About city: Warsaw

Warsaw became the capital of Polish State only in 1596. Until that time Krakow was the capi-tal, with the residence of Polish kings located at the Wawel Castle. Since 16th century there has been formed a beautiful Old Town in Warsaw where were the buildings constructed in the style of Gothic, baroque and Renaissance.

During the World War II Warsaw, similar to Berlin, was significantly ruined. In the course of suppressing Warsaw Rebellion in August 1944 the German demolished almost every building in the Old Town, and only few buildings were left intact in the other districts of the city.

However, despite serious damages, in the period of 1949-1963 the historical center of War-saw was restored to all its original grandeur, actually out of a pile of broken brick and stones. UNESCO marked it as the case of exact restoration of the historical appearance of a city. And today Warsaw is as beautiful and elegant as centuries ago.

You'd better start any tour of Warsaw from the Castle Square. The Royal Palace is the main building in the square. It was the basic residence of Polish kings after they moved from Krakow. Sigismund's Column is in the middle of the square. It was erected by the orders of king Wladis-law IV in 1644 to honour his father Sigismund III Waza. Opposite the Royal Palace, the square is faced by beautiful facades of restored medieval buildings.

Castle Square is closely approached by the walls of Barbican. Barbican is a circular fort with strong defensive walls. It was constructed in 1598 to defend the Florian's Gate from Turks. This was then the main entrance of the Old Town. Originally, the walls of Barbican reached the height of 25 meters. Near the main gate, where once was a moat, there is a relatively wide square. Today knight tournaments are held there. You must go down to the river. There are many beautiful buildings at the foot of the walls.

Old Market Square is in the center of the Old Town that was defended by Barbican. It is a very beautiful place of Warsaw. The Square is surrounded by old buildings. The walls of many buildings are painted with pictures of different topics. There are many restaurants on this Square where artists exhibit their pictures and organ-grinders amuse the public with merry tunes. In other words, it is really one of the most attractive places with medieval atmosphere in the city. Mermaid Fountain is in the middle of the Square. The mermaid is the symbol of Warsaw.

If you go from the Barbican along the Vistula River, you can feel the enchantment of old al-leys of Warsaw. It is very quiet there, with almost no traffic. Facades of many buildings are cov-ered with various pictures. They make the buildings of Warsaw very beautiful. There also located several nice kostels (Roman Catholic Church) in this district.

The so-called King's Road goes from the Castle Square southwards. It was the road that led to Lazienki Palace, out-of-town residence of Polish kings. If you want to, you may go this way on foot, even though it is fairly far. The palace and park of Lazienki is very beautiful. The summer palace Belweder is also impressive, and by the way, today it is the residence of the President of Poland. You should visit Lazienki Palace, as well as the Castle Square and the Old Market Square.

As to out-of-town excursions, you may visit the old capital of Poland – the wonderful city of Krakow. Krakow is at least as beautiful as Warsaw, and historically it is even more important. If you go north of Warsaw, you will see an interesting old city of Gdansk, as well as grandiose Ma-rienburg Castle (in the city of Malbork). 

At the border with Kaliningrad Region there located an interesting township of Kętrzyn. There you can visit the Wolfsschanze or Wolf's Lair, the notorious military headquarters of Adolf Hitler, from where he commanded the troops of Eastern front line, and where he was nearly murdered.

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