Warsaw, Poland

May 26 – 28, 2014

We arrived in Warsaw by train. The train station was conveniently located across the street from our hotel. We actually tried to get in a taxi and the driver pointed to the hotel. I was impressed with his honesty. He could have taken us for a “ride”.

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Click on image to start slideshow.

The next morning we hired a private guide and explored the city. Warsaw is a beautiful city with absolutely magnificent parks. We visited Warsaw’s Old Town Market, the center and oldest part of Old Town, Castle Square, Warsaw Barbicon, The Jewish Ghetto and Cemetary, Lazienki – Royal Residence Park. We also visited  the Monument to the Warsaw Uprising Fighters, located in front of the Supreme Court of Poland.

“During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, more than 85% of Warsaw’s historic center 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.” Source UNESCO

When you enter Old Town, you pass through the Castle Square, the historic square in front of the Royal Castle, the former official residence of Polish monarchs. It is probably one of Warsaw’s most popular meeting places for both tourists and locals. We also saw Warsaw’s oldest secular memorial, Sigismund’s Column, a 17th century column celebrating King Sigismund III. The square is lined with colorful buildings that contains many cafes, restaurants and shops.

The Barbican was built in 1548, and is directly situated where the Old Town merges into in the New Town. It served to protect the entrance to Old Town and is integrated directly into the Warsaw City Wall that surrounds the Old Town.

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The Warsaw Uprising Monument, in front of the Supreme Court of Poland, is situated in Krasinski Square.

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Warsaw Ghetto and The Jewish Cemetery. The Jewish Cemetary at Okopowa Street in Warsaw was founded in 1806 and occupies over 33 hectares (82 acres) of land. The cemetery houses 250,000 graves. Approximately 150,000 graves were preserved until today, the oldest one dating back to the year 1809. The cemetery is divided into an area for women and a separate one for men. Moreover, there is an area where the Orthodox are buried and an area for the Reformed.

The Umschlagplatz Monument is to commemorate the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. The actual spot is where the Jews had to assemble to board the trains. In July 1942 the Jews were taken to concentration camp at Trblinka and later Auschwitz. The monument resembles railroad freight car. Inside, there are a number of first names of some of the victims. The artist chose four hundred first names, typical of Warsaw Ghetto Jews and engraved on the walls – to allow the viewer a glimpse of the individuality of the dead, and to associate with them.

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews is a museum on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto.

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Click on image to start slideshow.

The Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw consists of a palace and garden complex. The Palace on the Water  was built for Poland’s last monarch King Stanisław August Poniatowski and served as his summer residence. The central attraction of the park is the lake, but perhaps the most well-known and beloved corner of the park is the Chopin garden, with its towering bronze Chopin statue depicting the composer seated under a willow tree. The willow’s branches stretch over his head like the fingers of a pianist over piano keys. We sat on one of fifteen musical benches that have been placed at key sites connected with his life. Made of cast iron and polished black stone these benches feature a button which when pressed have been designed to unleash a thirty second torrent of Chopin.  For fifty years now, free Chopin concerts have been held in the park every weekend during the summer months, one of Warsaw’s most popular cultural attractions.

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