During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, more than 85% of Warsaw’s historic centre was destroyed by Nazi troops. After the war, a five-year reconstruction campaign by its citizens resulted in today’s meticulous restoration of the Old Town, with its churches, palaces and market-place. It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.
Warsaw Old Town was established in the 13th century. The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Square: until the end of the 18th century the square was the most important place in Warsaw; regular fairs and festivities were held here. During the Second World War the square was turned into rubble, but after many years of reconstruction it was restored to its original beauty. Surrounding streets feature old architecture such as the City Walls and the Barbican. The Cathedral of St John, completed in the 15th century, was originally a parish church and only became a cathedral in 1798. During the war it was destroyed but it has been restored to its original Gothic style. The interior of the cathedral features many works of religious art, tombs and various sculptures and paintings.
The Royal Castle is a magnificent example of the Baroque style, built in the 14th century. In 1569 King Zygmunt III Waza moved his residence there when Warsaw became the capital of Poland. Between 1598 and 1619 the king had the castle restyled as a polygon by Italian architects. In the 18th century King Augustus III converted the east wing into Baroque style, while King Stanislaw Poniatowski added sessions of the Royal Library. The Royal Castle served as both a residence for the kings as well as hosting sessions of the Sejm. It is now a museum displaying furniture, famous paintings and other great works of art. The fascinating interiors of the castle contain many original furnishings, statues, paintings and other objets d’art. Among the paintings are works by Bernardo Bellotto and Marcello Bacciarelli.
Since 1980 it is a Unesco site.
Thanks to Maggie for the postcards.