Historic Centre of Warsaw

Warsaw, Poland

During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, more than 85% of Warsaw's historic centre was destroyed by Nazi troops. After the war, a five-year reconstruction campaign by its citizens resulted in today's meticulous restoration of the Old Town, with its churches, palaces and market-place. It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.

From these ruins, between 1945 and 1966, the will of the nation brought to life again a city of which 85% had been destroyed. The reconstruction of the historic centre so that it is identical with the original symbolizes the will to ensure the survival of one of the prime settings of Polish culture and illustrates, in an exemplary fashion, the restoration techniques of the second half of the 20th century. The reconstruction of religious edifices such as the Cathedral of St John, the churches of Our Lady, St James and the Holy Trinity, and the palace, was accompanied by the integral restitution of the urban whole, with its full land allotment and its reconstruction. The example of the market place of the Old City is justifiably famous.

Warsaw Old Town was established in the 13th century. The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Square: until the end of the 18th century the square was the most important place in Warsaw; regular fairs and festivities were held here. During the Second World War the square was turned into rubble, but after many years of reconstruction it was restored to its original beauty. Surrounding streets feature old architecture such as the City Walls and the Barbican. The Cathedral of St John, completed in the 15th century, was originally a parish church and only became a cathedral in 1798. During the war it was destroyed but it has been restored to its original Gothic style. The interior of the cathedral features many works of religious art, tombs and various sculptures and paintings.

Almost every building in the Old Town, a blend of different styles from Gothic to Baroque, is old and of a unique architectural style. Among the other attractive historic structures are the many churches, the Barbican, the City Walls, Fukier House, Pelican House, Pod Blacha Palace and Salvator House.

Warsaw's Old Town has been placed on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites as 'an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.

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