Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is a city of contrasts. Much of the city had to be rebuilt after the World War II when 80% of its buildings were razed to the ground by the occupying German army before they abandoned it to the advancing Soviet army.
During the Communist regime, many prefabricated housing
projects were erected to deal with the housing shortage, including the greyish-brown
apartment blocks that are typical of Communist countries.
The Palace of Culture and Science was a gift from the Soviet
Union, and was completed in 1955. Nearly 800 feet high, it still dominates the
centre of the city. The Rolling Stones played here in 1967, the first major
rock band from abroad ever to play in Poland.
The historic streets, buildings and churches in the Old Town
were restored to their original form, including the Royal Castle (shown here)
which was reconstructed from a pile of rubble between 1971 Dating back to the
14th century, the castle was the residence of the Polish kings, then the
presidents, and also the seat of parliament.
The Old Town market place (Rynek Starego Miasta) was
destroyed by the Nazis and was rebuilt in the 1950s. Originally the centre of
the medieval town, the houses were rebuilt in late Renaissance style following
the great fire of 1607. These would have been the homes of the rich merchant
There are several interesting memorials in Warsaw,
commemorating events in World War II.
Another memorial in Warsaw commemorates the heroes of the
Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazis entered the ghetto on Passover in 1943, but it took
them a month to defeat the handful of resistors who fought back.
Along this path of suffering and death over
300 000 Jews were driven in 1942-1943 from the Warsaw Ghetto to the gas
chambers of the Nazi extermination camps,’ and over 400 of the
most popular Jewish first names are shown. The memorial symbolises an open
freight car and the gate is surmounted by a grave stone