What’s Doing in Warsaw
Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is the ninth most populated city in the European Union. Like Budapest, this east European metropolis is renowned for its majestic royal palaces, churches, and parks, and exudes a regal and dignified air.
However, the city’s commanding beauty masks a tragic and turbulent past. Sometimes referred to as “the phoenix city” as a result of the number of wars it has endured, Warsaw is notable for having been almost completely rebuilt after nearly 85% of the city was destroyed during the Second World War.
Warsaw was officially founded by Bolesław II of Masovia in 1300, and was later ruled by his sons and descendants, known collectively as the Dukes of Masovia, in the 14th century. Having experienced countless wars and invasions since its founding, the city entered its darkest chapter in 1939, when German troops captured the city in the Siege of Warsaw and confined its Jewish population to the infamous Warsaw Ghetto.
In 1944, however, residents banded together to stage a resistance against German occupation in what became known as the Warsaw Uprising, which ultimately collapsed after 63 days of fighting. In retaliation, the German Army expelled Warsaw’s entire civilian population and razed the city to the ground, destroying many of its most prominent neighborhoods and landmarks.
Although Warsaw today has been restored to much of its former splendor, the city remains deeply and significantly changed by past events. Today, it is one of the most beautiful locations in Europe but also one of the most haunted – at once a picture fit for a travel brochure and a graveyard inhabited by ghosts.
As you stroll through its streets, take note of its stunning architecture and landmarks as well as the many reminders of its troubled history.