The Old Town, completely destroyed by the Germans in 1944, was
rebuilt after the war and entered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Royal
Castle and Zygmunt’s Column (1644). The royal park and garden complex,
Łazienki, which dates back to the eighteenth century. Wilanów Palace,
main thoroughfares with historic seventeenth- nineteenth century
architecture (Krakowskie Przedmieście, Nowy Świat. There are also a
number of historic churches, including the Gothic cathedral of St. John
(16th c.), Holy Cross, St. Anne’s, the Franciscan church, St. Martin’s
on ul. Piwna and many others. Also worth seeing are various palaces,
election field of the Polish kings, historic cemeteries (Powązki, Jewish
cemetery at ul. Okopowa, Orthodox cemetery in the Wola district),
monuments (Warsaw Uprising, Ghetto Uprising), museums (National Museum,
Zachęta, Museum of the Warsaw Uprising, Museum of Contemporary Art at
Ujazdowski Castle), the nineteenth century Citadel, National Library,
Warsaw University and Warsaw Polytechnic. The oldest functioning complex
of water filters, botanical garden, parks and squares.
There are also historic sanatoria (spas), suburban areas and holiday
retreats (Falenica, Otwock, Konstancin, Podkowa Leśna). Nearby are
Kampinoski Park Narodowy, Fryderyk Chopin’s birthplace at Żelazowa Wola,
Lake Zegrzyń, numerous forests and large parks.
Before the war, one in three of Warsaw’s residents was Jewish.
Very little of prewar Jewish Warsaw has survived, as is the case with
the city as a whole – approximately 25%. Most of the Jews were sent to
the east, from Umschlagplatz to Treblinka. The ghetto was completely
destroyed during the crushing of the heroic Ghetto Uprising in 1943. The
rest of Warsaw burned or was destroyed in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.
Until the sixteenth century, Warsaw was the
seat of the dukes of Mazovia. Beginning in 1569, it became the site of
sessions of the parliament (sejm walny) of the Crown and Grand Duchy of
Lithuania, and beginning in 1573, also where the Polish kings were
elected. In 1596, Warsaw became the capital of Poland.
Until this time, Warsaw’s history reflected the history of Poland as
a whole, with both its high and low points. The most difficult period
was the Second World War. Today, Warsaw is a typical reconstructed
postwar city, with several main axes and “central spaces”. The city is
socially very varied. It is a green city, with a population of 1.7
million. As a centrally located capital city, it has experienced rapid
development and has become Poland’s main economic and financial center.
Despite the enormous scale of destruction during the twentieth century,
Warsaw still has a leading role in the fields of culture, education and
In “Diapositive”, we have presented above all what remains of Jewish
Warsaw, the monuments to life as it used to be in that city, and
memorials to the victims of the heinous Nazi-era crimes.
The recently expanded Chopin International Airport (Okęcie) is
Warsaw’s main airport. From there, it takes about 15-30 minutes for
taxis and buses to reach downtown. International trains stop right
downtown (at the underground main train station, “Warszawa Centralna”). A
variety of hotels are available in all price ranges. Air, train and bus
connections link the capital with towns throughout Poland.
Services are held at the Orthodox Nożyk synagogue at ul. Twarda 6. Kosher meals are available nearby.