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Tourist Information about Warsaw

About Warsaw

Warsaw, nurturing over 400 years of pride as a capital, is Poland’s largest city and an economic, political, and cultural centre. The symbol of the city is the Mermaid, featured on the city seal. Warsaw is a bustling metropolis and features an unforgettable history. A city where a fourth of the terrain is covered by parkland and a city of culture for all tastes and budgets.

Royal Castle

Built in the 15th century, this castle served as residence of Mazovian princes. Once the capital was moved to Warsaw from Krakow, the castle served as seat of the king and the government. The castle has been renovated repeatedly and destroyed completely during World War II. It was rebuilt between 1971-1988 using the castle’s remains and rubble. Today, the segment with the clock tower opens the way to the Old Town. The Museum’s attractions include two original Rembrandt paintings as well as works by Bernard Bellotto, aka Canaletto, court painter to Polish King Stanisław August Poniatowski. Canaletto’s paintings were vital during Warsaw’s post-war reconstruction.
On the Vistula side are the recently renovated Kubicki Arcades which support the foundations and the cliffs and give the structure its shape. Following the 1831 Uprising they were used as stables and barracks, and then as garages. The arcades are original, as they were not destroyed during World War II. Currently they house an archaeological exhibit and pension.

Belweder

The classically-styled Belweder, designed by Jakub Kubicki, was formerly a 17th century villa that underwent a major transformation between 1818-1822. During World War I, the Warsaw Governor-General, Hans Hartwig von Beseler, lived there, but the palace was taken over and placed under police control by Teofil Neya in November of 1918. Until 1926, it was used as the headquarters of the President of the Second Republic, then between 1926-1935, it was the Minister of the Armed Forces, Józef Piłsudski’s office. Then, from 1939-1945, Ludwig Fischer, the German Governor of Warsaw, had his headquarters in the palace, followed by Bolesław Bierut in 1945, who held the office of President of the Republic of Poland subsequently. In 1989, the Belvedere again became the seat of the President: Initially of Wojciech Jaruzelski, and since 1990 – after first democratic election- of Lech Walesa. In 1994,  President Lech Walesa decided to move to the palace at the Krakowskie Przedmieście.

In 1998-2001 a major renovation and refurbishment of Belvedere took place. From 2010 until 2015 the Belvedere served as the seat of the Polish President – Bronislaw Komorowski. The palace hosted also celebrations with the participation of heads of state or representatives of the Chancellery of the President. Currently, the Belvedere is used for representative purposes, celebrations of the military and diplomatic meetings of the state authorities with foreign leaders.

Palace on the Island (Pałac na Wyspie)

The palace, located on an artificial island, was the summer residence of the King Stanisław August Poniatowski. Here his famous summer lunches took place on Thursdays. The current appearance of the palace is largely influenced by a major expansion that took place in the 17th century, ordered by Crowning Marshal Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski. Between 1772-1793, King Stanisław August Poniatowski transformed it into a classicist building, designed by Dominik Merlini and Jan Chrystian Kamsetzer. The newly-created palace became the summer residence of the King, and it was at his famous summer lunches, which took place on Thursdays, that the most renowned and notorious painters, sculptors, poets and writers converged. Between 1788-1793, the palace was rebuilt in the classical style, with all scenic paintings and sculptures provided by Marcello Bacciarelli and Jan B. Plersch. After the death of King Stanisław August Poniatowski, the palace passed into the hands of Prince Józef Poniatowski and in 1817, it became a Caesarian residence. In the interwar period, it was a part of the State Art Collection. In the autumn of 1944, the Germans moved all furniture and art to the Third Reich and set the palace on fire. It was rebuilt in 1945-1960 under the direction of architect Jan Dąbrowski, who restored it largely to its 17th century appearance. The palace is on an artificial island, in the middle of a lake, hence its name (Palace on the Island); it is connected to the land by two bridges with classicist columns. The most valuable building of Łazienki Królewskie is after a complete renovation, which took place in the years 2013-2015.

Palace in Wilanów (Pałac w Wilanowie)

The history of Wilanów Palace began in April 1677, when the village of Milanów became the property of King Jan III Sobieski. The village soon changed its name to Villa Nova (meaning ‘new town’), and then to Wilanów. The original residence was rather modest, since Augustine Locci, the King’s official architect, was asked to design a single storey house, to signify a typical building of the Polish Republic. However, military success and the growing importance of the monarchy in the years that followed contributed to the significant expansion of the original project. A massive extension was carried out from 1677-1696: after it was completed, the palace was an interesting combination of a Polish noble’s mansion, an Italian garden villa and a palace in the classic style of French King Louis XIV. After the death of the King, the palace became the property of his sons, but it was severely neglected, and in 1720, it was taken over by Elżbieta Sieniawska. Over the next nine years, she continued the construction work initiated by Sobieski; for example, she had the side wings built onto the palace. After her death, her daughter, Maria Zofia Denhoff inherited the palace. In 1730, Wilanów Palace was under the control of King August II Mocny, who made many changes, especially in terms of the interior decoration. In the middle of the 18th century, Izabela Lubomirska inherited Wilanów, and strived to return the palace to its earlier prestige and glory. 69 years later, she handed the palace to her daughter and her husband Stanisław Kostka Potocki. In 1805, largely thanks to his efforts, one of the first museums in Poland opened in Wilanów Palace. The Potocki family was associated with Wilanów until 1892, when the last of the family, Alexandra, gave the residence to her cousin Ksawery Branicki. The Branicki family resided in Wilanów until September 1944, and then in January 1945, the care of the palace was handed over to the National Museum of Warsaw. Wilanów Palace is one of the few historic buildings in Warsaw that was completely untouched and undamaged during World War II, and it stands today as a wonderful example of completely original Baroque architecture

Multimedia Fountain Park (Multimedialny Park Fontann)

All around the world, multimedia fountains attract many tourists. The Montjuic Magic Fountain in Barcelona, for instance, impresses with the soundtrack from ‘Titanic’, the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas moves with the ‘God Bless America’ tune, while the Floating Fountain in Osaka delights with the shapes formed by water. Warsaw multimedia fountains are located in an enchanting place near the Old Town and the Vistula. Up to 30 thousand litres of water a minute stream out of 367 nozzles. The streams are lit with colourful light from nearly 300 LED reflectors. In time intervals, impressive laser animations appear on the mist from nebulised water. In front of spectators’ eyes, the Mermaid climbs down the monument, swims under the Świętokrzyski Bridge and hits the town in a Warszawa car. The shows are accompanied by music, both classical (Chopin) and pop, such as Lady Gaga or Jean Michel Jarre. The Multimedia Fountain Park comprises of two fountains: the main one, with an area of over 2.200 sq m, and the line fountain, with the length of 120 metres, called the water organ. Children can play in a nearby water playground (the so-called pluskowisko), whose area totals 140 sq m.
The ‘Water – Light – Sound’ multimedia shows take place each Friday and Saturday from May till September at 9.30 pm (during September – 9 pm). On other weekdays, the shows do not include lasers and sound.

Heaven of Copernicus (Niebo Kopernika)

In one of the most modern planetaria in Europe, it is possible to see films related to sky and space, nature and the theory of evolution. The planetarium, covered by a dome with 16 metre diameter, allows visitors to travel to the most distant places in outer space, down the volcano or to go back to the origins of life on Earth. Due to applying modern multimedia technologies, spectators have the impression of getting immersed in the worlds which they observe, and which are normally unavailable to them. Animals from the depths of the ocean, microorganisms not visible to the naked eye, creatures from millions of years ago are at arm’s reach. Together with the film heroes, the visitors may conquest space, go for a cruise to the Galapagos with Darwin, see the bottom of the ocean or visit the Mayan pyramids and get to know the Mayan mythology.
The films, each lasting about an hour, are prepared with the use of land and satellite telescopes, and projected on a spherical screen, which surrounds the audience from all sides. Owing to a special optical projector, 20 million stars, including the Milky Way, appear in the sky.

More info: http://www.warsawtour.pl/en/about-warsaw.html

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