Warsaw

Short history

Warsaw was founded as a small fishing village in the 13th century. Over the centuries, Warsaw grew in importance as a key trading center in Poland. In the 16th century, it became the capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: itwas a start of a significant period of prosperity and development.

However, Warsaw has faced numerous challenges throughout its history. One of the most devastating events was the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, during World War II. The Uprising, which lasted for 63 days, was a heroic and tragic attempt by the Polish resistance to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. The city suffered immense destruction, with approximately 85% of its buildings reduced to rubble by the end of the Uprising.

During the Second World War, Warsaw bore the brunt of Nazi aggression and oppression. The city’s Jewish population was subjected to the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto, where thousands were confined in deplorable conditions before being deported to concentration camps. 

Despite the destruction, Warsaw was rebuilt and restored to its former glory in the post-war years.

Geography

Warsaw, the capital city of Poland, is sittuated on the Vistula river in the central-eastern part of the country. 

The city experiences a temperate continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. The average temperature in the winter months typically ranges from -3°C to -1°C, with occasional snowfall and freezing temperatures. In contrast, summers in Warsaw are warm, with average temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C. The city also experiences significant rainfall throughout the year. Additionally, Warsaw is known for its changeable weather patterns, with sudden shifts in temperature and occasional thunderstorms. 

Warsaw’s urban plan is characterized by a mix of green spaces, including parks, gardens, and forests. The Vistula River plays an important role in Warsaw’s geography, offering opportunities for recreational activities and scenic views.

Population

Warsaw has a population of approximately 1.8 million residents, making it the largest city in the country. Ethnically, the city is predominantly Polish, but numbers of other etnicities as Ukrainian, Belarusian and Vietnamese are growing. The majority of residents in Warsaw identify as Roman Catholic, reflecting the dominant religion in Poland. However, there is also a growing number of residents who practice other religions such as Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

In terms of language, Polish is the official language spoken by the majority of the population in Warsaw. But you can also hear other languages being spoken, especially in multicultural neighborhoods. The city’s population continues to grow steadily, attracting both local residents and expatriates looking for opportunities in business, education, and culture. 

Main sights

  • The historic Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s main features are cobblestone streets and colorful buildings.
  • The Royal Castle, once the residence of Polish monarchs, is an attraction with impressive collections of art and artifacts.
  • For those interested in learning about Warsaw’s tumultuous past, the Warsaw Uprising Museum offers an insight into the city’s resistance during World War II.
  • The Palace of Culture and Science, a towering Soviet-era building, provides panoramic views of the city from its observation deck.
  • Additionally, the Lazienki Park, with its beautiful gardens and iconic Palace on the Water, is a place for peaceful retreat from the busy city center.
  • In addition to these historical landmarks, Warsaw is also known for its modern skyscrapers such as the Warsaw Spire and Zlota 44.

Food

When it comes to Warsaw‘s culinary scene, traditional Polish dishes take center stage.

  • Pierogi: savory dumplings filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, or potatoes. Pierogi are often served as a main dish or side dish.
  • Bigos: a stew made with sauerkraut, meat, and spices. Also known as “hunter’s stew,” this is a traditional Polish dish that is slow-cooked to develop rich, complex flavors.
  • Paczki: a type of filled doughnut that is indulgent and delicious. Paczki are typically filled with fruit or custard and are enjoyed especially on Fat Thursday in Poland.
  • Zurek: a sour rye soup typically served with sausage and hard-boiled eggs. Zurek is a popular Polish Easter dish that is known for its tangy flavor and hearty ingredients.
  • Kotlet schabowy: a breaded pork cutlet similar to a schnitzel. This is a classic Polish dish that is usually served with mashed potatoes and a side of pickles.

Fun facts

  • Warsaw is home to the Varso Tower, the tallest building in Poland and European Union, standing at 310 meters tall.
  • The city’s iconic Mermaid statue, symbolizing Warsaw’s resilience and strength, can be found in the Old Town Market Square.
  • The Warsaw Royal Castle, reconstructed in the 1970s, houses a rich collection of art, furniture, and historical artifacts.
  • The city’s Chopin concerts, held in various venues around Warsaw, pay tribute to the famous composer who was born in the city.