Warsaw is not the grey and poluted city that many people believe. It is currently a student town with many different areas and influences. Though there have been several earlier settlements where Warsaw stands today we reckon the foundation of the town to date back to around 1300 AD. The town was founded by the Duke of Mazowia,and it’s location close to the river and on main trade routes was attractive to merchants. Through the centuries Warsaw has been devastated by fires, Swedes, Germans and Russians, but each time it has been rebuilt, the last time after WWII where the Old Town was reduced to a rubble. Warsaw was reconstructed again after 1945, and it was decided to rebuild the Old Town in a style from the 17th and 18th century, partly based on old outlines and paintings. Recognizing the reconstruction of the historical churches, palaces and town houses as from 1980 the Old Town has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage list of important culture sites.
Even though the town resembles a museum it is inhabited by normal people, to whom the flats were provided as council housing. Most of them have lived there for ages and have bought the flats from the town for a fraction of their market value. The Old Town slopes down towards the Vistula river, but lies that high that it is never exposed to floods.
Warswaw: Old Town is fun
There is an abundance of bars and restaurants everywhere. Most of them focus on tourists and offer a streamlined selection of drinks, food and service. Prices are quite low though, especially if you compare them to other European city centres (half a litre of Polish draught beer will cost you less than 10 zloty). In general the place is rather empty during the winter, whereas it wakes up during the summer.
The entire Old Town is entirely surrounded by a double town wall, which is mainly a reconstruction. At some points you may see the original gothic walls, which have been marked by a black line to indicate where they start.
Rynek (the Town Hall Square) is the central point of any Polish town, and Warsaw is not an exception. This is where we find the Mermaid symbolizing the town. What is most unusual, you will not find the town hall here, as it was pulled down in 1817, when it was no longer capable of managing the city after an administrative reform in 1791.
Plac Zamkowy (the Palace Square) is also an essential part of the Old Town. This is where we find the re-constructed Royal Castle, beautiful town houses and a view over the Vistula River and the Stadium.
On the road from Plac Zamkowy till Rynek you will be passing the Cathedral, which is situated right beside another fascinating building, namely the Jesuit Church – the Holy Mother of Grace Church.