Buildings, streets..., Warsaw
This kiosk with newspapers adjacent to Church of the Holy Spirit (Paulite Church) in the New City is the smallest house in Warsaw. Local law says that only seperate houses have own numbers and this tiny structure has its own number: ul. Dluga 1 (1 Long Street).
Let me add the other, more cosmopolitan, Warsaw curiosities:
1. There are twenty towns in the USA and one in Jamaica called Warsaw (in VT base). Have you ever visited any?
2. The English punk rock band Joy Division was previously named "Warsaw." Their first record (1977) was titled The Warsaw Demo.
3. One of David Bowie's songs released in the album Low is called Warszawa. Have you ever heard it?
4. There is a Danish heavy metal band called Red Warszawa.
Tatars live in Poland as well since the 14th century. Nowadays they are assimilated in language and music.
It is to be found on the way to Wilanow (and castle of the same name), village in which Tatars live until today.
About 85 % of Warsaw was destroyed during World War II. Even nowadays there are still some buildings in decay or just bullet-scarred walls from this time in the city.
Many can be found in the Praga district. I walked along ul. Okrzei which was quite impressive.
But be careful, these areas are said to be not safe at night.
I used to start university lectures with this image... when I was discussing the botanical revolution of the sixteenth century. I would use the palm to demonstrate the pace of spread of genetically modified plants. Actually, my friend Sylwester, doing a doctorate in Oklahoma University at Norman, pointed out how this palm was not GM, but made of carboard! Any independent confirmation from VT surfers would be appreciated.
The former Gestapo HQ in Warsaw can be found on Al. Szucha 25. The building dates from about 1927 and it's original purpose was a religious centre. It was taking over be the Gestapo in 1939 and became the most feared place in Warsaw. The Gestapo used it as an interrogation centre. The building to day is currently the Ministry of Education and went untouched by the war. The building has a small museum which is free. The remains of a faded portrait of Adolf Hitler on the wall can still be seen.
Take Bus 100 and get off at the next stop after Metro Politechnika.
Wednesday 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.,
Thursday and Saturday 9.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.,
Friday 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.,
Sunday 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.
On Mondays and Tuesdays the museum is closed.
Free entrance (youth visiting has to be 14 years old).
Whenever you go to visit the Uprising Museum (absolutely a must!) I am sure you will pay attention to the two buildings a bit futher down Przyokopowa Street, the best seen from a terrace of the museum Insurgent Cafe. One of them is new, modern and made of glass and is adjacent to the ugly old one which is complecty neglected with broken windows and look like the World War II finished yesterday.
My taxi driver told me that the old building is left untouched because of problems with asbestos used in the building. Asbestos panels were used in construction till 1980' in Poland although it was proven for years that asbestos fibres when inhaled (in fact during longer time and in larger quantities) may cause serious diseases like asbestosis and lung cancer.
The buiding for many symbolize numerous Warsaw scandals. It may be dangerous for those living longer inside which means that someone must watch or check it at night some homeless not to accommodate there. And the building looks awfull but no decisions are made due to typically very long lasting conflict on who should pay compensation for the private owner and for demolishing the building ? The city, the state (the company which once built it was state-owned)? And how much? Such complicated cases last long years (5, 10 or more) in Warsaw. Does it take so long in your country?
Members of Polish parliament (in US I'd say Representatives and Senators) may live in this building in my picture. It's a parliamentary hotel for them put in Wiejska St. (map here) by other parliamentary buildings. Well, the building was renovated and rebuilt in 1990' but as I know the rooms are rather small and modest.
You may not go there without a pass issued by "Biuro Przepustek Strazy Marszalkowskiej" (the Pass Desk of the Marshal's Guard). I would ask my representative but... due to strange election system I have no single deputy. People from my area choose 13 deputies for Sejm and 3 for Senate and those choosen are always from various parties. Which one is mine???
The Presidential Palace close to the Old Town is Polish White House. But the Presidential Chancellory is located quite far from the president's house just by the parliament buildings (ul. Piekna 10, corner Frascati - map here). The building is closed to the public and not that interesting. And the guys from the security looked very seriously at me taking pictures.
I was told that the chancellory employees more people than the US White House. Looking at size of that huge building I think that it's possible. Well, I couldn't approach the White House to see how large it was.
The chancellory is the organ of assistance to the President of the Republic. Poland is not presidential but parliamentary republic. The executive authority is shared between President of the Republic of Poland (elected for 5 years) and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Poland (formed by the Prime Minister chosen by the president and approved by parliament). More power belongs to the Council than to president who has more power only in military and foreign affairs and in various crisis situations.
This semi-round building (ul. Wiejska - map here) with Polish national flag flying on the top houses the amphitheatre hall where sessions of the Sejm of Poland take place. The Sejm (the Seym) is the lower house (460 seats) of the Polish parliament chosen every 4 years. The upper house (100 seats) is called Senat (Senate). More power belongs to the Sejm. There are office buildings of the Sejm and Senate along Wiejska Street. Suprisingly the whole area is not fenced but a bit hidden behind trees. Keep off the grass, there some electronic devices there and... the Big Brother is watching.
The building, one of the landmarks of Poland, was completed in 1928, damaged during WWII and rebuilt after the war together with a complex of adjacent buildings in socialist realism style. Pay attention to frescoes around the rotunda building which symbolise various virtues.
After WWII the Sejm was choosen in false elections by June, 4, 1989 when communists were totally defeated. I remember words of the TV speaker and Polish actress Szczepkowska who in the main news (in TV still ruled by the totalitarian regime) proudly announced: "Ladies and Gentelmen, on June 4, 1989 the communism in Poland has ended" and... she was released. Well, I didn't want to visit these buildings that time. If you want to visit the Sejm as an individual visitor, call the number below and ask for the details. Or go personally to "Biuro Przepustek Strazy Marszalkowskiej" (the Pass Desk of the Marshal's Guard) in the morning at the day of the session and make an application for a visit to the gallery which is open to the public during the sessions but, warning: only up to 44 people may be let in.
Well, people are interested how much those deputies earn. In Poland they earn now (2006) about 3,350 euros and don't pay taxes which makes their income over 6 times higher than average salary of those who have a job and pay taxes. Good proportions? :-)
Going Wiejska St. from the Three Crosses Square towards Polish parliament buildings I entered the random gate of a brick residential house to see its yard, typical for those old looking houses. I've seen a very neglected rectangular, a bit dark yard with balconies hanging in corners.
It was not a slum though. This house was badly damaged during the World War II and rebuilt after the war but in new communist country it had to belong to the state that meant in fact to no-one. In other words no-one took care about the building which, like most in Warsaw, was very fast rebuilt but with no care of any quality. The result you can see on my pictures.
Stroll around tiny, closed for traffic, streets of compact Warsaw Old Town to discover some mysterious, a bit neglected passages, gates and yards. This red brick passage in my picture is located in 5/9 Brzozowa Street. From the Old Town Market Square take Celna Street down, turn left to Brzozowa and the passage is just on your right hand (map here). Go through through the passage, you will be surprised :-).
Walking off the beaten path Warsaw streets I found quite numerous graffiti, suprisingly mostly pretty and saying something... The inscription in my picture says "Masters do not make mistakes but present different arguments." The grafitti was signed the Third Wave (check my local custom tip).
From a foreign visitor's point of view the art of the street, although being a part of authentic local culture, maybe difficult to understand because of common use of local language and lack of knowledge of local up-to-date events or culture. Being abroad I usually take pictures of those more interesting or common wall pieces of arts and sometimes after coming back home I ask someone (a local) on VT what they mean.
Well, in Warsaw there was one quite common abbrevation "CHWDP" written on walls of Warsaw buildings, in my hometown as well :-(. Hmm... I can't translate it to you here because of the two very bad Polish words but let me say it's extremely (and certainly unjusty) offensive to Polish police and usually written by football hooligans fighting from time to time against police.
A tip is to do like we did. Buy tickets to the local transporation, get on the tram (#1) to the final station and then take a bus in any direction. We didn't know there to go. The trip was pleasant and we did see a lot of local areas. Shopping mals, restaurants etc.
At the end of WWII the Germans had thoughts of blowing up the Palace on the Water and the other buildings in the park. Gratefully, they only set many of the buildings on fire, leaving much damage in their wake, due to their hurried departure from the city.
As one enters the front entrance of the Palace you can easily see the patches covering the myriads of holes that were drilled by the German military to be filled with dynamite charges to destroy the building.
Thankfully, that plan was never executed. The building was set on fire and burned but parts of it survived.
How do you like it ?
Wola is one of the less touristy districts of Warsaw.
Traditionally it's been an industrial area, during WW2, Germans have established Jewish ghetto here
as well as "concentration camp Warsaw". After the war it continued to be an industrial district. Today, with most of the industry closed, it's partly residential and partly business/banking district. Still, it seems to develop slightly slower than other parts of Warsaw.
It's not far from the centre, so maybe worth a quick visit. Especially if you're interested in historic industry sites.