Hidden gems of Warsaw

Get off the beaten track and discover Warsaw’s hidden treasures. Among them is the narrowest house in the world, a bell that grants wishes and a mammoth bone in a church. Check what other unusual attractions await you in the capital.

Walk the stone steps

Kamienne Schodki, fot. m.st. Warszawa
When walking around the Old Town, look for the Stone Steps – one of Warsaw’s most charming corners. In the Middle Ages, this narrow street descended down the steps to the Vistula. Over 200 years ago, wooden steps were replaced with stone steps, and the street got its current name. Currently, it is a favourite spot for photographers and newlyweds who organise wedding photo shoots there.

Discover the treasures of the University Campus

Uniwersytet Warszawski, fot. m.st. Warszawa
Go through the gate of the University of Warsaw on Krakowskie Przedmieście to discover one of the most charming places in Warsaw. On the campus you’ll see: the Kazimierzowski Palace, which is a historic royal residence, the former Library building and the rector’s building, in which the famous composer Fryderyk Chopin lived 200 years ago. You will also be delighted by the gardens, which make the campus a peaceful oasis.

See the socialist-realist sculptures around the Palace of Culture and Science

Rzeźba muzy Melpomene przy Pałacu Kultury i Nauki, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski
In this unusual art gallery around the outside of the Palace of Culture and Science you will find a series of monumental socialist-realist figures. In the front part there are sculptures depicting the national prophet Adam Mickiewicz and astronomer Mikołaj Kopernik. Recesses contain classical allegories of philosophy, music, literature and statues of a worker with a gearwheel, collective farm worker, a builder, a miner and a mechanic… The giant figures are a perfect example of 1950s art.

Arrange to meet under the palm at the de Gaulle Roundabout

Rondo gen. Charles'a de Gaulle'a, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski
What is a lonely palm tree doing at the busy Charles de Gaulle Roundabout? It is actually the work of the artist Joanna Rajkowska, which symbolises the former Jewish settlement of New Jerusalem. The palm is on the road that lead to it (now called Jerusalem Avenue). Due to its uniqueness, the Palm is an easy landmark for tourists and a convenient meeting place.

Count the Warsaw Mermaids

Syrenka na budynku Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego, fot. Tomasz Nowak
The mermaid is the symbol of Warsaw, a heroine of legends and a ubiquitous sight in the city. Her monuments can be found easily: in the Old Town Square and by the banks of the Vistula River near the Copernicus Center. However, as you will soon find out, her sculptures and decorations can also be seen on tenements, gates and even drain covers. How many Mermaids do you think you’ll find? More…

Meet the last Warsaw lamplighter

Agrykola, fot. Piotr Wierzbowski
In Warsaw, you can find historic gas lanterns that create a specific, mysterious atmosphere. The most famous Warsaw street illuminated in this way is Agrykola. Every day, the lamplighter uses a long stick with a hook to light the lamps in the evening and extinguish them in the morning.

Find the mammoth bone in the church

Kość mamuta w kościele św. Anny w Wilanowie, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski
Go to St. Anne’s Church in Wilanów, which was founded by the then owner of the district, Prince August Adam Czartoryski, and inside you will see an unusual exhibit – a mammoth bone that was unearthed when the temple was built in 1770. How old do you think it might be?

See historical photos of Warsaw in 3D

Fotoplastikon warszawski, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski
In a building on Aleje Jerozolimskie you will find a photoplasticon – a device that allows you to view photos in three dimensions. It is the oldest working device of this type in Europe. There are over 7,000 photographs in the collection of this original museum. The most interesting of them are photos of Warsaw, where you will see how the city looked at different times in its past. More…

Discover century-old backyard shrines

Kapliczka w podwórku przy ulicy Ząbkowskiej 12, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski
Shrines with figures of Christ, the Mother of God and saints were built mainly during World War II. They were placed in the backyards of tenement houses so that residents could gather around them to pray together. In total, in Warsaw you will find over 400 historic shrines, in particular in backyards in Śródmieście, Wola and Praga.

Walk around the bell that makes your dreams come true

Kanonia, fot. Tomasz Nowak
Go to the rear of the St. John the Baptist Cathedral, where on Kanonia square you will find a bell that makes your dreams come true. Just walk around it three times and make a wish… The bell – as the urban legend says – never hung in any of the churches because it was badly cast.

Attach a padlock on Gnojna Góra

Gnojna Góra, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski
Gnojna Góra, or Dung Hill, is a place that at one time people avoided. Why? Three hundred years ago it was a huge rubbish heap. Now, if offers a charming panorama of the Vistula and Praga. It is a tradition for lovers attach a padlock with their names to the balustrade, which is supposed to ensure their happiness in love.

Visit charming Mariensztat

Mariensztat, fot. Drummond79, Fotolia
Mariensztat is a small, quiet neighbourhood next to the Old Town. There was once a marketplace on its main square, and after World War II, an estate with buildings styled as medieval tenement houses was built around it. On the wall of one of them, by the market square, you will see a unique mosaic clock.

Doll’s House

'Domek Dla Lalek' przy ulicy Hożej 70, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski

At 70 Hoża street you will come across a small tenement house with tall chimney. Its unusual appearance means that locals call it the doll’s house. A hundred years ago, the building housed a chemical dye factory. With the expansion of the city, the house became surrounded by high tenements blocking access to light. To heat the tiny building, it was decided to add a tall chimney to it, giving it its current, original look.

Discover the atmosphere of Warsaw’s cemeteries

Cmentarz Powązkowski, fot. Tomasz Nowak
The fact that Warsaw has always been a multicultural and multi-faith city can be seen in its cemeteries. Visit Powązki, the most famous cemetery in Poland, and the resting place of well-known Poles, including artists and military commanders. Also visit the Jewish Cemetery – one of the largest in the world. There you will find the graves of spiritual leaders, political and social activists and artists. Orthodox believers, Evangelicals and Muslims also have their burial places in Warsaw.

See the last wooden houses in the city

Drewniany dom przy ulicy Biruty 18, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski
Where can you find the last wooden houses in Warsaw? Head to Warsaw’s Praga district, where you will see a one-story building at 9 Środkowa street. Its brown-painted façade is decorated with white window frames and elaborate gables. Similar houses can also be found at 18 Biruty street in Targówek, next to the gate of the Jewish cemetery and at 26 Kawęczyńska street, near the tram depot.

See a jewel of industrial architecture

Filtry, fot. Łukasz Kopeć
The Warsaw Water Filters is a historic building complex that is considered a jewel of 19th-century industrial architecture. It is also the only water supply system of this type in the world that is still functioning. You can visit it on European Museum Night and on selected Saturdays in July and August during open days.

Find out how Finnish houses came to Warsaw

Domki fińskie, fot. Filip Kwiatkowski
One of the biggest curiosities in Warsaw are the city’s wooden Finnish houses. They came to Poland from the Soviet Union, which received them from Finland as war compensation after 1945. Over 400 such buildings were erected in Warsaw and although they were supposed to be temporary, 20 of them still exist today. You can see them between Jazdów and John Lennon streets.

Visit the narrowest house in the world

Dom Kereta, fot. Bartek Warzecha, © Fundacja Polskiej Sztuki

In a narrow gap between the tenement houses on the corner of Żelazna and Chłodna Streets is the narrowest building in the world. The house, owned by Edgar Keret, a writer from Israel, has everything you need to live and work: a bed, desk, light, shower, toilet and even an oven. You can visit Keret’s House when it is open on selected weekends of the year.

Take a photo with a traditional Praga music band

Pomnik Kapeli Praskiej, fot. Tomasz Nowak
You can see one of the city’s most surprising monuments in Warsaw’s Praga district, which commemorates a traditional street band. Bands like this were the backbone of Warsaw folklore and they played traditional songs from building to building. Take the opportunity to  take a photo with the figures of musicians.
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