Old Town in Warsaw is one of the most commonly frequented places in Warsaw, especially by tourists. It has changed a lot over the centuries and even over the past few decades. The Old Town was damaged significantly during the WWII and got restored after the war. There were some additional restorations carried out over the last few decades making it look like you see now.
Warsaw castle was damaged during the 1939 war with Germany with famous pictures showing burning clock tower in September 1939. However, it still stood over the city. It got nearly completely blown up after the 1944 Warsaw uprising. When you visit the castle, it is still possible to see reminders of this time in the foundations that survived the war. The castle got rebuild after the war pretty much de novo. It now stands proudly in the Old Town once again. The interiors of the castle have been beautifully reconstructed according to the historical information available.
The castle was an important site not only the royal residence. It was used for the meetings of the Polish parliament. The old meeting room seen here on the left. Later the parliament rooms got moved upstairs. The Senate room now hosts a copy of the Polish Constitution signed on 3rd May 1791. There is also a painting by famous Polish painter Jan Matejko showing the scene after the signing of the Constitution. Many famous people are shown in the painting with the king in the center holding the Constitution.
My favorite room is the marble room hosting portraits of 22 Polish kings painted by Marcello Bacciarelli. It includes the big portrait of last king of Poland – Stanislaw August Poniatowski.
There are many more things to see in the castle, with all the beautiful little decorative details. It is worth a visit to see all the amazing things that are in the castle and learn about its history.
Once you leave the castle most people head to the main square in the Old Town. On your way one of the churches you pass, is the Saint John’s Cathedral. This is the church in front of which Matejko placed the scene seen in his painting of Constitution of May 3, 1791. It also had to be restored after the war, while not completely destroyed it was significantly damaged. It hosts organ concerts in the summer and sometime at other times of the year. The only time that visitors are permitted is when there is no mass celebrated. If you do come inside be respectful as it is a place of worship and not a meeting point, so keep your conversations to a minimum and very quiet.
As you continue along the street you get to the square. The houses surrounding it were also reconstructed after the war. They house a lot of little shops, museums, cafes and restaurants. This square has been pictured in many movies taking place in Warsaw. In wintertime, before Christmas there is a holiday market held here.
In the old days the town was surrounded by the fortifications known as Barbakan. What you can see now is all modern construction, however, it was constructed on the original foundations.
One of the amazing things to do around the Old Town is walk on the little streets, stop in for a coffee, go into a church, visit many little shops or just explore. It is fun, you get to see many beautiful houses, decorations and some streets offer views of the river.
Come and enjoy your time in the Old Town. After starting here, you can explore the other royal residences in Warsaw.