Warsaw is Poland’s largest city and the country’s capital. It has a number of sights to entertain the tourist. If I had to make a choice and could only visit either Krakow or Warsaw, I would pick Krakow. However Warsaw is still quite interesting and we found it easy to spend a couple days wandering the sights prior to our departure from Poland. For a map of places we visited in Poland, click here.
This post will focus on some of the general tourist highlights and my follow-up post will focus on several key World War II sights in Warsaw.
Warsaw is a big city, but it has an extensive tram and bus system, which are pretty easy to navigate. Any of the hotels will have a good map with the primary tourist destinations highlighted. You can find about any kind of food in Warsaw.
In addition to traditional Polish fare, we found an excellent Indian restaurant on the Royal Way.
There are a number of palaces in Warsaw and the two below are just a sample.
This is a very impressive 17th century palace, a tiny bit reminiscent of Versailles, but on a much smaller scale. It was a summer residence of the Polish king.
The best and most impressive views are on the eastern side, which leads down to a lake. Be sure to visit the manicured gardens.
Palace on the Water
Located in the expansive Łazienki Park, this late 17th century palace was also a summer residence of the Polish king, Stanisław August. It is built on a narrow lake.
It was undergoing some restoration work during our visit, but is still very impressive.
The Park itself is definitely worth wandering for its the impressive gardens and fountains, and they\Park has Chopin concerts in the summer.
Warsaw has a historic center, but unfortunately the original Old Town was flattened by the Germans in World War II in retribution for the Polish uprising (more on that in my next post).
The Old Town has been restored over the past 50 years, although I found the restoration a little less impressive than Gdansk. I think my impression was affected by the construction work going on in one of the main squares during our visit that made the area a bit less atmospheric.
Visitants’ Church (Visitation Sisters’ Church of St. Joseph)
The world renowned Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin (1810 – 1849) is a local hero. This church, right on the Royal Way that leads to Old Town is significant since Chopin played the organ here. The Visitants’ Church was constructed in the mid 1700’s and survived the bombings of World War II.
There is also a Chopin Museum nearby, but we did not make it to the museum. Also along the Royal Way are some other interesting churches.