Restored Gothic, communist concrete, modern glass and steel, once you’ve travelled around Poland, you realise Warsaw is different
On the banks of the Vistula River, Poland’s pretty capital city, Warsaw, has a remarkable story of revival and reconstruction. With a medieval Old Town, modernist architecture and grand museums, there’s plenty to fill two days in this city.
Get your bearings at the Palace of Culture and Science, a towering high-rise constructed in the 1950s as a gift from the Soviet Union. At 231-metres, it is the tallest building in Poland. The terrace on the 30th floor affords grand, 360-degree view of Warsaw.
If you’re with kids or simply have an interest in science, head to the Copernicus Science Centre for an afternoon of discovery. The bright and colourful museum is filled with interactive exhibits that demonstrate experiments and explain scientific phenomena. Innovative light and sound displays will keep kids engaged for hours.
Celebrating the iconic composer in the country of his birth, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum is located in the grand Ostrogski Palace. With personal effects from Chopin’s life and modern multimedia exhibits that feature listening booths, films and music games, the museum is a high-tech tribute to the Polish composer.
Try a traditional Polish meal at one of the many restaurants in Nowy Swiat. Pierogi, a dumpling stuffed with meat, cabbage and potato; and zurek, a sour rye soup, are common local dishes.
During World War II and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the picturesque Old Town was systematically destroyed. Following a long reconstruction, the Old Town today is a charming warren of narrow cobbled stone lanes and medieval architecture. It’s easy to spend hours at this Unesco World Heritage site. Start at Castle Square, flanked by the onion-domed turrets of the Royal Castle, St Anne’s Church and candycoloured medieval buildings.
Wind your way past the Vistula River towards Market Square. Full of shops, cafes and renaissance-style, mural-adorned buildings the square is action packed. At the centre stands a statue of the Warsaw Mermaid – the symbol of the city.
The church of Holy Cross is a grand Baroquestyle structure with opulent gold décor and a magnificent organ. The main draw, though, is a pillar embedded with Chopin’s heart, which was brought back from France after his death.
End your visit
Wind down at Praga – an up-and-coming precinct where abandoned warehouses are gradually being converted to hip restaurants, artist studios and galleries. Dine at the very stylish Warszawa Wschodnia, housed in a former factory.
Written by: Malavika Bhattacharya