Warsaw (Polish: Warszawa) is the capital of Poland and, with 1.7 million inhabitants, its largest city. It is located on the Vistula River (Polish: Wisa), roughly equidistant (350 km, 217 mi) from both the Baltic Sea (Batyk) in the north and the Carpathian Mountains (Karpaty) in the south.The medieval capital of Poland was the southern city of Krakow, but Warsaw has been the capital of the country since 1596, and has grown to become Poland’s largest city and the nation’s urban and commercial center. Completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, the city lifted itself from the ashes. Today, almost every building in Warsaw dates to the postwar era with what little remains of the old structures being confined largely to the restored districts of Stare Miasto (the ‘old city’) and Nowe Miasto (‘new city’), as well as selected monuments and cemeteries, plus midwar modernist districts Ochota and oliborz.In 1939 the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany cooperated in the invasion and occupation of Poland only to strike against one another in 1941. A thriving European capital, Warsaw was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1939, and was the scene of two major uprisings:After five years under Nazi occupation, in 1944 the tide of war started to turn against the Third Reich. Soviet forces were approaching from the East, and so the leaders of Polish resistance movement confronted the choice of either liberating the capital or allowing for dubious Soviet ‘liberation’.The Uprising formally began on August 1, 1944 at 5PM. Fighting continued until October 5, 1944 when the Home Army and its allied organizations surrendered. In the first days of fighting, Nazis murdered about 60,000 civilians, including women and children. In total, the Uprising claimed lives of 180,000 civilians, and 18,000 insurgents. Polish fighters were outnumbered and outgunned as they hardly received any support from the Allies(the Soviet Union denied them airfields on the territories it controlled). The Soviet Union purposely allowed the Warsaw Uprising to fail. Notwithstanding the terms of surrender, Nazis destroyed over 85% of Warsaw. Out of almost 1,000 historically and culturally important buildings only 64 survived. Polish soldiers were sent to concentration camps. Some of Warsaw’s civilians were sent to concentration camps, others to Germany for forced labor or to different Polish cities. Once the entire city was turned into ashes, its inhabitants killed, its leaders killed or imprisoned, Soviet forces entered the city to establish a puppet government that would control postwar Poland for the next 50 years.Capitalist insultThe building at Nowy wiat 6/12 served as the headquarters for the Central Committee of the Polish Communist party until 1991 when some creative anti-communists decided to make the Communist Headquarters the home for the Warsaw Stock Exchange and The Banking Finance Center. The Warsaw Stock Exchange has since moved to the building directly behind the Communist HQ, but the irony remains.The city was rebuilt in the immediate aftermath of the war, and the monolithic gray apartment blocks that characterize much of the city (especially its outer areas) are a relic of the Stalinist utilitarianism that dominated the rebuilding efforts. A typical example of the Stalinist architecture is the monolithic Palace of Culture (palac kultury) with its clocktower, which remains Warsaw’s tallest building.Since the fall of communism in 1989, Warsaw has been developing much more rapidly than Poland as a whole. You wouldn’t recognize the city if you saw it ten years ago, and more changes are constantly taking place. Warsaw has long been the easiest place in Poland to find employment, and for this reason many of the Polish inhabitants of the city are first or second generation, originating from all over the country.Even though much of Warsaw seems to imitate western cities, there are many peculiarities to be found here that you will not find in western capitals. Examples include the communist-era bar mleczny (lit. ‘milk bar’) that remain in operation (essentially cheap cafeterias for no-frills, working-class traditional Polish dining, which have remained incredibly popular in the face of westernization). Europe’s largest outdoor marketplace, once located around the old stadium, has disappeared as the new National Stadium has arisen for the Euro 2012 football championships.Warsaw has a continental climate, with warm summers, crisp, sunny autumns and cold winters. Summers can vary from mild to quite hot. Travellers should bring light, summer clothes for the day, and an extra jacket for evenings, as they can sometimes get a little chilly. The main tourist season of Warsaw falls between May and September, from the middle of spring until the beginning of autumn, when the climate is at its most favourable. Although rainfall is generally evenly spread throughout the year, July does tend to be the wettest month according to weather statistics. Travellers would best be advised to bring heavy, water-resistant shoes with them when travelling in Warsaw in late autumn to early spring. The weather in winter varies, but it can get cold and very snowy. From December to March, the climate is at its coldest and overnight frosty weather becomes commonplace, along with some snow. The coolest months are January and February with temperatures falling a couple of degrees below zero.The Warsaw Convention Bureau is the official tourist information agency in Warsaw and can provide visitors with information regarding hotels, attractions, and events. They also have maps for travelers. Unfortunately, the bureau’s website isn’t well designed and doesn’t provide all that great of information, though, it can be helpful. They operate three locations in Warsaw. There are a few other organizations that are useful when planning or looking for information about a trip to Warsaw. The City of Warsaw has a lot of useful information on its website and would be a good place to get some information. Destination Warsaw has some useful information, but seems to boost its members’ products, restaurants, and services over others. Its main goal is the promotion of Warsaw as a destination abroad. The best source of practical tips, contacts, and current event information is the Warsaw Insider , available at every concierge, tourits information and larger newsagents

Airport: WMI Modlin Airport Cities in Poland

Country: Poland