The capital city of Poland, Warsaw features the tallest four-faced clock tower in the world. It can be found at the Palace of Culture and Science built in 1956. A place where you can step back in time is Warsaw’s Old Town even though it is only 50 years old having been reconstructed after WWII. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Warsaw is an amazing city with a mixture of Art Nouveau architecture and modern-glass skyscrapers. There are a lot of parks and gardens in which to relax. It is also a city of surprises like a rooftop garden atop of the University of Warsaw Library. There are many exciting things to do and to see so it is possible just to mention some of the highlights. The rest you’ll have to make a trip to Warsaw to enjoy and see.
The Stare Miasto or Old Town has lots of wonderful things to see. It is the historic center and oldest part of Warsaw and is full of culture. Some of the things to see in the Old Town are:
Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski) – dating back to the 15th century it was the residence of Mazovian princes. When Warsaw became the capital the castle was the seat of the king and the government. Having been renovated many times today the segment with the clock tower is the way into the Old Town. In the museum you can see art work such as two original Rembrant paintings and works by Bernardo Bellotto, aka Canaletto, court painter to Polish King Stanisław August Poniatowski. There are the recently renovated Kubicki Arcades that support the foundations and the cliffs giving the structure its shape. In the Arcades you can see an archaeological exhibit and pension.
The oldest and non-church monument the King Zygmunt III Waza Column was built in 1644 by King Wladyslaw IV in honor of his father Zygmunt III Waza, who was responsible for moving the capital of Poland from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596. This monument stands 22 meters high and atop of it is the figure of the King measuring 275 cm. He holds a sword in his right hand symbolizing bravery and the cross in his left hand symbolizes readiness to fight evil.
One of the most picturesque corners in the city is the Old Town Market Square which was founded in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The Old Town was totally destroyed in 1944 and all of the buildings were reconstructed after the war making sure that their appearance perfectly matched the Old Town Square’s original look in the 17th and 18th centuries. There is an interesting legend that says that in the basements of the buildings found along one side of Dekert, at the corner of Krzywe Kolo there lives a Basilisk. For those of you who don’t know this term it is a giant serpent. At one time it guarded treasures that were stored there and supposedly any man who attempted to get to the treasures was killed just from a gaze by the Basilisk turning them to stone. The Basilisk was defeated by a traveling tailor who showed him a mirror and it petrified the monster. Today on the façade of a building you can see a picture of the Basilisk which is the symbol of the renowned Warsaw restaurant of the same name.
Outside of the Old Town a wonderful place to visit is the Lazienki Krolewskie Museum, a palace – garden complex featuring a 76 hectare nature park in the city center along with various historical objects. At one time there was a forest here and the park was created from it letting the animals roam in natural conditions. It became the most beautifully planed area in Warsaw in the 18th century. It is a wonderful place to stroll, explore and admire the architecture of the buildings here and see all of the monuments. It functions as a museum and a place for cultural, scientific and entertainment events. This is also a place for music lovers as at the foot of the world’s most famous monument of Fryderyk Chopin free piano concerts are given during the summer on Saturdays and Sundays.
If you love horses and the excitement of horse racing then head for the Mokotowskie Fields. Back in 1777 the first horse race was held in Warsaw right in the city center along Marszalkowska Street before the horse racing track was built. The large, race track at Sluzewiec opened in 1939. The racing season starts in the spring and runs till late autumn. The most important events of the horse racing season are the Opening Race day and the races with the longest traditions – the Derby and Wielka Warszawska.
Both children and grown-ups can find lots to enjoy at the Warsaw Zoological Garden founded in 1928. Here you can see around 5,000 animals from 500 different species. The zoo stretches for 40 hectares. There are animals native to Poland like otters, brown bears and storks. Among the exotic species are African elephants, Rothschild giraffes, Indian rhinoceros, gibbons, and different species of birds, reptiles and tropical fish. All of the animals are viewed from runways and kept in the buildings during the winter. Birds can be found freely roaming about the zoo especially around the ponds and aviaries. The majority of the birds can be seen at the main aviary which is the only “Hall of Free Flight” in Poland. Within the zoo are several restaurants and souvenir shops. Especially for children there is the “Fairytale Zoo” where they can pet the animals and feed them carrots and apples. There is also a great playground.
There is so much more to see and enjoy in all of Warsaw so add it to your list of places to see.