Plac Zamkowy, Warsaw, Poland

 warsawcentre

Plac Zamkowy, Warsaw, Poland

If anyone ever tells you that Warsaw—or for that matter, any of Poland’s major cities aside from Lodz—is grey, dark, depressing, or ugly—tell them to try visiting it first, because they obviously haven’t. Warsaw was mostly destroyed by the Second World War (something like 85% of the city was razed and the population hovered around 1,000)—but it has made a full recovery, at least aesthetically. Rubble became carefully constructed buildings. Plans were carefully executed, mimicking the way it looked before the war. Sadly, this was only done for the Old and New Towns, which became a UNESCO site. “Warszawa 1935,” a wonderful film released in 2012, uses the powers of modern technology to generate a 3D film of what Warsaw once looked like (evidently, something like Paris, Vienna and St Petersburg combined). The Soviet Era was not kind to Warsaw, and the city still suffers those scars. But in the centre, these bright, beautiful buildings here—these are its legacy. Due to a combination of colours, patterns, design, and simple Polish resilience, this square has—and will always be—the most beautiful part of Poland’s often-overlooked capital.

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Plac Zamkowy, Warsaw, Poland

warsawsnow

Plac Zamkowy, Warsaw, Poland

The historic centre of Warsaw, while having a lot of history, is not actually all that old. In fact, it only dates back 50-60 years. After the second world war, in which roughly 85% of Warsaw was destroyed and most of its inhabitants either fled, hid, died, or were  arrested, the proud Polish citizens decided to rebuild their city from the rubble – using photographs, drawings, paintings, and even people’s memory, as most of the original blueprints were long lost. As the symbolic and historic (though not modern) centre of town, this square has been the sight of many important events, including patriotic manifestations before the January Uprising, usually entered around Sigismund’s Column in the middle. Due to its meticulous reconstruction, Plac Zamkowy, like the rest of the Stary Miasto (Old Town), is recognised by UNESCO. And this is Poland – so almost half the year, it’s covered in snow. And, it’s also my favourite place in Warsaw!