Experiencing Eastern Europe: Warsaw, Poland

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Get a feel of Eastern Europe, by visiting the famous capital of Poland, Warsaw. It is largely different from the other cites, not being restrictive to the an old market square, it has a lot more to offer.

Being one of the cities that has survived the tumultuous past of the World War, it possesses diverse architecture comprising of restored Gothic, communist concrete, modern glass and steel.It’s a fascinating collection of neighbourhoods and landmarks. Excellent museums interpret its complex story, from the joys of Chopin’s music to the tragedy of the Jewish ghetto.
It’s not all about the past, however. Warsaw’s restaurant and entertainment scene is the best in Poland. You can dine well and affordably here on cuisines from around the world, and take your choice of lively bars and clubs. This gritty city knows how to have fun.
Some of the top things to visit in Poland are:
  1. Palace of Culture and Science: Love it or hate it, every visitor to Warsaw should visit the iconic, socialist realist PKiN (as its full Polish name is abbreviated). This ‘gift of friendship’ from the Soviet Union was built in the early 1950s, and at 231m high remains the tallest building in Poland. It’s home to a huge congress hall, theatres, a multiscreen cinema and museums. Take the high-speed lift to the 30th-floor (115m) observation terrace to take it all in.
  2. Warsaw Rising Museum: One of Warsaw’s best, this museum traces the history of the city’s heroic but doomed uprising against the German occupation in 1944 via three levels of interactive displays, photographs, film archives and personal accounts. The volume of material is overwhelming, but the museum does an excellent job of instilling in visitors a sense of the desperation residents felt in deciding to oppose the occupation by force, and of illustrating the dark consequences, including the Nazis’ destruction of the city in the aftermath
  3. Neon Museum: Situated within the cool Soho Factory complex of old industrial buildings housing designers and artists, this museum is devoted to the preservation of the iconic neon signs of the communist era. The collection is arrayed within a historic factory, with many large pieces fully lit. Other exhibits are dotted around the complex and are illuminated after dark. It’s well worth the trek across the river. Alight the tram at the Bliska stop.
  4. Lazienki Park: Pronounced wah-zhen -kee, this park is a beautiful place of manicured greens and wild patches.
  5. Royal Castle: This massive brick edifice, a copy of the original blown up by the Germans in WWII, began life as a wooden stronghold of the dukes of Mazovia in the 14th century. Its heyday came in the mid-17th century, when it became one of Europe’s most splendid royal residences. It then served the Russian tsars and, in 1918, after Poland regained independence, became the residence of the president. Today it is filled with period furniture and works of art.
  6. Old Town Square: At the centre of the partially walled Old Town (Stare Miasto), the Old Town Square is, for those with an eye for historic buildings, the loveliest square in Warsaw. It’s lined with tall houses exhibiting a fine blend of Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic and neoclassical elements; aside from the facades at Nos 34 and 36, all were reconstructed after destruction in WWII.
  7. Wilanow Palace: Warsaw’s top palace is Wilanów (vee-lah -noof), 6km south of Łazienki. It dates to 1677, when King Jan III Sobieski bought the land and turned an existing manor house into an Italian Baroque villa fit for a royal summer residence (calling it in Italian ‘villa nuova’, from which the Polish name is derived). Wilanów changed hands several times over the centuries, and with every new owner it acquired a bit of Baroque here and a touch of neoclassical there. Surprisingly, it remained majorly unscathed by the effects of the war.
The ideal place to stay is Hotel Bristol. A Luxury Collection Hotel, Warsaw, founded by Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the famous pianist and politician, is one of Warsaw’s most remarkable landmarks blending history and contemporary luxury. It is on the historic Royal Route, next to the Presidential Palace and a short walk from the Old Town, the Royal Castle, and Polish National Opera.
It boasts of a majestic neo-renaissance façade and romantic interiors characterized by Art Deco elegance.
This capital is the perfect culmination of art deco and modernism. Visit it and discover the hidden treasures of Eastern Europe.

 

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