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Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Warsaw -- a charming capital

By Warsaw Trade Office

Today Warsaw is a city with many faces where tradition intermingles with modernity. From the terrace on Zamkowyy Square, where the Royal Castle and St. Anne's Church are located, is a view of the new Swietokrzyski Bridge. The dominating silhouette of the city center belongs to the Palace of Culture and Science, which today shares the city skyline with numerous office towers. You can feel that breath of history in the Old Town, on Nowy Swiat Street and everywhere where the city's roots have been preserved.

A colorful old town

Zamkowy Square, containing Sigismund's Column, is the most prominent feature of the Old Town. The 15th-century Gothic St. John's Cathedral stands on narrow Swietojanska Street. Its crypt houses the sarcophaguses of the princes of Mazovia and the tombs of many famous Poles. The cathedral is the summertime venue of the International Festival of Organ Music. The Old Town's history dates back to the early 14th century. Due to the amazing reconstruction that followed the destruction of World War II, the Old Town was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980.

The Old Town's charming little streets and alleys are home to numerous galleries, cafes and restaurants. In the Old Town Square, which becomes a busy open-air gallery in the summer, painters sell landscapes, panoramas of Warsaw and portraits of passerby. Also on the square is the Warsaw History Museum, which presents the history of the city. Jazz concerts are held here in summer on Saturday nights and horse-drawn carriages are available for visitors.

Walking along the royal route

Zamkowy Square is the starting point of the former Royal Route, which runs south to Wilanow Palace. On the embankment above the Vistula River stands St. Anne's Church, founded in the 15th century by Princess Anna of Mazovia, with Rococo and Classist wall paintings and a large facade. The view from the church tower includes Mariensztat, an autonomous part of the city in the 18th century with its own law and town hall. Nearby is the Polonia House, which was once the Museum of Industry and Trade, where Maria Sklodowska-Curie worked before she left for France. Curie went on to discover radium and polonium, for which she was awarded with the Nobel Prize.

A number of elegant stores and restaurants are located on Nowy Swiat Street, an extension of Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street. Beyond Trzech Krzyzy Square are Ujazdowskie Avenue and adjacent park areas. The Botanical Gardens and Royal Lazienki Park, a magnificent palace-and-park complex founded by King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, create a true oasis of green in the city center.

The Royal Route ends in Wilanow, where King Jan III Sobieski established his residence. The Baroque palace, surrounded by a historical park, has retained part of its collections and original organization. The Poster Museum, located on the palace grounds, features the work of great contemporary Polish artists.

For body and spirit

Warsaw has plenty to offer music lovers. Events held here include the Mozart Festival, the jazz Jamboree International Festival and the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music. Every five years, fans of Chopin's music gather here for the International Chopin Competition. In the summer, Chopin's music can be heard every Sunday at the Chopin monument in Royal Lazienki Park. The National Museum houses a rich collection of Polish and foreign art. One of the collection's prize items are valuable frescos from Farras in Sudan, discovered by Polish archelogoists.

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