Top 10 – Warsaw’s monuments

No ideas for this year’s vacations? Go to the capital. You can choose between many cultural events, such as Jewish Culture Festival Singer’s Warsaw, and various theatre performances in the Palace of Culture and Science. Contrary to popular opinion, Warsaw is interesting and colourful, and do prove that, we’ve prepared a list of the most interesting sites, which are well worth your visit.

Top 10 – Warsaw’s monumentsWarszawska Starówka

© Juststone JKaminska/Fotolia.com

No 10. The National Museum
Behold the Museum of Fine Arts. It is home to works of art from antiquity, medieval times, the Orient and modernity. The collection includes pictures, sculptures, posters, drawings, graphics, coins, medals, photographs, fabrics and books. The museum offers special exhibitions, which are often unique or unconventional.

No 9. The Presidential Palace
Also known as the Namiestnikowski Palace, Radziwiłłów Palace, Lubomierskich Palace or Koniecpolskich Palace. Constructed in mid 17th century, it was used during World War II by the Germans as a hotel and a casino. At the moment it is the residing place of the President of the Republic of Poland. An interesting fact: it is where Frederic Chopin played his first public concert.

No 8. St. John's Archcathedral in Warsaw
The oldest church in Warsaw “squeezed” between two tenement houses on Świętojańska Street. It dates from the 13th century, although it was reconstructed later. The Cathedral is the resting place of King Stanisław August Poniatowski, President Gabriel Narutowicz and Ignacy Mościcki, the writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, Izabella Wazówna and the painter Marcello Bacciarelli. Quite a chunk of history!

No 7. Palace of Culture and Science
With its 44 storeys, it is the highest building in Poland. The idea for it is attributed to the soviet leader Joseph Stalin; it was to be a proof of Polish-Soviet friendship. The top of the Palace is occupied by the second largest clock in Europe. It is host to many exhibitions, several theatres, a cinema, concert halls, the Technical Museum and the Museum of Evolution. The 30th floor offers a panorama of the city from a special observation deck.

No 6.  Wilanów Palace
This early baroque palace has been constructed for Jan III Sobieski, but now it has been transformed into the Museum of King John III's Palace at Wilanów. It features gorgeous halls and a huge, romantic garden. Music events are held there, such as King’s Summer Concerts in the Rose Garden and the International Summer Academy of Early Music.

No 5. Warsaw Ghetto , Próżna Street
Próżna Street is the only street which survived the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. Among the renovated buildings, there is number 14 which bears witness to the times when  Polish Jews lived here: there are portraits of the old tenants hanging in the windows. The tragedies of war are also commemorated by the effigy of a praying Hitler kneeling in the gate. For 10 years now the street has been hosting the Festival of Jewish Culture Singer’s Warsaw (usually at the end of August). The street ends with a modern park and a memorial. It is a space of contemplation of the difficult Polish history.  

No 4. Powązki Cemetery
The most beautiful cemetery in Poland. It was founded at the end of the 18th century. Interestingly, it is comparable in size to the Vatican. Tourists come here to see the graves of great Poles, mausoleums and beautiful sepulchral sculptures of angels or important figures. Although there are graves of regular people there, nowadays Powązki are considered a cemetery of the elite. It is the final resting place of the writer  Marek Hłasko, the poet Bolesław Leśmian, the singer Jan Kiepura, the actor Gustaw Holubek and the famous  “woman who fears no work” from one of old Polish series, the actress Irena Kwiatkowska. The grave with two hands folded in the shape of a movie frame mark the grave of the director Krzysztof Kieślowski. This cemetery offers you an eye to eye encounter with modern Polish history.

No 3. The Royal Castle
The Great Tower was constructed first (i.e. in 14 century). The size it boasts today is a result of the design of king Sigismund III Waza in 15th century. The Royal Castle was destroyed in 17th century, bombarded at the beginning of World War II, and blown up at its end. Each time it was rebuilt – the last time thanks to the great efforts of the people of Warsaw. At the moment the Royal Castle Museum is open all year around. It also hosts concerts, exhibitions, film screenings and lectures. The Castle may be visited individually or with a guide.

No 2. Łazienki Park
If you don’t believe that Warsaw may be beautiful and colourful, go to  Łazienki Park. Comprising of three gardens and an island with a unique Palace, the like of this park cannot be found anywhere else in Europe. You can visit the historic Baths, the Ermitaż, the Amphitheatre, the Egyptian Temple, the Temple of Diana, the Water Tower or the indoor garden called the New Orangery. In summer, during the open-air concerts, Łazienki is filled with Frederic Chopin’s music. There are peacocks strolling in the alleys, and in the evenings the romantic nooks are a perfect backdrop for a summer rendezvous.

No 1. Warsaw Old Town Square
Our Warsaw No.1 has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List for 34 years. One of its tenement houses was inhabited by the legendary basilisk, while the centre of the Square is occupied by the Warsaw Mermaid, the very same who graces the emblem of the capital. If you want to know her story, join one of the tours and listen to the guide.

The Square was constructed in 13th century, it was destroyed during World War II, and the tenements which were reconstructed are based on those from the beginnings of the 17th century. The square used to be the place where the most important events in town took place. There is the Sigismund’s Column is in the vicinity, as well as  St. John’s Cathedra, the Royal Castle, Kanonia, the city walls and the Barbican. It is the heart of historic Warsaw, and at the same time one of the most interesting places in the Polish capital.

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