed in 1908, the statue was only unveiled in 1926. The modern statue depicts the pianist looking pensive and seeking inspiration under a willow tree.
The Germans destroyed the statue during the occupation but it was rebuilt after the war and has graced once again Łazienk Park since 1958.
Wonderful piano concerts take place in the park every weekend, and there are open air Chopin concerts throughout the summer.
Warsaw’s Mermaid Monument
You can see the mermaid, symbol of the city, in many sites around the city.
The main Mermaid Monument stands in the centre of the Old Town square, surrounded by a fountain.
The original monument was transferred to the courtyard of the Historical Museum of Warsaw as it had been vandalized on two occasions. The statue that still stands in the market square is a copy.
You can also see another larger Mermaid Monument near the banks of the Vistula. It is 4.5 meters high. Her right hand is raised and holds a sword whilst her left hand holds a shield close to the chest.
The name of the city is written on the shield with the symbol of Poland, the crowned white eagle.
Monument to the Little insurgent
Located on Powale street, it is an extraordinary monument depicting a child with a gun. The monument commemorates the heroic battle of children aged 8 to 12, child soldiers and Scouts, during the Warsaw uprising.
It was designed by Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz.
The monument was unveiled on 1 October 1983.
Words of a song from the time of the Uprising are written on the back of the monument:
"We the children of Warsaw go into battle; we fight and give our blood to defend every stone of the city."
The children of Warsaw were very brave; on one occasion during the Uprising, a group of young scouts was surrounded by the Germans and they marched towards the German tanks singing that song. Sadly all were killed.
Ghetto Heroes Monument
The monument commemorates the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto
It is located on the site where the first clashes took place between the Nazis and the Jews during the 1943 Uprising in Zamenhofa Street.
It was erected to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 19 April 1948 Uprising. Two inscriptions appear on the walls of the monument: “Struggle”, and “The road towards extermination”.
In December 1970, the German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt on the steps of the monument to express his deep sorrow for the crimes committed by the German nation towards the Jewish people.
Opposite the monument stands the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
The cemetery is of great significance for the Poles, as you can find the tombs of some illustrious individuals from the Polish nobility.
It is the oldest cemetery in Poland (along with the cemetery in Lvov).
It was established in 1790 and covers a vast area of over 100 acres.
You can see the tombs of the victims of World War II as well as the tombs of artists, writers, poets etc. for example: Wojciech Bogusławski, (writer, actor); Krzysztof Kieślowski ( film director), Witold Lutosławski and Stanisław Moniuszko (famous composers), Bolesław Prus (writer), Władysław Reymont (writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize), Stefan Żeromski (writer), Julian Tuwim (poet), Edward Rydz-Śmigły (Marshal of Poland and Head of the Polish police, 1935-1939).
Wilanów – the residence was built in the Baroque style between 1772 and 1775 by King John III Sobieski and is one of the most ancient museums in Poland. Between 1733 and 1945, it belonged to some of the most influential aristocratic families – Czartoryski, Potocki and Branicki. It was badly damaged during the Second World War.
The most important works of art were returned to the Palace after the war.
The palace has since been used as a museum as well as a most important monument. The interior has preserved its original splendour; do not miss the famous gallery of Polish portraits on the first floor.
Belvedere (in Polish: Belweder)
The Palace was built in the Classical style between 1819 and 1822 and is located in Łazienki Park.
The building is a symbol of the Polish Republic. It was the Residence of the Polish Head of State between 1918 and 1922.
It has been the residence of the Polish President since 2010, as it was during 1922-1926, and 1989-1994.
Presidential Palace (or Namiestnikowki Palace)
It is the largest palace in Warsaw. It was built between 1643 and 1645 and is located on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street.
It has been rebuilt several times over the centuries and the latest version in the classical style dates from the renovation it underwent in 1818/1819.
In front of the Palace, you can admire the monument to Prince Józef Antoni Poniatowski.
It was the residence of the President of the Polish Republic between 1993 and 2010, when the current President Bronislaw Komorowski chose to reside at the Belvedere. The palace now only houses offices.
Column of Zygmunt III
The statue commemorates King Zygmunt III and was commissioned by his son Wladislaw IV Vasa in 1643-1644.
The statue was originally made of gold and the main part of the column of red marble.
Destroyed during WWII, the column was repaired and rebuilt in 1948-1949. The column was listed by UNESCO in 1965.
ST John the Baptist Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Warsaw. A wooden chapel stood on the site between the 12th and the 14th centuries. It was destroyed during the Second World War.
It is one of the most important churches in Polish history.
Royal weddings and the coronation of Polish kings used to be held in the cathedral and the first Constitution was sworn there on 3rd May 1791.
Since 1994 it has become an important centre for the international festival of sacred music, with organ concerts and other national events.
The crypts house the tombs of Polish Princes and of King Stanislaw II August Poniatowski, Polish President Gabriel Narutowicz, the writer Henryk Sienkiewicz and composer Ignacy Paderewski.
Holy Cross Church (in Polish: Kościół Św. Krzyża) – a wooden church was built in 1525. The church as it stands nowadays was erected between 1679 and 1696 in the baroque style.
Inside, there are epitaphs to illustrious Polish people, such as Władysław Reymont or Juliusz Słowacki, and an urn containing the heart of Frederic Chopin.
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