Winter Wonderland: The Phoenix City

Day 26
December 29th

Meeting Chopin


Today we wrapped up warm and went back into the old town of Warsaw, for a long days sightseeing. During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, most of Warsaw’s historic centre was destroyed. After the war, an initial five-year reconstruction campaign and continuing efforts until the mid sixties, brought to us the meticulously restored Old Town we see today. It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the thirtheenth to the twentieth century. This ability of the city, to rise from the ashes, gave it the nickname – the Phoenix city.

We started our day with a free half day tour. Sadly we had to leave before it ended, as it was cold to be standing still for long periods with kids. Still it was lovely to revisit such rich architecture and history.

Polish Communist Era Cars

Polski Fiat 126p

During communist rule in Poland there were many shortages but one thing you could get, were mass produced Polish cars. We stumbled across these Polski Fiat 126p which are still used by a tour company. These are perhaps the most well known of the Polish cars. They were produced from 1973 – 2000 under licence from the Italian company Fiat.

Other well known Polish cars included the Warsawa – named after this city, the 2 door Syrena, the light commercial van the Nysa, the Tarpan ute, the hatchback Polonez – that was still in production in 2002 and the Syrena Sport. The Syrena Sport which is said to be the most bueatiful Polish car ever made was only a prototype and never put into production as it was considered too flashy for communist ideals.

Palace of Culture and Science

Palace of Culture and Science

Originally known as Joseph Stalin’s Palace of Culture and Science, it is an iconic building of Warsaw. With it’s distinctive art deco inspired style it has one of the worlds tallest clock towers and at 237 meters tall is the tallest building in Poland. Built in the fifties, there has been many calls for it’s demolition due to it’s links with Stalin and his history of human rights violations – yet here it stands.

The old Town Square

Of course we had to return here to Warsaw’s centre and most visited sight. In actual fact it is not a square at all but a rectangle. Unlike most Polish town centres it unusually does not have a town hall or a church. Historically it did have a town hall but when it was taken down in 1817 it was never replaced. As to the absence of a church it may be due to the fact that there are so many churches near by?

Enjoying the stunning architecture, people watching, all the pretty Christmas decorations and people skating here, it is hard to believe that during the middle ages this was once a place of public execution.

Bubbles and illuminations

Once again back to the same lovely cafe we visited on Christmas day to warm up. Back out just watching our boys chasing after bubbles and admiring a “standing still” street artist. We so enjoyed just being here and were so glad we had accepted our friends offer to spend the festive season here in Warsaw with them. We wandered – mesmerised by the stunning Warsaw illuminations as we slowly headed home.

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