Following lunch on Sunday 25th September, which marked the official end of the 2016 Eastern Archdeaconry Synod, quite a number of the Synod members stayed on for an afternoon walking tour through the centre of Warsaw. It was good to have the opportunity to see something of the Polish capital before returning to Prague the following day.
The first building that caught my eye after the taxi dropped me off in the city centre, was the tower of the Palace of Culture and Science. This building is a classical example of Stalinist-Baroque architecture and bears a striking resemblance to Hotel International here in Prague, located just a few hundred metres from the Chaplaincy Flat. Both are based on the design of Moscow State University.
The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, built between 1952-55, was a ‘gift to the citizens of the city from the nations of the USSR’ 😉 During the communist era, it was seen as a symbol of Soviet domination and, as my Polish guidebook says, ‘still provokes extreme reactions, from admiration to demands for its demolition’.
Other examples of post-WW2 architecture are not so ostentatious such as this building which houses the Polish Ministry of Finance.
Our walk took us the length of Nowy Swiat, one of the historic thoroughfares of Warsaw, which later becomes Krakowskie Przedmiescie. Both streets are lined by a series of attractive buildings, but knowing how much is original, as against that which has been rebuilt since the destruction of World War Two, is difficult to tell.
This is the baroque fronted Church of the Holy Cross whose main claim to fame is being the burial place of the heart of the composer Frederic Chopin.
Two other Churches along this ‘Royal Route’ as it is known, are the Church of the Visitation……
……and the Carmelite Church, dedicated to the Assumption of the BVM.
In between is this grand palace which, since 1994, has been the official residence of the President of Poland.
Here, a balcony is being supported by four male figures, an architectural feature which can also be regularly observed in Prague, except that in Prague, the figures are more commonly female 🙂
The Royal Route ends in plac Zamkowy/Castle Square, which is actually more triangular than square 🙂 The original castle was built between 1598 – 1619. Sadly, this was utterly destroyed by the Nazis during World War Two and the current impressive building is a complete reconstruction undertaken between 1971 – 1988.
From the square, there is the view below, across the Vistula River, to a very recent addition to the Warsaw skyline – the National Football Stadium, completed in early 2012 in advance of Poland and Ukraine, hosting the European Football Championship.