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Warsaw & more...
Virtually everything in Warsaw (Warszawa) today has been constructed in the last five decades. At the end of World War II roughly 85% of the city had been destroyed and most of the population deported or sent to concentration camps. More than a third of Warsaw's pre-war population was Jewish, but there are hardly any traces remaining of this heritage, other than a couple of small museums and a number of monuments, although new initiatives are underway to remember and recreate a touch of Warsaw's rich Jewish heritage. Much of the city's history can be explained by its location on the main east-west trade route from Germany to Russia - it has been attacked or overrun numerous times throughout the centuries, most recently by the Soviet Union. But while the vision of wide streets with tall Soviet-era tower blocks set back from the road is a common perception, the first-time visitor will be surprised to find how green the city is, and how many buildings of historical importance there are. Some of the palaces along the 'Royal Route' escaped destruction, as they were occupied by Nazi officers, but the rest have been reconstructed from the original plans and other documentary evidence (such as photos and paintings) to a remarkable degree of authenticity. In fact, many of these buildings are closer to the original architecture than before they were destroyed, as the alterations of the intervening centuries were not incorporated in the reconstruction. The breathtakingly successful rebuilding of the Old Town was rewarded in 1980, when the entire complex earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The impact of the Soviet era, however, is undeniable. The suburbs have vast tracts of identical tower blocks, and, within the city, many of the main commercial areas are built on a grand scale with wide, pedestrian-unfriendly streets and uninspiring office towers from both Soviet times and the present. Warsaw's 'mile zero' is at the intersection of aleje Jerozolimskie and ulica Marszalkowska - the Palace of Culture and Science is located on the northwest corner and serves as a good reference landmark. The main rail and bus stations are in the surrounding area, as well as most of the major hotels. From here to the river are the major tourist destinations - the 'Royal Route' runs north-south from the New and Old Towns, past the fashionable shops of Nowy Swiat, the palaces that survived the war and the royal gardens of Park Lazienkowski, before reaching Wilanow Palace to the south of the city centre. Warsaw is Poland's largest city and the main economic, cultural and educational centre. The city spans the Wisla (Vistula River), and all of the main tourists sites are on the left bank, while the right bank contains the increasingly fashionable Praga district. It was here that the Russians halted while the occupying Nazis finished off the Polish resistance (the Russians later crossed over the frozen river). The river itself is not navigable, owing to shoals and sandbars. The peak tourist season is from May to October when the weather is most pleasant, although there will be some odd days when the temperature rises above 30°C (86°F). January and February are the coldest months and temperatures can drop as low as -30°C (-22°F).
  • Sz. P. Tadeusz Smoter

    Bardzo się cieszę, że udało mi się pomóc w tak ważnej dla tej rodziny sprawie.
    Myślałam, że to tylko zbieżność nazwisk a jednak mamy piękny finał.
    Właściwie to pierwszy taki przypadek odkąd próbuje pomóc innym rodzinom żydowskim.
    Przy tak szczątkowej wręcz ilości żródeł jest to naprawdę trudne, ale czasem jak widać się udaje.

    Pozdrawiam gorąco
    J.K. – Polska

Cracow Spirit 2001 - 2014