Walking Tour of Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw is the capital and largest city in Poland. It has a history which dates to the Middle Ages and includes much war and destruction. World War II, however, was its most devastating time, when almost three-quarters of a million residents were killed or exterminated. The city itself was virtually destroyed. However, Warsaw has been painstakingly rebuilt and its Old Town (Stare Miasto) is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
My walk begins at Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy), just outside the Old Town. The center of the square contains a Statue of King Zygmunt III, atop a tall pillar. At the eastern end of the square is the Royal Castle, completely rebuilt from the rubble of World War II. The King’s Apartments are the highlight of castle tours.
After your visit, walk north on Swietojanska into the Old Town. St John’s Cathedral is the first major stop in this direction. The Gothic church was built in the 14th century. As you continue north, you will enter Old Town Square (Rynek Starego Miasta), where you will find the Historical Museum of Warsaw. This museum chronicles, in vivid detail, the destruction of the city during World War II.
Now, continue north to the Barbican, part of the city’s medieval fortifications. Not far away is New Town Square. The streets of both New Town and Old Town are delightful to stroll.
Next, retrace your steps, back to Castle Square, and then continue south, on Krakowskie Przedmiescie. This route leads from the Royal Castle to the Lazienki Palace, and is known as the Royal Way, because it traces the path from the king’s winter residence (the castle you just visited) to the summer palace of the rulers of Poland. Since the entire distance from palace to palace is approximately four (4) kilometers, you should decide whether you want to do the entire walking tour. An alternative is to walk one way, and then use public transportation to return.
As you walk south, stop first at St Anne’s Church, one of the city’s beautiful churches. A bit further ahead is the Radziwill Palace, the Polish “white house,” next to the Carmelite Church.
Further along is the Church of the Holy Cross, a 17th century edifice which contains the preserved heart of Frederic Chopin, noted pianist and composer.
Now continue southward, and then bear right onto Al Ujazdowskie, which leads to Lazienki Park which encloses Lazienski Palace, a lovely residence dramatically situated on the water.
After your visit, walk north along the same route, to the intersection with Al Jerozolinskie, and turn left. The major intersection, several blocks ahead, is the location of the Palace of Culture & Science, the tallest building in all of Poland, built by the Russians around 1950.
Now, turn right on Marszelkowska, all the way to the Saxon Gardens, at Krolewska Street. Make a right at Krolewska to reach the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on the left, where a Changing of the Guard Ceremony occurs on Sundays. Next, continue east on Krolewska, and then turn left onto Krakowskie Przedmiescie, to return to Castle Square, where you began this walk.