This part of Warsaw was heavily damaged during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. It was rebuilt after the war and today, consists of cafes and restaurants. The colorful facades of the buildings nonetheless, are a magnet to locals and tourists alike. The east side is home to the Historical Museum, which is currently undergoing restoration work on the inside. Unfortunately, it was closed when I was there. It won't reopen until the Fall at the earliest but most likely not until 2014.
The Old Town Square Market is probably where you end up having something to eat or drink, we did. The surrounding is quite lively area with a pleasant ambience. There are indoor and outdoor cafes, restaurants, man dressing in funny clothes, galleries and artist displaying his art, street vendors selling souvenirs. Surrounded with beautiful and colorful merchant’s buildings the Old Town Square made me feel I was on holiday.
The Old Town is great to wonder around and get lost. It’s not all that big in area you can cover it in about an hour but why would you want to do that. There are lots of houses with interesting color charts, architecture design buildings to take photos, interesting street corner, narrow streets and alleys, outdoor and indoor restaurants, churches, historical monuments, people selling paintings, souvenirs to take home, money exchange, and atm. Remember once upon a time this area was completely destroyed, see it now how remarkable the rebuilt and restoration is. The Old Town has been rebuilt to its former glory and belong to UNESCO Lists of World Heritage Site. You have to make the Old Town a visit when you are in Warsaw.
My first visit to the Old town in Warsaw it could be call "spontaneous". I was with small group of adventurers who decided that soon after placement in a hostel and before organized tour, to explore the city independently. We don't have a map and just start to walking around.
We walking trough wide streets with huge new buildings that have a classic look and a lot of detail. Noting like the home, but still feeling very comfort and safe. Many people on the streets, but not crowded, with many interesting photo motive. So I been busy enough.
In one moment, in front of us are a big column and wide squire. Everywhere is festive atmosphere with many Polish flags. Trying to see as many we cant we wandered the street by impressive and colorful buildings to center of market squire and a statue of armed mermaid.
That is for me is be like to entering in another time. Even is full of tourist and shops.
It was very fun just enjoying the sites and listen the sounds that surround us. We watched the young choir rehearsal. Visit St. Anna church bell etc. After, the touristic guide told us about history, explain every detail about monument, buildings, local legends etc. Basically, everything that I wont.
Still, it is nice to just enjoy in walk and try to guess what is this and what this means etc.
The old town is fine but actually nothing special in my opinion. It was fine, it was ok, but basically endless shops and restaurants and annoying roller bladers and beggers and big tour groups. It was worth a few hours visit but thats all....
Now when I say get out on the streets of the town, I did not mean lay down in the street, but rather wander the streets with no set plan or according to a map, just let your feet take you where they will, follow your nose from bakery to bakery, or just follow that guy walking a dog...whatever takes your fancy. Often we have found that the main touristy streets are far different from the back alleys and they sometimes offer quiet and beautiful corners that you can enjoy with the locals.
UNESCO has declared the old city center of Warsaw a historic site. We found a bronze plaque imbedded in one of the cobbled streets in the old city but since the plaque was in Polish we could not determine just what the UNESCO site was. On this same street there is a building at the end of the street with a sundial, also the same cobbled street...so it could have been any one of those...quite confusing if you do not know Polish, and mine is very rusty.
The small open square in the old part of Warsaw is full of life, even on the cold, cloudy and blustury day we visited there with our friend Daria, it was full of stalls with people checking them out. There were not many peole sitting in outdoor cafes though ....
As in many of the city centers we have visited in Europe, here in Warsaw we found the buildings that make up the "walls" of the square to be individualistic, colorful, even "artistic" might describe them.
I've seen many of these tactile maps in my travels throughout Europe and think they are just wonderful! The three-dimensional maps give a visually impaired person a literal feel for the area or, in some cases, the building they are visiting. Additionally, these maps are good for children who cannot always visualize what they are seeing.
The problem I find is this: exactly how in the world is a visually impaired person expected to find the map? Rarely do I see these listed in the tourist information centers or in the guide books. So one of my personal missions for VT is to post their locations as I find them.
There is a tactile map of the Old Town in Warsaw. It can be found just outside the west side of the city walls at the crossroads of Kapitulna and Podwale. If you look at the photo, you will see a shiny dot in the lower half of the center of the picture - this is the map location - it's shiny because everyone touches the spot when they announce "Here's where we are!" To give you some perspective - the open square shaped building on the right is the Royal Castle.
The mermaid (syrenka) is the symbol of Warsaw. In the middle of the Old Town Square is a statue of the mermaid. During my morning walk through the Old Town, I enjoyed sitting in front of the statue. Every couple minutes water comes out from the base of the statue and creates a small pool in which the pigeons were happily bathing themselves in. They seemed to know that the water would move and appeared to wait until it filled up, then they would go into the water and flap their wings rapidly. It was fun to watch and I was not the only one enjoying it – even in the early morning, there were several people sitting on other benches enjoying the show.
I enjoyed my walk through the Old Town – it was early morning and the tour buses had not yet arrived. I started near the Royal Castle and Zygmunt's Column. It was peaceful and gave me time to just look at the buildings and statues around me. I meandered through the streets towards the market square in order to see the statue of the mermaid. Taking a break on the benches that circle the statue, I rested and enjoyed watching the pigeons bathe in the water. Couples here and there, a young girl taking photos of a teddy bear on the bench, and a group of school children were around me as cafes were getting ready to open for early lunch goers.
I continued on my walk around the Old Town, stopping in at the Church of St. John the Baptist and peeking in the windows of the shops. After having my fill, I exited out the opposite of the way I arrived, heading towards the wall and the Barbican gate.
Many years ago, the Old Town Square was considered the most important place in Warsaw with the most important and wealthy families living in the houses that surround the square. Most of these buildings date back to the 1600s and have been rebuilt since the war. The mermaid statue stands in the center of the square.
You have to walk through the old town, which is not very big , is all pedestrian and it is always crowded, but you can enjoy its churches, its market square with its colorful buildings, the houses of the merchants ...
At every turn you discover something new, a clock, a facade, a roof, a face ... and the Market Square is always busy with people around the mermaid fountain , street performers, horse-drawn carriages, cafés , artists
Hay que pasear por el casco antiguo , que no es muy grande y es todo peatonal pero siempre lleno de gente, pero puedes disfrutar de sus iglesias , su plaza del mercado con sus edificios multicolores , las casas de los comerciantes...
A cada paso descubres algo nuevo , un reloj , una fachada , un tejado , una cara... y la plaza siempre está animada con gente alrededor de la fuente de la sirena , artistas callejeros , coches de caballos , cafés , artistas
Located in front of Castle Square, it was erected in commemoration of moving the Royal Residence from Kraków to Warsaw. On top of the Corinthian Column, you will see a statue of King Zygmunt Vasa who was the head behind the idea of moving the capital closer to his Swedish homelands and also closer to the Tsarian throne of Moscow, which he was eyeing too. On one hand he holds a cross, symbolizing his close link to the church, on the other a sword to defend his country. A legend says that whenever Poland is in danger, his sword begins to rattle. The original column was erected in 1644 and was made of red marble. Later, it was refurbished and rebuilt several times and replaced by a column of granite. In 1944, it was destroyed by the Nazis and replaced after the war by an almost identical copy. It is said that this statue was the first secular statue in Europe to be placed on a column after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Warsaw was just a mid-sized town in Poland until it became the Royal Residence in 1596. The title of the capital was not achieved until the 19th century. That is the main reason why the market square is relatively small compared to those of Krakow or Wroclaw for example. Nevertheless, it became a pretty square until it was destroyed by the Nazis during the last years of the Second World War. The town hall was already pulled down in 1817 after a fire. The four sides of the square have the names of important 19th century political figures. These are Barss, Kollataj, Zakrzewski and Dekert. Buildings were reconstructed in the 16th and 17th century in renaissance style, very few of the original Gothic buildings remain, especially after the WWII destruction.
After the war it was completely reconstructed. The buildings became popular with the new Bohème of Warsaw from the 1980s on and attracted artists of all kinds. Note that some of the higher buildings have extensions looking like little houses placed on top of the building. Markets still take place regularly and you will find a lot of cafés as well as some museums on the square.
The area commonly referred to as the old town is the area formerly comprised within the city walls, north of the Royal Palace. Probably the most interesting fact is that the old town is completely reconstructed. It was destroyed during the bombings and fightings of WWII and rebuilt from zero in the late 1940s and 1950s. The excellent restoration skills were honoured in 1980 when Warsaw’s old town became one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The 14th century grid of streets and alleys was preserved and gives the old town its characteristic atmosphere. Three medieval churches, a market place and a town hall are to be found there too, all of them reconstructed in the same way. Restaurants, pubs and cafés are available as well as the odd souvenir shops. Even if it is probably the most touristy place in Warsaw, it is an essential part of every Warsaw visit.