Chances are that while planning a visit to Europe, Poland is not one of the first countries that you consider visiting. However, the largest city in Poland, Warsaw, is one place that should not be missed while touring Europe. The moving history of the city takes center stage at numerous monuments and museums.
Visitors leave with a greater understanding of the strength and spirit of the people who have called this country home as well as the determination they had to rebuild this city after utter devastation. The following attractions are just a few that should not be missed.
Warsaw Uprising Museum:
This museum opened in 2004 to honor the more than 200,000 that died while fighting for the country’s independence against the Nazi invasion. It has quickly become one of the most visited tourist attractions in Warsaw for good reason. It features close to 1,000 exhibits that include video footage, photographs, and interactive displays that leave a lasting impression on visitors. Make certain to view the 3D film entitled “The City of Ruins” that details how Warsaw was totally destroyed during this time period.
This is a part of the city that was expertly reconstructed from scratch after being destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. While walking along the picturesque streets, you will see talented musicians and entertainers on almost every corner in addition to a large selection of restaurants, pubs, outdoor markets, souvenir shops, churches, palaces, and more.
The Palace of Culture and Science:
This is the tallest building in Warsaw and offers an amazing panoramic view of the city from the 30th floor. All total, it is 44 floors high and includes theaters, museums, a cinema, and a restaurant as well as many independent business offices. It provides plenty of options for tourists to choose from.
Pawiak was built in the 19th century to house enemies of the Russian czar, but during World War II it was used to hold and torture Polish political prisoners. In 1944 part of it was blown up by Germany, but what remains can be toured. You can view cells that held prisoners crammed in together prior to being killed or moved to concentration camps. The exhibits are extremely informative and powerful. Be aware that it will be a very moving experience and is not for the faint at heart. There are stories told by survivors, remnants of prisoner uniforms covered in blood, and various steel whips, among other torture devices that are on display. It gives great insight into the true evil that was experienced during Poland’s bleakest days.
Lazienki Park is the largest park in Warsaw and is the perfect antidote after visiting some of the sadder sights in Warsaw. It features the palace lived in by Poland’s last monarch, majestic gardens, several museums, monuments including the famous Chopin Statue, the old Orangery, and much more. You can spend hours strolling around the grounds feeding nuts to the squirrels, eating ice cream, and listening to the outdoor piano recitals.