Warsaw Multimedia Fountain Park, Wikimedia Commons
Warsaw, Poland - is the capital and largest city of Poland in east-central Poland about 300 km (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains and about 260 km (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea, 523 km (325 mi) east of Berlin. The city straddles the Vistula River.
Warsaw is a major international tourist destination and an important economic hub in East-Central Europe known as the "phoenix city" because it has survived so many wars throughout its history. Most notably, the city had to be painstakingly rebuilt after the
extensive damage it suffered in World War II, during which 85% of its buildings were destroyed.
Warsaw is known as the city of palaces, royal gardens and grand parks. Many aristocratic residences and mansions are located near the city center. Warsaw's palaces, churches and mansions display a richness of color and architectural details. Buildings are representatives of nearly every European architectural style and historical period. The city has wonderful examples of architecture from the gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical periods, all of which are located within easy walking distance of the
Gothic architecture is represented in the majestic churches but also at the burgher houses and fortifications. The most significant buildings are St. John's Cathedral (14th century), the temple is a typical example of the so-called Masovian gothic style, St. Mary's Church (1411), a town house of Burbach family (14th century), Gunpowder Tower (after 1379) and the Royal Castle Curia Maior (1407-1410). The most notable examples of Renaissance architecture in the city are the house of Baryczko merchant family (1562), building called "The Negro" (early 17th century) and Salwator tenement (1632). The most interesting examples of mannerist architecture are the Royal Castle (1596-1619) and the Jesuit Church (1609-1626) at Old Town. Among the first structures of the early baroque the most important are St. Hyacinth's Church (1603-1639) and Zygmunt's Column (1644).
Contemporary architecture in Warsaw is represented by the Metropolitan Office Building at Pilsudski Square by Lord Foster, Warsaw University Library (BUW) by Marek Budzynski and Zbigniew Badowski, featuring a garden on its roof and view of the Vistula River, Rondo 1 office building by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Golden Terraces, consisting of seven overlapping domes retail and business centre. Warsaw is ranked as 48th in the List of cities with the most skyscrapers around the world.
Green space covers 25% of the surface area of Warsaw, including a broad range of green structures, from small neighborhood parks, green spaces along streets and in courtyards, trees and avenues to large historic parks, nature conservation areas and the urban forests at the fringe of the city. There are as many as 82 parks in the city, the oldest ones, once parts of representative palaces, are Saxon Garden, the Krasinski Palace Garden, the Lazienki Park (Royal Baths Park), the Wilanów Palace Park and the Królikarnia Palace Park.
Like many cities in Central and Eastern Europe, infrastructure in Warsaw suffered considerably during its time as an Eastern Bloc economy, however, over the past decade Warsaw has seen many improvements due to solid economic growth, an increase in foreign investment as well as funding from the European Union. In particular, the city's metro, roads, sidewalks, health care facilities and sanitation facilities have improved markedly. Today, Warsaw has some of the best medical facilities in Poland and East-Central Europe. The city is home to the Children's Memorial Health Institute (CMHI), the highest-reference hospital in all of Poland, as well as an active research and education center. The Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology is one of the largest and most modern oncological institutions in Europe.
Warsaw is home to over 30 major theatres spread throughout the city, including the National Theatre (founded in 1765) and the Grand Theatre (established 1778). Among the most notable landmarks of the Old Town are the Royal Castle, King Zygmunt's Column, Market Square, and the Barbican. Further south is the so-called Royal Route, with many classicist palaces, the Presidential Palace and the University of Warsaw campus. Wilanów Palace, the former royal residence of King John III Sobieski, is notable for its baroque architecture and parks.
In Warsaw there are many places connected with the life and work of
Frédéric Chopin. The heart of Polish-born composer is sealed inside Warsaw's Holy Cross Church. During the summer time the Chopin Statue in the Lazienki Park is a place where pianists give concerts to the park audience. Also many references to
Marie Curie, her work and her family can be found in Warsaw: Marie's birthplace at the Warsaw New Town, the working places where she did her first scientific works and the Radium Institute at Wawelska Street for the research and the treatment of which she founded in 1925.
The mermaid (syrenka) is Warsaw's symbol and can be found on statues throughout the city and on the city's coat of arms. This imagery has been in use since at least the mid-14th century.