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A Phoenix from the Ashes.

Wonderful Warsaw.


A Warsaw rose.

This was our second visit to Warsaw. We visited many years ago when we were working in Poland and living in the small town of Lebork, near Gdansk. Our first visit was just a day visit which took place in the heart of winter and we were with a teaching colleague who just wanted to eat constantly, so we did not see much on that visit. This visit was much better.

We flew from Birmingham Airport on a Ryan Air flight to Modlin Airport which is located forty kilometres north of Warsaw. This is not Warsaw's main airport and we had to travel into the city via a bus to Modlin train station then a train to Warszawa Gdańska Station. The people opposite us on the train had two beautiful pet dogs on their knees and one kept licking me. It was so cute.

At Warszawa Gdańska Station we set off to find our hotel the Ibis Warszawa Stare Miasto - which means Warsaw old town. This location was handy for sightseeing in the old town, new town and Jewish area. The hotel was very nice and unlike most Ibises provided free bottled drinking water and a mobile phone with a sightseeing app, though we did not use it.

Our hotel room.

We wanted to maximise our daylight time, so quickly went out after check in and headed towards the old town. Just outside the hotel there is a monument called the Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East. It looks like a railway carriage filled with crosses and some stars of David. This monument is dedicated to the people killed during the Soviet invasion of Poland and in subsequent Soviet clamp downs on the Polish people. It was designed by Maksymilian Biskupski and was unveiled in 1995. It is located in front of the Ibis Warszawa Stare Miasto Hotel at the intersection of Muranowska and General Władysław Anders streets.

Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East.

Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East.

After looking at the monument, we continued on to the Krasiński Palace which now houses the National Library. This palace was built for the Krasiński family in the seventeenth century. Sadly, it was destroyed in 1944 during World War II. Reconstruction began in 1948. There is a park behind the palace, but we did not visit it this time. There are some interesting winged horse sculptures in front of this building. These were created in 2008 by Beata Konarska and Pawel Konarski who belong to the Warsaw design studio Konarska-Nokarski. They are quite fun and colourful.

Winged horses outside the Krasiński Palace.

Winged horses outside the Krasiński Palace.

On the other side of the road stands the Supreme Court of Poland. One of the most famous monuments in Warsaw can be found in front of the court on Krasiński Square. This is the Warsaw Uprising Monument, which was created by Wincenty Kućma and Jacek Budyn and unveiled in 1989. It is dedicated to the memory of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

The Warsaw Uprising occurred between August and October 1944. It was an attempt by the Polish resistance movement to drive the occupying Nazis out of their city. The Russian army under Stalin were nearing Warsaw when the uprising began. Instead of helping the Polish people, they stood back and let the Germans kill them, so that when they tried to seize the city themselves, they would meet with little Polish resistance. The Nazis were so angered with the Polish people for opposing them that, once they had quelled the uprising, they expelled the remaining population and destroyed almost ninety percent of Warsaw's buildings. The Russians then stepped in and took over after the German army left. The Soviets opposed the building of this monument wishing to whitewash over their part in the failure of the uprising. The monument is huge and very striking. It shows armed Polish resistance fighters launching a surprise attack on their enemy. Some are emerging from the sewers which they used to cross the Nazi occupied city. The structure behind the figures represents a falling building.

The Supreme Court of Poland.

The Warsaw Uprising Monument.

The Warsaw Uprising Monument.

The Warsaw Uprising Monument.

The Warsaw Uprising Monument.

The Warsaw Uprising Monument.

As I said above almost ninety percent of Warsaw was destroyed in the Second World War, but so much of it has been rebuilt and restored. Warsaw has risen like a phoenix from the burnt out ashes of its tortured past. Warsaw's old and new towns stand as a symbol of never giving up or accepting defeat. The restoration here is amazing. We next walked to the rebuilt walls of the old town and stopped to look at the Monument of the Little Insurgent. This shows a child in a helmet way too big for him, holding a large gun. It commemorates all the young people who helped during the Warsaw Uprising either as fighters or runners. The sculpture is based on a statuette created by Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz and was unveiled in 1983. Behind the statue an inscription reads "Children of Warsaw, let us go into battle, for every stone we shall give our blood.”

The Monument of the Little Insurgent.

The Monument of the Little Insurgent.

We then walked along the outside of the old town walls and came to the statue of Warsaw shoemaker Jan Kilinski, a hero who fought against the Russians during the Uprising in 1794.

Warsaw's city walls.

Jan Kilinski Statue.

Jan Kilinski Statue.

We continued walking along the outside of the old town walls till we reached the Royal Castle which is located in Castle Square. The original castle dates from the fourteenth century. It was later expanded in the sixteenth century after King Sigismund III made Warsaw capital of Poland in 1596. The castle was completely destroyed in 1944 during the Second World War. Rebuilding began in 1971 and the castle re-opened in 1984. We wandered around the courtyard but did not go inside the building. Castle Square is busy and colourful, surrounded by lots of old buildings. In the centre of the square stands a 22m high column with a statue of King Sigismund III on top of it. Sigismund's statue was toppled in World War II and re-erected in 1949.

The Royal Castle.

The Royal Castle.

Castle Square.

Is that a princess?

Castle Square with Sigismund's Column.

King Sigismund III.

We then wandered into the heart of the old town - Market Square. This colourful square is surrounded by beautiful buildings and filled with stalls selling paintings and souvenirs. In the centre of it there is a bronze statue of Syrenka - a warrior mermaid. This was made by Konstanty Hegel in 1855. Syrenka is the city’s protector.

Market Square.

Market Square.

Market Square.

Market Square.

Market Square.

Past the Market Square one of the prettiest areas of the old town is around the Barbican gateway and the city walls there. The Barbican was built in 1540 to help defend the city.

Walls and Barbican.

Old town walls, Warsaw.

Old town walls.

Old town walls.

In addition to these sights the old town of Warsaw also has some beautiful churches. We visited St. John's Archcathedral which is a Roman Catholic church. It is located next to Warsaw's Jesuit church. Behind the cathedral in Canon Square there is an old church bell, dating from 1646. It is known as the wishing bell. Walking around it is said to bring good luck.

Jesuit Church and St John's Archcathedral.

Jesuit Church.

Door of Jesuit Church.

Inside the Jesuit Church.

Inside St John's Archcathedral.

The wishing bell behind the cathedral.

Not far from the wishing bell there is a viewing area with lovely views over the Vistula River.The strong man statue is located here. This was created by Stanislaw Czarnowski and depicts a man hurling a boulder.

Strong man statue.

The River Vistula.

After this we were getting tired and hungry, we set off in the direction of home, stopping at a little restaurant near our hotel where I had pierogi, Polish dumplings, and my husband had bigos, a pork and cabbage stew, all washed down with wonderful Polish beer. We had draft Żywiec which was lovely. When we lived in Poland more than twenty years ago it was not easy to find draft beer. Now it is plentiful.

Enjoying the Polish beer.



Posted by irenevt 04:36 Archived in Poland Tagged food architecture beer monuments poland

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I watched a TV documentary about Warsaw in WW2, apparently all the colourful buildings only date from around 1945 because the originals were raised to the ground by retreating Germans, especially the Jewish Ghetto.

As I flicked though your pictures I was about to remark on hubby's presence without his customary glass of beer, but almost towards the end of the blog he appeared with his glass of the amber nectar, and saved the day!

by Bennytheball

I hope you both walked around the bell. ;)

by Beausoleil

Hi Benny, the Polish people did an amazing job in rebuilding and restoring their city. They also do amazingly good beer. I would say it is up there along with Czech beer as some of the best in Europe.

by irenevt

Hi Sally, Unfortunately we did not walk round the bell. I only read about that custom after our return. Good excuse to go back though.

by irenevt

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