Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. Once described as Paris of the East, Warsaw was believed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world until World War II, which left over 85% of the city in ruins. Nearly every building, including the Old Town (Stare Miasto), has been rebuilt since the war and been around only for a few decades. Today the city is an international tourist destination and a significant cultural, political and economic hub.
The Warsaw Barbican is a barbican (semicircular fortified outpost) that is one of few remaining relics of the complex network of historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw. The barbican was erected in 1540 in place of an older gate. During World War II, particularly the Siege of Warsaw (1939) and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, it was largely destroyed and was rebuilt after the war. Today it has become a popular tourist attraction.
Mały Powstaniec (the "Little Insurrectionist") is a statue in commemoration of the child soldiers who fought and died during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The statue is of a young boy wearing a helmet too large for his head and holding a submachine gun. The helmet and submachine gun are stylized after German equipment, which was captured during the uprising and used by the resistance fighters against the occupying forces.
The Old Town Square is the center and oldest part of the Old Town of Warsaw. Originated in the late 13th century, it was the heart of Warsaw until the end of the 18th century. The houses around it represented the Gothic style until the great fire of 1607, after which they were rebuilt in late-Renaissance style and eventually in late-Baroque style in 1701. Immediately after the Warsaw Uprising, it was systematically blown up by the German Army. After World War II, the Old Town Market Place was restored to its prewar appearance. The Warsaw Mermaid, a bronze sculpture, has stood as the symbol of Warsaw since 1855.
St. John's Archcathedral is the mother church of the archdiocese of Warsaw. It is one of Poland's national pantheons. Along with the city, the church has been listed by UNESCO as of cultural significance. Originally built in the 14th century in Masovian Gothic style, the Archcathedral was connected with the Royal Castle by an elevated 80-meter-long corridor that had been built by Queen Anna Jagiellonka in the late 16th century. The church was rebuilt several times, most notably in the 19th century, it was preserved until World War II as an example of English Gothic Revival.
Originated in the mid 14th century, the Royal Castle in Warsaw (Zamek Królewski w Warszawie) is a castle residency that formerly served throughout the centuries as the official residence of the Polish monarchs. Burned and looted by the Nazi Germans in 1939 and almost completely destroyed in 1944 after the failed Warsaw Uprising, the Castle was completely rebuilt and reconstructed. Today, the Castle is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to its iconic appearance and its long history, it is one of Warsaw's most recognizable landmarks.
Sigismund's Column (Kolumna Zygmunta), originally erected in 1644, is located in Castle Square and is one of Warsaw's most famous landmarks. The column and statue commemorate King Sigismund III Vasa, who in 1596 had moved Poland's capital from Kraków to Warsaw. Sigismund's Column now stands at 22 metres and is adorned by four eagles. The king is dressed in armor and carries a cross in one hand and wields a sword in the other.
St. Anne's Church is one of Poland's most notable churches with a Neoclassical facade. The church ranks among Warsaw's oldest buildings. Over time, it has seen many reconstructions, resulting in its present-day appearance, unchanged since 1788. The interior of the church is now in high-baroque style with several chapels. The church makes an overwhelming impression on the visitor with its surprisingly rich interior filled with frescoes. The only example of a diamond vault preserved in Warsaw can be seen in the cloister leading to the vestry. It is adjacent to the Castle Square and served by the Stare Miasto 01 Station.
The Grand Theatre (Teatr Wielki) is a theatre complex, opera company, and home of the Polish National Ballet and it is one of the largest theatres in Europe and in the world. The Theatre was inaugurated in 1833 with a production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville. It performed an important cultural and political role in producing many works by Polish composers and choreographers. After near-complete destruction in World War II, it was rebuilt and reopened in 1965. For over 170 years the Grand Theatre has been Poland's grandest opera and ballet institution.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza) is a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who have given their lives for Poland. It is one of many such national tombs of unknowns that were erected after World War I, and the most important such monument in Poland. The Tomb is constantly lit by an eternal flame and assisted by a guard post by the Representative Battalion of the Polish Army. The changing of the guard takes place on the hour of every hour daily and this happens 365 days a year.
Found in 1860, the Zachęta National Gallery of Art (Narodowa Galeria Sztuki), is a contemporary art museum of which main aim is to present and support Polish contemporary art and artists. With numerous temporary exhibitions of well known foreign artists, the gallery has also established itself internationally. The gallery owns an extensive collection of paintings, graphic works, drawings and photographs by both Polish and well-known international artists.
Established in 1862, the National Museum in Warsaw (Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie) is one of the largest museums in Poland and the largest in the capital. It comprises a rich collection of ancient art (Egyptian, Greek, Roman), an extensive gallery of Polish painting since the 16th century and a collection of foreign painting (Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, German and Russian) including some paintings from Adolf Hitler's private collection, ceded to the Museum by the American authorities in post-war Germany.
The Presidential Palace (Pałac Prezydencki) is the elegant classicist latest version of a building that has stood since 1643. It was in 1818 that the palace began its ongoing career as a governmental structure, when it became the seat of the Viceroy of the Polish (Congress) Kingdom under Russian occupation. Over the years, it has been rebuilt and remodeled many times. For its first 175 years, the palace was the private property of several aristocratic families. Today, it serves as the seat of the Polish Council of Ministers. It is served by Metro at Nowy Świat-Uniwersytet Station.
Krakowskie Przedmieście (literally: Kraków suburb) is one of the best known and most prestigious streets of Warsaw, surrounded by historic palaces, churches and manor-houses. It was established in the 15th century as a trade route. It is one of the oldest avenues in Warsaw and the first part of the Royal Route. By the 19th century, Krakowskie Przedmieście had many Baroque and Classical-style churches, palaces and dwellings. The street's development continued into the 20th century with the erection of commercial buildings and hotels .
Constructed in 1955, the Palace of Culture and Science is a notable high-rise building containing public institutions and cultural activities such as concerts, cinemas, theaters, libraries, sports clubs, universities, scientific institutions and authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The PKiN was designed by a Soviet architect in "Seven Sisters" style and is informally referred to as the Eighth Sister. The architecture is closely related to several similar skyscrapers built in the Soviet Union of the same era and the monumental walls are headed with pieces of masonry copied from Renaissance houses and palaces of Kraków and Zamość.
Łazienki Park (literally: "Baths Park" or "Royal Baths") is the largest park in the city. Originally designed in the 17th century as a baths park (hence the name), it is now visited by tourists from all over Poland and the world, and serves as a venue for music, the arts, and culture. The park include many features such the Palace on the Isle, a classical amphitheater, the Egyptian Temple, a water tower and so on.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum is dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. It collects and maintains hundreds of artifacts — ranging from weapons used by the insurgents to love letters — to present a full picture of the people involved. Its exhibits contain photographs, audio and video, interactive displays, artifacts, written accounts, and other testimonies of how life was during the German occupation of Warsaw, the uprising, and its aftermath.