Historic Centre of Warsaw
Warsaw constitutes an exception on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List. It’s the only urban complex almost entirely reconstructed after the WWII total destruction. The careful reconstruction was so well done that the international community demonstrated its great appreciation through putting the historic city center of Warsaw on the list of the unique world heritage sites.
The contemporary Warsaw is a big city, Poland’s capital and its cultural, scientific, educational and tourist center. It is also the seat of many important financial institutions and big companies.
The small medieval settlement quickly developed to acquire its municipal rights in the early 14th century. Located upon the Vistula, an important transportation route, Warsaw was growing fast in importance and size. It was soon surrounded by defensive walls and the first brick houses were erected in the 14th century. In the early 17th century, the Warsaw castle became the seat of King Zygmunt III Waza, who just at that time transferred the country’s capital from Kraków to Warsaw. It was also at that time that the Old Town was greatly reshaped and connected with the New Town. Thus, the city’s development continued outside its defensive walls.
World War II brought total destruction to the oldest part of the city. Other quarters of Poland’s capital also lay in ruins. The reconstruction of the city took several years, and the rebuilding of the Royal Castle started only in 1971.
Due to the effort and skill of our architects and conservators as well as to the flow of time, today tourists are not able to distinguish original fragments of the historic buildings from the reconstructed ones. The charming Old Town streets lead to the Market Square where artists display their works and visitors can enjoy a meal or café in the numerous restaurant and café gardens or take a buggy ride. The first-floors of many houses are occupied by stylish restaurants, art galleries, antique and souvenir shops. Worth a visit are Old Town richly adorned churches and interesting museums.
The Royal Castle is a real trove of national mementos; its interiors are beautifully decorated and contain many works of art by the most famous European and Polish artists. Very popular is the nearby Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, the favorite meeting place and strolling area for Varsovians and tourists.