Warsaw City Breaks

GENERAL

As the capital of Poland, Warsaw was one of the most beautiful and sophisticated cities in Central Europe until its almost total destruction during the Nazi occupation of World War II. The end of the war saw most of the city reduced to rubble and ruins, and the majority of the population had either been killed or interred in Nazi concentration camps.

The city underwent a major regeneration following the havoc of destruction, and the buildings in the heart of the old city were meticulously restored. Most of the historic Old Town was painstakingly rebuilt from a pile of debris, restoring it to its original 17th and 18th century appearance, with the charming old market square at its centre, now a major World Heritage Site attraction.

Warsaw is divided into two distinct halves by the Vistula River, with the Old Town, the modern city centre and most of the attractions on the western side. The eastern side of the river comprises of uninteresting residential suburbs and business districts. The post-war appearance of Warsaw is a modern urban landscape of high-rise buildings, and the years of communist rule have left an uninspiring architectural legacy of drab concrete structures and uniform prefab-style housing. Dominating the skyline is the city's eyesore, the massive shape of the Palace of Science and Culture, Stalin's bequest to its citizens.

Lying in determined contrast to the concrete greyness are traces of Poland's grand past, including castles and palaces, open parklands, impressive churches and the restored streets of the historic old centre. Signs of former political austerity have been replaced by modern progression, with dreary state shops turned into fashionable boutiques, and consumerism a growing trend.

Warsaw city breaks make Warsaw an appealing tourist destination, and is still Poland's largest city and the political, economic, scientific and cultural hub of the country. It has many museums and historical monuments, galleries and historic attractions, a variety of restaurants and open-air cafes, and an energetic nightlife. With green open spaces and classical music concerts, this modern bustling city is a far cry from the severe Communist-era images of post-war Warsaw.

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