To get to know Warsaw, you need to talk about its history.
There were only a few cities in Europe that were as completely destroyed as this historic city in the wake of World War 2. The heart of Poland was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the western world, and was nicknamed the Paris of the North. During the war, the Polish government was exiled to Paris, then Angers, and later London. Though they never fully disbanded, they were not recognized as the Soviets had placed their own government in power following the end of the War. Finally in 1990 elections offered up the first non-communist president of Poland and brought Poland into a new era.
The entrance to one of the Polish Ghettos still stands as a reminder of the city’s past. Behind new towers rise up above the Warsaw skyline.
Because of its wild past, architecture in Poland is eclectic in unique ways. Its different Keret House is an art installation that represents the bridge from the pre-war Polish residential building on the right and a newer apartment building on the left.
If you get to visit Warsaw, the Red Hog (Czerwonym Wieprzem) offers a unique historical meal. In an old socialist Leipzig hall a bricked off room held a treasure trove of soviet medals uniforms and a fresco of Marx, Lenin and Engels and a box of recipes. Once there stood the Iron Tavern which Lenon frequented during the early 1900’s. It appears that in the 1960’s, to celebrate the first May Day parade in 1905 a secret bar was built beneath the Leipzig to lavish dignitaries of the Soviet state when they were visiting town. Today, with the help of the notes and a a wonderful sense of humor, the Red Hog pays “tribute” to its former guests by recreating the elitist supper club for the masses, which delightfully named dishes that cater to the needs of the bourgeois and the proletariat alike.
The crown jewel of Warsaw has to be Old Town though. Recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1980, this beautiful heart of the city represents architecture that spans from 1300’s to the 20th century. The center of town was completely destroyed during World War 2 and was meticulously put back together with the helps of city plans that had survived and aerial photographs from before the war. The impressive reconstruction has drawn visitors from throughout the world to walk its cobbled streets and visit its historic cathedrals and museums, or just to sit in the center plaza.s
Castle square flanks on side of Old town, which is surrounded by a medieval wall that protected Warsaw. The castle was first home to the Dukes of Masovia, and later the royalty of the Polish-Lithuanian monarchy. Later in 1791 it was the location where the national constitution was signed for Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. The Castle Square has been the center of many political changes over the course of Polish history and is now also a UNESCO World Heritage site along with Old Town.
Warsaw is a beautiful city, one that is growing at a rate that even Berlin can’t keep up with. A leader in the former Eastern Bloc nations, it continues to thrive in its autonomy. Throughout its storied past, it has shown an indomitable spirit that continues to help it prosper. The city’s symbol is a freshwater mermaid (or melusina) that stands with drawn sword and shield to protect the city. Even though the city has its scars, it continues to be a peerless city, as there is no place in the world like it.