City Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Warsaw

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is the city with long, eventful, and often dramatic history that is reflected in the city's varied architecture, comprising Gothic, neoclassical, Soviet-era and modern styles. Warsaw's Old Town, it's main attraction nearly destroyed during WWII, is now back to its former glory, complete with Market Square at its heart, lined with pastel buildings and open-air cafes. Take this orientation walk to explore some of the most prominent sights of the Polish capital.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Poland » Warsaw (See other walking tours in Warsaw)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Author: leticia
1
Old Town Market Place (Rynek Starego Miasta)

1) Old Town Market Place (Rynek Starego Miasta) (must see)

Old Town Market Place is one of the oldest parts of Warsaw which was blown to pieces by the Germans following the Warsaw Uprising. This town market place was reconstructed to what it was before after the war ended.

Visit the Old Town Market Place on your trip to Warsaw. This charming area is the very essence of the city. It came into existence in the 13th century when the city of Warsaw was founded.

The marketplace used to feature a Town Hall where merchants and guilds representatives met periodically. It was here that occasional executions and fairs were held. This area featured many Gothic style houses which were destroyed by the 1607 great fire. In 1701, they were rebuilt by Tylman Gamerski in Baroque style. Another reconstruction of the current buildings took place between 1948 and 1953. These buildings look exactly the same as they did when the rich merchant families used to live there.

The Old Town Square has four sides namely the Dekert’s Side, Barss’ Side, Kollataj’s Side and Zakrzewski’s Side. Wario Wojciech maintains this square sporting a traditional red suit and carrying a curved sword. Your trip to Warsaw is definitely incomplete without a visit to this famous tourist destination.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
City Walls (Miejskie Mury Obronne)

2) City Walls (Miejskie Mury Obronne)

Warsaw’s city walls, known as Miejskie Mury Obronne, are a fourteenth-century double circle of protective city walls. This city landmark is fortified by several towers, including Krakowska (Cracow) Gate on the south and Nowomiejska on the north. Look closely at these brick walls and imagine how Old Town borders were defined and guarded.
3
Warsaw Barbican (Barbakan warszawski)

3) Warsaw Barbican (Barbakan warszawski) (must see)

The Warsaw Barbican is one of few remaining relics of the complex network of historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw. Located between the Old and New Towns, it is a major tourist attraction.

This Barbican was designed by Jan Baptist the Venetian, an Italian Renaissance architect who lived and worked in the Mazowsze region of 16th century Poland and was instrumental in the redesign of the 14th-century city walls, which by that time had fallen into disrepair. Almost immediately after its inception, the 4-tower barbican became an anachronism serving virtually no practical purpose. This was largely a result of the rapid advancement in artillery power. It was used in the defense of the city only once, during the Swedish invasion of Poland, on 30 June 1656, when it had to be recaptured by the Polish army of Polish king John II Casimir from the Swedes.

Largely destroyed during WWII, the Barbican was restored to its present form in the year 1954 on the basis of 17th-century etchings, as the new government decided it would be cheaper to rebuild the barbican and the nearby city walls as a tourist attraction than to rebuild the tenements.

Do not miss a visit to this famous attraction on your trip to Warsaw. The fort looks majestic and castle-like and takes you right back to the ancient times. View it from any angle and you will be impressed by its sheer majesty and awe-inspiring presence. You can also enjoy small art displays, handmade souvenirs and street musicians, and there are some decent places around for eating.

Why You Should Visit:
Not as much a destination by itself as a part of a city walk, but a nice fortress nonetheless, well rebuilt and well worth a look.
You can easily walk through it to get to the northern parts of Old Town which can be less crowded than the main parts around the square.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
New Town (Nowe Miasto)

4) New Town (Nowe Miasto) (must see)

Warsaw's New Town is a neighbourhood dating from the 15th century. It lies just north of the Old Town and is connected to it by ulica Freta (English: Freta Street), which begins at the Barbican. Like the Old Town, the New Town was destroyed by the Germans during World War II and rebuilt after the war.

During the Warsaw Uprising (1 August – 2 October 1944) the New Town was completely destroyed due to the extensive bombardment of the insurgent positions by the Germans. Many historic edifices, that served as hospitals and shelters for the inhabitants were razed to the ground. The reconstruction of the New Town started in 1954, but some of the significant buildings were not restored by the Communist authorities (e.g. Kotowski Palace).
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Krasiński Palace

5) Krasiński Palace

Krasinski Palace is one of the most wonderful Baroque Palaces in Warsaw. This is also the biggest palace and is popularly known as the Palace of the Republic. The palace was erected between 1677 and 1683 and features Tylman Vom Gameren’s designs.

The palace was exclusively designed for the voivode of Plock and recorder of the Crown Jan Dobrogost Krasinski. Many noted artists of that time such as Carlo Maderni, Jakub Solari and Giuseppe Belotti worked together with Tylman Von Gameren to construct this elegant palace.

In 1766, the palace was bought by the State Treasury and ever since it belongs to the Republic of Poland. No trip to Warsaw is complete without a visit to this beautiful palace. This palace has housed the treasury and other administrative authorities through ages. Parts of the palace were damaged and burnt during World War II. After the war, it was reconstructed and today houses the National Library Special Collection that includes antique books and manuscripts.

Krasinski Palace is a two storey building with a risalit in the middle and two corner annexes. Open arcaded galleries connect the middle risalit to the annexes. As you enter the palace, you will be impressed with the exquisite collection of paintings by eminent painters such as Rembrandt, Coregia, D’Azrer and Rubens. Do not miss out the two iron wells that are Empire cast. These wells were designed in 1824 by Chrystian Piotr Aigner.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Monument to the Warsaw Uprising Fighters

6) Monument to the Warsaw Uprising Fighters (must see)

Historically, the Warsaw Uprising was one of the most courageous attempts to defeat the Germans. This battle was fought between August and September 1944, when Germans were expelled by the combined effort of civilians and soldiers who fought for 63 days. They regained control over their city but could enjoy their victory only for a short while before reinforcements were sent by Hitler.

Many civilians were executed as a punishment by the Germans and the Old Town was completely destroyed. At least 90% of the city was damaged. Poland had paid a huge price in terms of dead and wounded. The battle scar remains to this day even as Poles are proud of their courageous uprising and resistance. Ironically, this monument commemorating the revolt heroes was only revealed to the world in 1989.

Located on the southern side of Warsaw's Krasiński Square, the monument is very dramatic and there is a lot of detail, so take time not just for a photo opportunity but to look carefully and to really understand how horrific this period of time was for ordinary people.

Tip:
It is helpful if you visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum prior to visiting the monument.
You could also join the Free Walking Tours of Warsaw – the one that deals with the Warsaw Uprising.
7
Old Town (Stare Miasto)

7) Old Town (Stare Miasto) (must see)

The Warsaw Old Town (Polish: Stare Miasto, and collectively with the New Town, known colloquially as: Starówka) is the oldest part of the capital city. It is bounded by the Wybrzeże Gdańskie, along with the bank of Vistula river, Grodzka, Mostowa and Podwale Streets. It is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Warsaw.

The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Place, rich in restaurants, cafes and shops. Surrounding streets feature medieval architecture such as the city walls, the Barbican and St. John's Cathedral.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
St John's Archcathedral

8) St John's Archcathedral (must see)

St. John's is one of three cathedrals in Warsaw, but the only one which is also an archcathedral. It is also one of Poland's national pantheons and stands immediately adjacent to Warsaw's Jesuit church. Along with the city, the church has been listed by UNESCO as of cultural significance.

Originally built in the 14th century in Masovian Gothic style, the Cathedral served as a coronation and burial site for numerous Dukes of Masovia. The Archcathedral was connected with the Royal Castle by an elevated 80-meter-long corridor that had been built by Queen Anna Jagiellonka in the late 16th century and extended in the 1620s. The church was rebuilt several times and preserved until World War II as an example of English Gothic Revival. Sadly, it was demolished during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 but rebuilt after the war.

Why You Should Visit:
Not only is this, by itself, a beautiful building worth seeing, but it is also an important international centre to promote sacred music and its value certainly increases when you attend an organ concert (schedules can be found online).

Tip:
If you visit, make sure that your pictures are taken from the bottom up!
The small crypt can be viewed for a small fee, whereas the rest of the church is free.
Do wander through the tiny streets around the cathedral as they are atmospheric as well.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 6am-8pm; Sun: 7am-10pm; no visiting during Mass please
[Crypt] Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm; Sun: 3-5pm; closed during Mass and services
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Royal Castle

9) Royal Castle (must see)

The Royal Castle in Warsaw is a castle residency that formerly served throughout the centuries as the official residence of the Polish monarchs. It is located in the Plac Zamkowy in Warsaw, at the entrance to the Old Town. The personal offices of the king and the administrative offices of the Royal Court of Poland were located there, from the 16th century until the Partitions of Poland.

In its long history, the Royal Castle was repeatedly damaged and plundered by Swedish, Brandenburgian, German, and Russian armies. In the 19th century, after the collapse of the November Uprising, it was used as an administrative center by the Tsar of Russia. Between 1926 and World War II, the palace was the seat of the Polish president, Ignacy Mościcki. After the devastation of World War II, it was rebuilt and reconstructed.

Today, it is a historic and national monument and houses a national museum, archives, and gardens. The museum is home to a unique permanent exhibit of Oriental textiles that includes over 600 oriental carpets. The castle holds many beautifully restored ornately decorated rooms as well as original works of art.

Why You Should Visit:
Grand and well kept, this castle is really more of a palace that easily matches the splendor of other palaces or royal residences in Europe.

Tip:
Take the guided tour in English which is on offer, but make sure that you have bought your separate ticket for entry to the castle from another desk.
Alternatively, either get a headset and listen to a self-guided tour or grab a free brochure when you enter to learn about the history and art.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 10am-6pm (May-Aug); Tue-Thu, Sat: 10am–6pm; Fri: 10am-8pm; Sun: 11am–6pm
On Wednesdays, admission to the permanent exhibitions of the Castle and the Under-Roof Palace is free (abbreviated route)
The Grand Courtyard, the Kubicki Arcades, and the Upper Garden are available for no charge until 5pm and on Fridays until 7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy)

10) Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy) (must see)

Warsaw's historic Castle Square is located at the entrance of the Old Town area, in front of the Royal Castle. The Square (in a more or less triangular shape) features the landmark Sigismund's Column to the south-west and is surrounded by historic townhouses. It marks the beginning of the bustling Royal Route extending to the south.

From this square, you can start all your touristic explorations of Warsaw. The Old Town for some historical ambience, Krakowskie Przedmieście for more landmarks and some food, or cross the river to Praga district for more alternative sightseeing. Sigismund's Column, the oldest and one of the symbolic monuments of the city, is a great meeting place and starting point for all walks and tours.
11
St Anne's Church

11) St Anne's Church (must see)

Founded in 1454, St. Anne’s ranks among Warsaw's oldest buildings and is one of Poland's most notable churches with a Neoclassical facade. Tourists flock to it to enjoy the unique ambiance as well as the magnificent, panoramic views over the city from the bell tower.

This church is situated in Castle Square and has been witness to the turbulent history of this country for centuries. It has silently been witnessing looting, reconstruction and fires (especially during the Swedish deluge), restoration (between 1749 and 1775) and again reconstruction between 1786-88.

The church was damaged by bombs in 1939 when part of its roof collapsed and again during the Warsaw Uprising. The already weakened façade, after reconstruction was started in 1945, collapsed due to a hurricane. It was again exposed to danger when cracks developed in its foundations during the 1948 tunnel drilling of the East-West Route next to the church. This disaster was thankfully averted on time. Do not miss a visit to this wonderful, ancient church that has indeed stood the test of time.

Why You Should Visit:
This church is completely painted from floor to ceiling with magnificent frescos. The illusions painted on the columns and walls are very beautiful.
It's also possible to climb to the top of the tower, which will earn you some impressive views over the city if lucky enough to get a clear day.

Tip:
Try to schedule your visit around noon or 2pm to catch the daily organ concert (lasting 30 mins).

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-3pm; Sun: 10am-7pm
Free entry; no visiting during mass, please
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Krakowskie Przedmiescie

12) Krakowskie Przedmiescie

Krakowskie Przedmieście (Literally: Kraków suburb) is one of the best known and most prestigious streets of Poland's capital, surrounded by historic palaces, churches and manor-houses. Krakowskie Przedmieście Royal Avenue constitutes the northernmost part of Warsaw's Royal Route, and links the Old Town and Royal Castle (at Castle Square) with some of the most notable institutions in Warsaw, including – proceeding southward – the Presidential Palace, Warsaw University, and the Polish Academy of Sciences headquartered in the Staszic Palace. The immediate southward extension of Krakowskie Przedmieście along the Royal Route is ulica Nowy Świat (New World Street).
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
Nowy Swiat

13) Nowy Swiat (must see)

Nowy Świat is the most elegant and most expensive street in Warsaw. You can have beautiful walks on both sides of the 1 km long street. Here can be used only buses and taxis. Often in the Nowy Świat are organized festivities and then the whole street is open only for pedestrians. Until the 16th century, Nowy Świat was a main road leading to numerous szlachta palaces and villages south of Warsaw. By the turn of the 18th century, the fields along Nowy Świat had become densely urbanized, mostly with wooden palaces and manors. In the Napoleonic period Nowy Świat was almost completely rebuilt. Wooden manors gave way to stone and brick, mostly three-story, neoclassical buildings. By the end of the 19th century, the buildings had been expanded and Nowy Świat had become one of the principal business streets of Warsaw. It was also one of the more heavily trafficked streets, with numerous shops and restaurants that attracted Varsovians as well as tourists. Larger new buildings replaced the earlier ones, and the character of the street changed. In the early 20th century, almost all trace of neoclassical architecture was lost as new buildings were erected mostly in art nouveau style. The street has become a popular place among Warsaw in the 20th century. After the war ruined it, the street was reconstructed. The street's present name was coined in the 17th century.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Warsaw, Poland

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South Warsaw Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Warsaw Landmarks Walking Tour

Warsaw Landmarks Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Warsaw Museums

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Travel Distance: 1.4 km
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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Warsaw Prominent Sightseeing Tour

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Warsaw is a city with a long history, a large number of monuments, and various landmarks. Walk through Warsaw’s historic streets and you will find a range of exceptional memorials, monuments, statues, and sculptures. Take the following walking tour to see the most prominent monuments of this most historic city!

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km

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