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Dates of visit:
April 15 -28, 2007 &
May 9 - 13, 2007

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Revisit family
 Krakow
 Wadowice
 Pope John Paul II
 Nowy Wisnicz Castle
 Warsaw
 Warsaw's Old Town
 Warsaw's Palaces
 Aviation Museum
 Ethnographic Park
 Lipowiec Castle
 Polish dining
 

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Romania
Ukraine
*** Warsaw, Part 1 ***
*** City of Warsaw ***
*** Warsaw's Royal Route ***
*** Old Town Square & The Royal Castle***
*** The Barbican & Warsaw Uprising Memorial ***
        Map of Poland
        Travel Route
        Warsaw's Districts
        Warsaw - An introduction
               Site Gallery - Warsaw
        Marshall (Marszalkowska) Street
        Royal Route (Nowy Swiat)
               Site Gallery - Royal Route (Nowy Swiat)
        Royal Castle
               Site Gallery - Royal Castle
        Stare Miasto (Old Town)
               Site Gallery - Stare Miasto (Old Town)
        Barbican Fortification
               Site Gallery - Barbican Fortification
        Warsaw's 1944 Uprising Memorial
               Site Gallery - Warsaw's 1944 Uprising Memorial
Warsaw - An introduction
Warsaw Location of Warsaw

Warsaw ... ... is not the cold and dead city it used to be under communism’s rule. Today with bustling Polish economy and freedom from communist rule - the city has undergone a huge transformation process. Many old communist buildings gave way to modern sky scrapers, dilapidating old town was restored, entertainment and services transformed to match that of other western capitals. Crime rate is lower than that of big cities in the United States. Today Warsaw boasts GDP per capita more than 85% of European Union average.

History of Warsaw ... Warsaw is one of the youngest capitals in Europe. It became the Polish capital after Cracow in 16th century. Early settlements however already existed in the 10th century. In 1655 Warsaw's development as the country's capital was halted upon the Swedish invasion known as the "deluge". The Swedish forces destroyed and plundered much of Warsaw at that time.

Warsaw experienced its "golden age" in the 18th century under the last Poland's king Stanislaw August Poniatowski. During that time it was transformed into a modern city. During Poland's partitions by 3 countries - Prussia, Austria and Russia - Warsaw was under Russia rule. From late 18th century until the World War I Warsaw never gained independence from Russians. After World War I when Poland gained independence Warsaw was reestablished as the capital of Poland. Until World War II, Varsovians worked hard to build new infrastructure and expand the city. Upon World War II the city's development was stopped.

Within the first 3 weeks after the German invasion in World War II Warsaw's resistance was crushed. After the capitulation of Warsaw - Jewish Ghetto was formed. In April 1943 Warsaw witnessed the uprising in Jewish Ghetto which was brutally crushed by Nazis killing almost all Jews left in Warsaw. In 1944 the famous Warsaw uprising begun - one of the biggest bloodsheds of World War II. For 63 days Varsovians fought the Nazis in hopes of liberating the city. Unfortunately the uprising failed and Hitler ordered the city to be reduced to rubbles. Consequently 85% of the city was destroyed during the war. Half of all the people living in Warsaw prior to World War II were either killed or displaced. Big majority of Jewish population living in Warsaw was exterminated by the Nazis. In addition to that Warsaw was isolated from the West because of communism and Soviet influence.

After World War II Warsaw came under communist control and a massive rebuilding program restored many of the monuments, palaces and castles. Unfortunately only the New Town and Old Town was reconstructed to their original past - the rest of Warsaw's architecture is influenced by socialist realism. People in Warsaw resented the communists and Soviet influence. The living conditions during communism were despicable and there were few opportunities for people to develop themselves. Many Varsovians during communism chose to flee to the West in search of a better life. In 1989 Poland gained freedom from communism and from Soviet influence. It is yet another chance for Warsaw to become one of the most important cities in Europe.

Warsaw after World War II ... On November 10th, 1980 the Solidarity trade movement was legally registered in the Warsaw district court. It demanded wage rises and better living conditions for all People in Poland. It organized massive strikes and protest all around Poland. The movement was supported by the West and was seen as contributing to collapse of communism in the whole Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the Solidarity movement was crushed in December 13th 1981 when martial law was imposed in Poland. In 1989 however Solidarity came to rise again and this time the communists sat down on round table talks with Solidarity members in Warsaw to discuss the future of Poland. Soon free elections were held for all of Poland. The integration of Poland with NATO structures as well as European Union was started.
Text source: http://www.poltravel.com/Warsaw/

Site Gallery - Warsaw, General Views
 
Warsaw National Theatre
National Theatre National Theatre National Theatre
Warsaw At Night
Warsaw at night Warsaw at night Warsaw at night
Marshall (Marszalkowska) Street
Palace of Culture Location of Marshall Street

Marshall (Marszalkowska) Street in Warsaw ... Rebuilding of Warsaw after World War II coincided with emergence of socialist realism. The facades of many buildings in this area show the uninspired architecture style of the communist area. Buildings are generally dull and it is difficult to distinguish one building from the other. However this area shows the remnants of Warsaw's communist past and in that sense it is very interesting. In the heart of Warsaw is the Palace of Culture. This monolithic building was a "gift" from the Soviet Union to Warsaw. It was built in 1955 to the design of a Russian architect and resembles Moscow high-rises. Although it has only 30 stories - it was Europe's second largest building at that time.

Royal Route (Nowy Swiat)
Royal Route Location of Royal Route (Nowy Swiat)

The Royal Route (Nowy Swiat) ... extends from Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square) in Stare Miasto to the end of Krakowskie Przedmiescie and Nowy Swiat (basically the same long street) at rondo Ch. de Gaulle. Along both streets one can admire buildings that are predominantly Neo-Classical in style as well as many churches and palaces. Nowy Swiat and Krakowskie Przedmiescie also feature many exclusive cafes, restaurants, stores and fashionable boutiques. Nowy Swiat is great for walks as part of the street is closed for traffic. In middle ages this area was occupied by Warsaw's wealthiest residents. The area suffered during the Swedish invasion in 1655 but it was soon rebuilt.


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Site Gallery - Royal Route (Nowy Swiat)
 
Along Royal Route (Nowy Swiat Street)
Architectural Facades
Nowy Swiat Street Nowy Swiat Street Nowy Swiat Street
Nowy Swiat Street Nowy Swiat Street Nowy Swiat Street
Nowy Swiat Street Nowy Swiat Street Nowy Swiat Street
Visitation Nuns' Church & Presidents Palace
Visitations Nuns Church Presidents Palace Presidents Palace
Carmelite Church
Carmelite Church Carmelite Church Carmelite Church
St. Ann Church
St. Ann Church St. Ann Church St. Ann Church
Royal Castle
Royal Castle Location of Royal Castle

The Royal Castle ... the royal palace and official residence of the Polish monarchs; a magnificent example of baroque style - it was built in the 14th century. The personal offices of the king, as well as the administrative offices of the Royal Court of Poland were located there until the Partitions of Poland. Between 1926 and World War II the palace was the seat of the Polish president.

In 1569 King Zygmunt III Waza moved his residence to the Royal Castle as Warsaw became the capital of Poland. Between 1598 and 1619 the king had the Royal Castle restyled into a polygon by Italian architects. In 18th century King Augustus III turned the East wing into Baroque style while King Stanislaw Poniatowski added the Royal library. The Royal castle served as both a residence for the kings as well as hosted Sejm sessions (Polish parliament).

History ... partially destroyed by German bombers during the Invasion of Poland, it was heavily damaged by German bombardment and artillery fire during the Warsaw Uprising. The remnants were blown up by German engineers in September 1944 and were not removed until 1971. Reconstructions were started in the early 1970s and in July 1974 the clock on the tower began working again, on the exact same time at which it was stopped by the Luftwaffe bombardment.

Nowadays it is used as a branch of the National Museum and for ceremonial purposes. During the Siege of Warsaw in 1939 many of the works of art from the castle were transferred to several basements around Warsaw and hidden from German authorities. They survived the war and were put on exhibition in their original place.

Interior ... the interior consists of many different rooms, all painstakingly restored with as much original exhibits as possible after the destruction of the Second World War (see gallery below).


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Site Gallery - Royal Castle
 
The Royal Castle
Castle Square
Castle Place Castle Place Castle Place
Castle Exterior Architectural Facades
The Royal Castle The Royal Castle The Royal Castle
Castle Rooms
  The Councils Chamber  
Poland’s first cabinet sat in session here. The King himself sat in the chair.
The Councils Chamber The Councils Chamber The Councils Chamber
  Great Assembly Hall  
Created in 1781; used for state ceremonies.
Great Assembly Hall Great Assembly Hall Great Assembly Hall
  Knights Hall  
Also known as the Polish Hall of Fame – honoring Poles who served the country; a Polish Pantheon. Created in 1786.
Knights Hall Knights Hall Knights Hall
  Throne Room  
Recreated in 1995. Back of throne is covered in regularly spaced eagles embroidered in silver with gold crowns. All original eagles plundered by Nazis ... one rediscovered in 1991 and used as model.
Throne Room Throne Room Throne Room
  Kings Bedchamber  
When he left the Castle in 1795, King Stanislaus Augustus took his bed with him. The bed shown is a reconstruction based on period pieces.
Kings Bedchamber Kings Bedchamber Kings Bedchamber
  Old Audience Chamber  
Served as a room where the King held his audiences before Stanislaus Augustus had the Throne Room in the Great Apartment fitted out.
Old Audience Chamber Old Audience Chamber Old Audience Chamber
  Royal Chapel  
Part of the King's Apartment, used for daily rites. He attended masses in St. John's Collegiate Church. Pope John Paul II prayed twice in the Castle Chapel, in 1987 and 1991.
Royal Chapel Royal Chapel Royal Chapel
  Canaletto Room  
Owing its name to a great Venetian painter, B. Bellotto, known as Canaletto. Paintings depict Warsaw and Wilanow.
Canaletto Room Canaletto Room Canaletto Room
  Green Room  
Part of the King’s apartment. Served as sitting room and used for meetings with ministers and high-ranking courtiers.
Green Room Green Room Green Room
  Yellow Room  
Used as a small dining room. In 1771-1782 it was here that the famous Thursday Repasts were held to which the King invited poets, writers, and scholars.
Yellow Room Yellow Room Yellow Room
  Marble Room  
Created during the reign of Ladislaus IV (1640-1642). It was dedicated to the monarchs of the Jagellionian Dynasty. In 1769, Stanislaus Augustus dedicated the room to the memory of all Polish monarchs.
Marble Room Marble Room Marble Room
Stare Miasto (Old Town)
Old Town Square Location of Old Town Market Square

Old Town Market Square ... is by far the most popular place for resting and walking for both Varsovians and tourists. The old and charming architecture, quaint cafes and restaurants, small and enticing shops create a unique atmosphere that is not found in other cities in Europe. When the weather is warm, the square becomes filled with cafe tables and artists performing outside. Until the end of 18th century the Old town market square was the most important place in Warsaw. Regular fairs and festivities were held here. During World War II the market square turned into rubbles - but after many years of reconstruction it was restored to its original beauty.

The Old town is the best place for walks. Most of this area is closed to traffic and it a paradise for pedestrians. Most interesting walks are in the vicinity of the market square and Royal Castle square. Here you will find many narrow, cobbled streets with quaint antique shops, cafes, and beautiful old houses. Piwna Street takes you across much of the Old Town and passes through multiple tourist attractions. Almost every building you will see in the Old Town will be old with unique architecture. Old Town is a blend of different styles - from gothic to baroque.


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Site Gallery - Old Town Market Square
 
To Old Town Square
St. Johns Cathedral St. Johns Cathedral St. Johns Cathedral
The Siren - Symbol of Warsaw
The Siren The Siren The Siren
Old Town Square
Old Town Square Old Town Square Old Town Square
Old Town Square Facades
Town Square Facades Town Square Facades Town Square Facades
Town Square Facades Town Square Facades Town Square Facades
Town Square Facades Town Square Facades Town Square Facades
Barbakan Fortification
Barbican Fortification Location of Barbican Fortification

Barbakan Warszawski (The Warsaw Barbican) ... a semicircular fortified outpost and one of few remaining relics of the complex network of historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw. Located between the Old and New Towns, it is a major tourist attraction.

History ... The barbican was erected in 1548 in place of an older gate to protect Nowomiejska Street. The barbican had the form of a three-level semicircular bastion manned by fusiliers. It was 14 meters wide and 15 meters high from the bottom of the moat, which surrounded the city walls, and extended 30 meters from the external walls. Almost immediately after its inception, the 4-tower barbican became an anachronism serving virtually no practical purpose. This was largely a result of the rapid advancement in artillery power. It was used in the defense of the city only once, during the Swedish invasion of Poland, on 30 June 1656, when it had to be recaptured by the Polish army of Polish king Jan Kazimierz from the Swedes.

In the 18th century, the barbican was partially dismantled as its defensive value was negligible, and the city benefited more from a larger gate which facilitated movement of people and goods in and out of the city. In the 19th century, its remains were incorporated into newly-built apartment buildings (kamienica). During the interwar period, in 1937–1938, Jan Zachwatowicz reconstructed part of the walls and the western part of the bridge, demolishing one of the newer buildings in the reconstruction process. However, a lack of funds delayed the barbican's planned complete reconstruction, and the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany put the plans on hold.

During World War II, particularly the Siege of Warsaw (1939) and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, the barbican was largely destroyed, as were most of the Old Town's buildings. It was rebuilt after the war, during 1952–1954, on the basis of 17th century etchings, as the new government decided it would be cheaper to rebuild the barbican and the nearby city walls as a tourist attraction than to rebuild the kamienica apartments. In its reconstruction, bricks were used from historic buildings demolished in the cities of Nysa and Wroclaw; most of the barbican was rebuilt save for two exterior gates and the oldest tower on the side of the Old Town.

Site Gallery - Barbican Fortification
 
Barbican Fortification Barbican Fortification Barbican Fortification
Warsaw's 1944 Uprising Memorial
Uprising Memorial Location of Uprising Memorial

Wystawa Powstanie Warszawskie ... 1944 Warsaw Uprising Memorial (description of uprising from a plaque at the memorial.) The Warsaw uprising against German occupation broke out on August 1, 1944. It was started by 23 thousand poorly armed soldiers of the Home Army of the Warsaw district under the command of General Antoni Chrusciel, code named "Monter." Other underground units and Warsaw citizens joined the insurgents. Asserting control, civilian and military structures under the command of the Polish government in London began functioning openly, organizing administration, medical, services and rescue squads. A massive inflow of volunteers swelled insurgent ranks to 50 thousand troops. What began as an enthusiastic and spontaneous outbreak of fighting became a 63-day heroic struggle for liberation of the city by the home army's own forces before the Red Army, whose units had already reached the suburb of the Praga district, entered the capital.

To quell the insurrection, German troop reinforcements soon increased the 16 thousand-man local garrison to 50 thousand army, SS and police units, including units notorious for their cruelty and atrocities. The supremacy of the German military equipment was overwhelming. Air Force, Panzers and artillery were used against the insurgents' rifles, pistols, grenades and petrol bombs. High military technology and brutality battled hope and unswerving will to fight the enemy.

Fighting bravely, the insurgents captured the centre of the city with the Old Town and the Vistula embankment, as well as several other districts of Warsaw, but they failed to seize the bridges and the Okecie Airport. They succeeded in capturing some German arms and ammunition and some groups of insurgents went to the woods near Warsaw to continue their battle from there. But contrary to all expectations, the Red Army remained in their positions on the outskirts of Warsaw and did not assist the insurgents.

After 3 days of fighting, German forces seized initiative. Launching massive attacks by tanks and from the air, they started destroying insurgents' strongholds. They also began a program of mass extermination aimed at Warsaw's civilian population. Soon, the city was burning and the strength of the insurgent-held areas was weaker and weaker.

On September 14, the 1st Polish army, which formed part of the Red Army, entered the Praga distirict of Eastern Warsaw, its two battalions joined the insurgents and fought by their side in the Czerniakow area, but attempts to seize bridgeheads in the Powisle and Zoliborz districts failed.

Lacking food and ammunition and weakening by the Red Army's failure to cooperate, the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Army, General "Bor" Tadeusz Komorowski, surrendered on October 2, 1944. The insurgents became prisoners of war and the population of Warsaw was deported, some to labor and concentration camps. The deserted city was looted, destroyed and burned, and the Old Town, with its beautiful architecture was razed.

More than 40 thousand Polish insurgents and about 140 thousand civilians were killed or wounded. A large number of allied pilots flying air-drop missions were also killed. On the German side, an estimated 25 thousand troops were killed, wounded or missing in action.

The Warsaw uprising monument was unveiled on Krasinski Square, a site of fierce fighting, on August 1, 1989. It was designed by Prof. Wincenty Kucma and architect Jacek Budyn; erected with donated funds. It consists of two groups of sculptures ... one group of sculptures depicts an attack by an insurgent unit; the other, an "Exodus," a withdrawal by canals.

Site Gallery - Warsaw's 1944 Uprising Memorial
 
Attack by an insurgent unit
Attack by insurgents Attack by insurgents Attack by insurgents
"Exodus"
Exodus Exodus Exodus
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