10 travel tips for Warsaw

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Palace of Culture and Science

Warsaw's modern skyline has grown around the Palace of Culture and Science, which was constructed in 1955. At 230 meters (757 ft.) it is still Poland's tallest building. A relic of the Stalin era it is a symbol of Soviet oppression but also an iconic Warsaw landmark. From the 30th floor viewing platform the Palace of Culture and Science offers the best views across the city.

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Artful facades

The Pod Murzynkiem house is located in the historical center. The traditional sign above the door depicts a black prince - hence the building being called "The Negro" - which might indicate that the original merchant owners traded abroad. Many of the 17th century buildings on the historical market place (Rynek Starego Miasta) were reconstructed after the Second World War.

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Castle Square - Plac Zamkowy

Close to the market place is a historic square with the 22 meter high Sigismund's column - a bronze statue depicting King Sigismund III dating from 1644- and the Royal Palace, which was reconstructed after 1945. They are both symbolic for Warsaw's rise in the 16th century to become the Polish capital. In 1980 the old town center of Warsaw was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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Market Hall

What over 100 years ago was a market hall, making it the first in the country, has today been transformed into a hipster food location with restaurants, bars and shops. The locals in Warsaw waited more than ten years for the place to eventually be reopened in 2016. Now visitors flock to the "Hala Koszyki", which is open from 8:00 am until midnight.

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POLIN - Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Until 1939 Warsaw had Europe's biggest Jewish community. Located on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, which with 400,000 people imprisoned was the largest Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Europe. An uprising against deportation, led by Mordechai Anielewicz, was brutally quashed in May 1943 by the Nazis who also blew up the Grand Synagogue. In 2016 the museum won the European Museum of the Year Award.

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University Library

Representative for Warsaw as a university town are the new buildings housing the Copernicus Science Center (Centrum Nauki Kopernik) and the university library. Apart from the over three million books it also offers a large park and a roof garden which is open to the public - though it is not completely barrier-free. Here students picnic, meet for dates and go for walks.

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Homage to David Bowie

In the district of Żoliborz the Polish artist Dawid Celek created a wall painting as a tribute to the British musician who died in 2016. In the 1970s Bowie briefly visited the city and was inspired to write the song "Warszawa". In the Marii-Kazimiery-road Bowie, in his classic Ziggy Stardust look, gazes out from behind the Palace of Culture and Science to his admirers.

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Fryderyk Chopin Museum

Everything relating to the life and works of the Polish-French composer and pianist (1810 - 1849) can be experienced here in multi-media displays. The museum also has a famous Pleyel piano, on which Chopin liked to play. At the age of eight Frédéric Chopin gave his first public performance at Warsaw's Radziwill-Palais. At his memorial in the Łazienki Park there are free concerts on Sundays.

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Looking back in time

Before World War II, Warsaw was regarded as one of Europe's most beautiful cities. German bombs destroyed the historical cityscape. On the internet, you can take a virtual stroll through the past, where forgotten buildings are reconstructed from old city plans and photos. Virtual tours of this vanished city are also on offer at Warsaw's miniature park Województwa Mazowieckiego.

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Warsaw National Stadium

In 2012 the newly constructed National Stadium (Stadion Narodowy) lit up like a crown on the banks of the Vistula River for the UEFA European Soccer Championships. It seats some 60,000 viewers. The Poniatowski Bridge connects the urban left bank with the right bank - known for its natural beaches - and the district of Praga, which is turning into a vibrant area, popular with artists and tourists.

The Polish capital is a place of contrasts. Through the ages kings, conquerors and dictators have all left their mark on Warsaw, but so too have freedom fighters and artists.

         

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