During my trip in 2009 to research the origin of my roots in Poland, I spent some time exploring the city of Warsaw, Poland. It is a multicultural city that provides lots of historical references, but also incorporates the busy skyline of any modern world capital city. Many people do not realize that Warsaw was all but destroyed during WW II with the bombing of the city by Hitler in 1943 during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The historical Old Town is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and today is completely rebuilt with a interesting delineation of what was still old and what was new. With only a few days to take in the sights, here is a quick guide to the major points of interest that I would recommend.
The colossal building called the Palace Culture and Science Center was donated to Poland from the Stalin’s USSR and is very visible in the center of Warsaw, just a few blocks from the Main Train Station. As you can see, it is definitely Soviet era construction, but offers great views of the city from the observation deck floor atop the building. Now used mainly as theaters, libraries, sports clubs, university offices, and the Polish Academy of Sciences offices. Completed in 1955, it is definitely worth the entrance fee to go up to the top because standing at 778 feet, it is still the tallest building in all of Poland,
We travel over to Old Town as we saw it from the views at the top of the Palace Building in the distance. As I said before, Warsaw was completely bombed by the Nazis and little remained. The Old Town section was completely rebuilt from old photos and architectural plans to look as it did in the past before WW II. Notice the wider grout line on the outside walls, to demonstrate what was still original and what was replaced during the reconstruction.
The Warsaw Ghetto provides a start reminder of what happened here with millions of Jews being deported from Warsaw to the concentration camps in Poland and Germany.
A quick stop at the Holy Cross Church where Frederic Chopin was buried…..actually his heart was interned here pickled in a jar and place inside a column. The rest of his body is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. In my travels I have been to both of the final resting places of this famous Polish composer.
Now after the touring, it is time to have lunch in the Old World Podwale Restaurant featuring true Polish cuisine in its unique setting in Old Town. As you can see from my photos here, the sausages and meats are the main course of the day!
It is my last day in Warsaw as I planned to take a quick side trip to Krakow, Poland just a few hours away via high speed train. There is so much to see in this incredible city to the southwest of Warsaw, so check out my blog about Krakow to get all the details!