Walking the streets of the Old and New Towns allows you to rest from the the bustle of central city life. Atmospheric alleys, squares, and cosy cafés create a unique sense of history, and in the summer, the Old and New Town Squares become stages for musical and theatrical performances and open-air galleries.
Krasińskich Square and Długa Street
OLD TOWN (STARE MIASTO)
Historic centre and oldest part of the city, it is also a living, breathing cultural salon. Founded in the 13th century as the prince's castle, it is surrounded by walls. During World War II, 90% of it was destroyed, but thanks to its excellent restoration and recovery, in 1980 it was granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage List. Currently, it is a lively place, bustling with tourists and locals, and full of galleries, cafés and restaurants.
Royal Castle (Zamek Królewski)
pl. Zamkowy 4
Built in the 15th century, this castle served as residence of Mazovian princes. Once the capital was moved to Warsaw from Kraków, 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 castle remains and rubble. Today, the segment with the clock tower opens the way to the Old Town. Museum attractions include two original Rembrandt paintings as well as works by Bernardo 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.
King Zygmunt III Waza Column (Kolumna króla Zygmunta III Wazy)
The oldest and tallest non-church monument in Warsaw was raised in 1644 by King Władysław IV, in honour of his father Zygmunt III Waza, who in 1596 moved the capital from Kraków to Warsaw. The monument stands 22 metres high with the actual figure of the King measuring 275 cm. The sword he holds in his right hand symbolises bravery, while the cross he holds in his left hand symbolises his readiness to fight evil. According to legend, should the King’s sword fall downward, disaster is sure to follow. The statue fell during World War II and its destroyed column placed next to the Royal Castle, where it can still be seen today.
Church of St. Martin (Kościół św. Marcina)
ul. Piwna 9/11
The church is located on Piwna Street, which is the longest street in the Old Town, with a length is 250 m. Founded in 1356 by the Duke of Mazovia Ziemowit and his wife Euphemia, it has been reconstructed. The main body of the church is baroque, and located next to the monastery are buildings of the Augustine priests, where the Mazovian voivodeship local councils took place in the 16th century. The church played a resistance role in the 1970s and '80s, as it was a place where opposition members gathered. More information
Cathedral Basilica of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (Bazylika Archikatedralna pw. Męczeństwa św. Jana Chrzciciela)
ul. Świętojańska 8
Modestly squeezed in a series of buildings, the cathedral was erected in its current form (earlier there was a wooden chapel on this place) in the 14th century as a parish church, and gradually took on increasing importance, until it became the most important church in the Republic of Poland. Weddings, coronations and royal funerals were held here. Primate Stefan Wyszyński's tomb is in the basilica and in the crypts there are also numerous tombs: of the dukes of Mazovia, the archbishops of Warsaw, the last Polish King Stanisław August Poniatowski, President of Poland Gabriel Narutowicz and Nobel prize winning-writer Henryk Sienkiewicz. In the summer, organ concerts are held in the cathedral. More information
Shrine of Our Lady of Grace the Patron of Warsaw (Sanktuarium Matki Bożej Łaskawej Patronki Warszawy)
ul. Świętojańska 10
Built in the late-Renaissance style, between 1609-1629, the early-Baroque altar has a miraculous portrait renowned for the graces of Our Lady of Grace, the Patroness of Warsaw; it was donated by King John Casimir to Pope Innocence X. The stone bear lying in front of the church has a romantic legend connected to it: in this enchanted rock, a shy prince waits for the one woman whose love can restore him to manhood. More information