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- November 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm #342318
Warsaw (Polish: Warszawa) is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River roughly 260 kilometres (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea and 300 kilometres (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population as of June 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855, and the Warsaw metropolitan area at approximately 2,631,902. The area of the city covers 516.9 square kilometres (199.6 sq mi), while the city's agglomeration covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi) (Warsaw Metro Area – Obszar Metropolitalny Warszawy). Warsaw is the 9th largest city in the European Union by population.
History of Warsaw
The history of Warsaw is mostly synonymous with the history of Poland. First fortified settlements on area of today Warsaw were founded in the 9th century and for many centuries coincided with the development of what is today known as the Warsaw Old Town.
During this time the city has experienced numerous plagues, invasions, devastating fires and administrative restrictions on its growth. The most crucial of those events included the Deluge, the Great Northern War (1702, 1704, 1705), War of the Polish Succession, Warsaw Uprising (1794), Battle of Praga and the Massacre of Praga inhabitants, November Uprising, January Uprising, World War I, Siege of Warsaw (1939) and aerial bombardment, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Warsaw Uprising (which in the aftermath nearly reduced all of the city to rubble by German occupiers).
The city was a site of other significant but less destructive events. It was the site of election of Polish kings, meeting of Polish parliament (Sejm), and events such as the Polish victory over the Bolsheviks at the Vistula, during the Battle of Warsaw (1920). Yet it has still grown to the multicultural capital of a modern European state and a major commercial and cultural centres of Central Europe.
1659 image of the Warsaw Siren
Warsaw is also known as the "phoenix city", as it recovered from extensive damage during World War II (during which 80% of its buildings were destroyed), being rebuilt with the effort of Polish citizens. Warsaw has given its name to the Warsaw Confederation, Warsaw Pact, the Duchy of Warsaw, Warsaw Convention, Treaty of Warsaw, Warsaw Uprising and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Warsaw’s motto: Semper invicta ("Always undefeated").
Etymology and names
Warsaw's name in the Polish language, Warszawa (also formerly spelled Warszewa and Warszowa), means "belonging to Warsz", Warsz being a shortened form of the masculine name of Slavic origin Warcisław. Folk etymology attributes the city name to a fisherman Wars and his wife Sawa. According to legend, Sawa was a mermaid living in the Vistula River who Wars fell in love with. Actually, Warsz was a 12th/13th century nobleman who owned a village located at the site of today's Mariensztat neighbourhood. The official city name in full is miasto stołeczne Warszawa ("The Capital City of Warsaw"). A native or resident of Warsaw is known as a Varsovian.
The first fortified settlements on the site of today's Warsaw were Bródno (9th/10th century) and Jazdów (12th/13th century). After Jazdów was raided, a new similar settlement was established on the site of a small fishing village called Warszowa. The Płock prince Bolesław II of Masovia, established this settlement, the modern Warsaw, about 1300. In the beginning of the 14th century it became one of the seats of the Dukes of Masovia, becoming the capital of Masovia in 1413. Fourteenth-century Warsaw's economy rested on crafts and trade. Upon the extinction of the local ducal line, the duchy was reincorporated into the Polish Crown in 1526.
1411 St. Mary's Church in Warsaw New Town
16th to 18th century
In 1529 Warsaw for the first time became the seat of the General Sejm, permanent from 1569. In 1573 the city gave its name to the Warsaw Confederation, formally establishing religious freedom in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Due to its central location between the Commonwealth's capitals of Kraków and Vilnius, Warsaw became the capital of the Commonwealth, and of the Polish Crown, in 1596, when King Sigismund III Vasa moved the court from Kraków to Warsaw.
Battle of Warsaw in 1656
In the following years the town expanded towards the suburbs. Several private independent districts were established, the property of aristocrats and the gentry, which were ruled by their own laws. Three times between 1655–1658 the city was under siege and three times it was taken and pillaged by the Swedish, Brandenburgian and Transylvanian forces.
In 1700, the Great Northern War broke out. The city was besieged several times and was obliged to pay heavy contributions. Warsaw turned into an early-capitalistic principal city.
Stanisław August Poniatowski, who remodelled the interior of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, also made Warsaw a centre of culture and the arts. This earned Warsaw the name of the Paris of the east.
19th and 20th centuries
Theatre Square in Warsaw, ca. 1925: on the right – the Great Theatre, on the left – Jabłonowski's Palace (1818-1939) seat of President of Warsaw
Warsaw remained the capital of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1795, when it was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia to become the capital of the province of South Prussia. Liberated by Napoleon's army in 1806, Warsaw was made the capital of the newly created Duchy of Warsaw. Following the Congress of Vienna of 1815, Warsaw became the centre of the Congress Poland, a constitutional monarchy under a personal union with Imperial Russia. The Royal University of Warsaw was established in 1816.
Following the repeated violations of the Polish constitution by the Russians, the 1830 November Uprising broke out. However, the Polish-Russian war of 1831 ended in the uprising's defeat and in the curtailment of the Kingdom's autonomy. On 27 February 1861 a Warsaw crowd protesting against the Russian rule over Poland was fired upon by the Russian troops. Five people were killed. The Underground Polish National Government resided in Warsaw during January Uprising in 1863–64.
World War I
On 1 August 1915 the German army entered Warsaw. The Russians, while retreating, demolished all of the Warsovian bridges – along with the Poniatowski Bridge, opened 18 months earlier – and took with themselves the equipment of the factories, what made the situation in Warsaw much more difficult. The German authorities, headed by gen. Hans von Beseler, needed the Polish support in the war against Russia, therefore took steps proving its friendly attitude to Poles – for example, reintroduced the possibility to teach in Polish: in 1915 they opened the Technical University, Warsaw School of Economics and Warsaw University of Life Sciences.
German airship Schütte Lanz SL2 bombing Warsaw in 1914
However, the most important decision for a city development was to incorporate the suburbs. The Russian authority hadn't allowed to extend the Warsaw’s area, because it was forbidden to cross the double line of forts, surrounding the city. By this reason, at the beginning of World War I on the area of today's Śródmieście and the old part of Praga (ca. 33 square kilometres (13 sq mi) 750,000 people lived. In April 1916, the Warsaw territory extended to 115 square kilometres (44 sq mi).
In autumn of 1918, the revolution broke up in Germany. On 8 November, the German authorities left Warsaw. On 10 November Józef Piłsudski came at the Warsaw-Vienna Station. On 11 November the Regency Council passed him all military authority, whereas on 14 November – all civil authority. By this reason, the 11 November 1918 is celebrated as the beginning of the Poland’s independence.
Warsaw became the capital of the newly independent Poland in 1918. In the course of the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920, the huge Battle of Warsaw was fought on the eastern outskirts of the city in which the capital was successfully defended and the Red Army defeated.
Poland stopped on itself the full brunt of the Red Army and defeated an idea of the "export of the revolution". Communist time table was slowed 24 years and countries of the Central Europe were spared from communist rule for a quarter of a century. Western Europe, where revolutionary fever was boiling over on the streets, was spared a bloody fight for survival. Unfortunately, political and military significance of this victory was never fully appreciated by Europeans. According Lord d’Abernon: The history of contemporary civilization knows no event of greater importance than the Battle of Warsaw, 1920, and none of which the significance is less appreciated. To commemorate these events, the 15 August is celebrated in Poland as the Day of Polish Army. The war even more increased the hatred between Poles and Russians, what appeared with the demolition of almost all of the Orthodox temples – only two survived in Warsaw.
Polish defences at Miłosna, near Warsaw“The history of contemporary civilisation knows no event of greater importance than the Battle of Warsaw, 1920, and none of which the significance is less appreciated”.
—Sir Edgar Vincent d'Abernon[http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ov20JwNwZrk#!
Battle of Warsaw 1920
The next event was the May Coup d’Etat (1926). On 12 May, Marshall Józef Piłsudski, displeased with the situation in Poland and in particular with the appointment of a new government, arrived on Warsaw from his residence in Sulejówek (small town at the east of Warsaw) at the head of the faithful troops. On the Poniatowski Bridge, he talked a bit with the President Stanisław Wojciechowski, who was trying to convince him to give up the action – but unsuccessfully. The next day, the Piłsudski’s troops forcibly conquered Warsaw and forced the government and Wojciechowski to resign. During the coup, as a result of the street fighting almost 400 people died – but mostly they were the rubbernecks who wanted to watch the fighting. The May Coup started the 13-year period of sanation – the authoritarian rules of Piłsudski’s camp. Although Piłsudski himself never accepted the office of President (but twice was Prime Minister), always played a preponderant role in Polish political life.
Polish commander Józef Piłsudski
In 1925, there lived 1,000,000 people in Warsaw. In the next 5 years, the city’s wealth doubled thanks to a good economic situation on the world. It enabled to build new, broad streets as well as a new airport. The first, temporary airport was opened in 1921 in the park Pole Mokotowskie, the second – permanent – in Okęcie, where it operates till today. Besides, the city’s government worked out the planes of metro (the realization was hampered by the outbreak of World War II) and opened the first radio station whose range covered almost all the Polish territory.
In 1934, the sanation camp suspended the Warsaw’s government and appointed Stefan Starzyński as President of Warsaw. He was a faithful supporter of “sanation” – at the beginning of his presidency consequently expelled all officials attached to his predecessor. But he was also an efficient official – stabilized the city’s budget, fought against corruption and bureaucracy, smartened up the city. However, the Poles remember him mainly due to his heroic behavior during September Campaign.
World War II
During World War II, central Poland, including Warsaw, came under the rule of the General Government, a German Nazi colonial administration. All higher education institutions were immediately closed and Warsaw's entire Jewish population – several hundred thousand, some 30% of the city – herded into the Warsaw Ghetto. When the order came to annihilate the ghetto as part of Hitler's "Final Solution" on 19 April 1943, Jewish fighters launched the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Despite being heavily outgunned and outnumbered, the Ghetto held out for almost a month. When the fighting ended, almost all survivors were massacred, only few managed to escape or hide.
Burning Royal Castle after a German shellfire and bombing raid on 17 September 1939The first bombs felt on Warsaw already on 1 September 1939
Warsaw Uprising was a struggle by the Polish Home Army to liberate Warsaw from German occupation before the Red Army could "liberate" it.
By July 1944, the Red Army was deep into Polish territory and pursuing the Germans toward Warsaw. Knowing that Stalin was hostile to the idea of an independent Poland, the Polish government-in-exile in London gave orders to the underground Home Army (AK) to try to seize control of Warsaw from the Germans before the Red Army arrived. Thus, on 1 August 1944, as the Red Army was nearing the city, the Warsaw Uprising began. The armed struggle, planned to last 48 hours, went on for 63 days. Stalin gave orders to his troops to wait outside of Warsaw. Eventually the Home Army fighters and civilians assisting them were forced to capitulate. They were transported to PoW camps in Germany, while the entire civilian population was expelled. Polish civilian deaths are estimated at between 150,000 and 200,000.
The Germans then razed Warsaw to the ground. Hitler, ignoring the agreed terms of the capitulation, ordered the entire city to be razed to the ground and the library and museum collections taken to Germany or burned. Monuments and government buildings were blown up by special German troops known as Verbrennungs- und Vernichtungskommando ("Burning and Destruction Detachments"). About 85% of the city had been destroyed, including the historic Old Town and the Royal Castle.
Destroyed Warsaw, January 1945. Sea of rubble – over eight out of every ten buildings in Warsaw were destroyed by the end of World War II. In left centre can be seen ruins of Old Town Market Square.
On 17 January 1945 – after the beginning of the Vistula–Oder Offensive of the Red Army – Soviet troops entered the ruins of Warsaw, and liberated Warsaw's suburbs from German occupation. The city was swiftly taken by the Soviet Army, which rapidly advanced towards Łódź, as German forces regrouped at a more westward position.
Warsaw Ghetto destroyed by German forces, 1945, view to the east
In 1945, after the bombing, the revolts, the fighting, and the demolition had ended, most of Warsaw lay in ruins.
After the war, under a Communist regime set up by the conquering Soviets, large prefabricated housing projects were erected in Warsaw to address the housing shortage, along with other typical buildings of an Eastern Bloc city, such as the Palace of Culture and Science. The city resumed its role as the capital of Poland and the country's centre of political and economic life. Many of the historic streets, buildings, and churches were restored to their original form. In 1980, Warsaw's historic Old Town was inscribed onto UNESCO's World Heritage list.
Construction of the Palace of Culture and Science, symbol of Soviet domination in Poland
John Paul II's visits to his native country in 1979 and 1983 brought support to the budding solidarity movement and encouraged the growing anti-communist fervour there. In 1979, less than a year after becoming pope, John Paul celebrated Mass in Victory Square in Warsaw and ended his sermon with a call to "renew the face" of Poland: Let Thy Spirit descend! Let Thy Spirit descend and renew the face of the land! This land! These words were very meaningful for the Polish citizens who understood them as the incentive for the democratic changes.
John Paul II's Mass in Victory Square, 1979
In 1995, the Warsaw Metro opened. With the entry of Poland into the European Union in 2004, Warsaw is currently experiencing the biggest economic boom of its history. The opening match of UEFA Euro 2012 is scheduled to take place in Warsaw.
Warsaw's mixture of architectural styles reflects the turbulent history of the city and country. During WWII, Warsaw was razed to the ground by bombing raids and planned destruction. After liberation, rebuilding began as in other cities of the communist-ruled PRL. Most of the historical buildings were thoroughly reconstructed. However, some of the buildings from the 19th century that had been preserved in reasonably reconstructible form were nonetheless eradicated in the 1950s and 1960s. Mass residential blocks were erected, with basic design typical of Eastern bloc countries.
Public spaces attract heavy investment, so that the city has gained entirely new squares, parks and monuments. Warsaw's current urban landscape is one of modern and contemporary architecture.
Warsaw skyline from Pole Mokotowskie
Collage of views of Warsaw. Top: Financial centre, Middle left: Royal Castle, Middle right: Old Town Market Place, Bottom left: Presidential Palace, Bottom right: Wilanów PalaceNovember 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm #365649
Very good post. The best city post yet!
Do you, by any chance, know of the construction plans at Port Praski? It is right next to the new stadium, but the city if planning to put a whole new and very modern neighborhood there. I have only found Polish language updates of this (posted one a while back), but I am eager to see what comes of this. My grandmother lives right by that area.November 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm #365650
AnonymousQuote:Very good post. The best city post yet!
Do you, by any chance, know of the construction plans at Port Praski? It is right next to the new stadium, but the city if planning to put a whole new and very modern neighborhood there. I have only found Polish language updates of this (posted one a while back), but I am eager to see what comes of this. My grandmother lives right by that area.
Yes, I heard about the plans about Port Praski and will try to find some more detailed info about it.November 5, 2011 at 5:51 pm #365651
This is all in Polish: http://siskom.waw.pl/aktualnosci.htm
But it is all about the development of Warsaw. Pretty cool.November 5, 2011 at 7:53 pm #365652
Excellent thread, Prelja!!! Rep for you!November 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm #365653
ThanksNovember 5, 2011 at 8:25 pm #365654
Oh my, I love Warsaw. It's full of culture – there's an old part of the city and a new side, something for everyone. People play music on the street corners, paint, it's just a great place to visit and live too.December 18, 2011 at 4:02 am #365655
A related video.
About how Fryderyk Chopin helped shape Warsaw and his experiences there.
Audio in Polish, but click the "CC" button for English language subtitles.January 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm #365656
Perfect as usual. Great city.
How did you ever receive a negative Rep? A definate mistake.January 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm #365657
AnonymousQuote:Perfect as usual. Great city.
How did you ever receive a negative Rep? A definate mistake.
I don't know, colour blindness maybeJanuary 28, 2012 at 6:04 pm #365658
Please continue. You, and as well Svätoslava are most informative. Classic presentations. Thanks.October 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm #365659
AnonymousQuote:This is all in Polish: http://siskom.waw.pl/aktualnosci.htm
But it is all about the development of Warsaw. Pretty cool.
as far as it is possible, there are plans to make a third center of Warsaw there. They are going to build skyscrapers, parks and developments. You can find some pictures here
and a wishful vision of Port Praski in ten years http://www.muratorplus.pl/inwestycje/inwestycje-komercyjne/czy-tak-za-10-lat-bedzie-wygladala-prawobrzezna-warszawa-zobacz-projekt-zagospodarowania-portu-prask_75871.htmlMarch 31, 2013 at 3:08 pm #365660
I was recently in Poland, besides Warsaw I visited Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot and Krakow. Really beautiful country and girls also, most of them are blondes, truly angels.May 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm #365661
AnonymousQuote:Really beautiful country and girls also, most of them are blondes, truly angels.
from forum to forum all findings are the sameJanuary 30, 2014 at 9:35 pm #365662
Warsaw 24h timelapse
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