If you like to walk and view a nonstop tour of interactive history, then Warsaw (Warsawa) is should be on your "to-do" list. Poland as a whole is filled with some of the best walking vistas in all of Europe, but Warsaw is one of its best. A city much like a Phoenix that continually rises from the ashes, Warsaw is a dynamic and modern European city that offers a valuable range of multiple centuries of history. It will be tempting to spend the majority of your time only in the Old Town UNESCO world heritage sector, but a short walk from it are some treasures that are often overlooked.
Located along the Vistula River, the legends of it's origin are timeless. The most common story begins with a Duke who visits the home of a wmen who has just given birth to twins he named Wars and Sawa. He rewarded her kindness for feeding him by giving her money to increase the size of her homestead, and the settlement was formed. Another popular origin story consist of a man named Wars and a mermaid named Sawa that he met along the banks of the river. Together they formed the city in their namesake. It is the second of these stories that is represented greatly in imagery surrounding the city. In many areas you will encounter mermaid statues and metal bars in her honor.
Her legend is such an important part of the Warsaw story that a fountain dedicated to her is located near the river. For 5 months of the year on each Friday and Saturday night, this fountain is host to one of the most brilliant laser light displays in all of Europe. If you find yourself in Warsaw on a weekend between May and September, be sure to make it to the banks of the river before nightfall to enjoy this marvel. The best viewing place is on the hills of the old city looking down upon the fountains as its misting streams of water are the projection screen for the show.
Even in the winter, the fountain makes tributes to her that are sure to make memories.
Marie Curie is one of the greatest visionaries in the history of physics and medicine. In fact, to this day she is not only the first woman to win a Nobel prize for science, is one of only two people to ever win in two separate fields. The museum dedicated to her is just over a block from the gates to the Old Town is the home she was born to. The Museum focuses on how she became a field leading physicist from her youthful starts as a governess. The museum also highlights her contribution to the medical science field and how she revolutionized treatments for cancer.
No trip to Warsaw is complete without a visit to this museum. Located in an small castle, this museum is both informative and interactive. The tour begins as a walk through the old earthworks and sub-levels of the castle, each dedicated to his music and composition. Above, the focus turns to his personal life and relics of his journeys throughout Europe. The focus on his life ensures to impress upon visitors his heartache felt being part of the Polish Dispora living in Paris, unable to visit his occupied homeland.
No trip to Warsaw is complete without a trip to Łazienki Królewskie. Łazienki Park is a historic bath park originally intended for noblemen and royals. Along with being the largest park in all of Warsaw (76 hectares) it is a cultural and artistic centerpiece located near the Polish White House, the Polish Parliament known as the Sejm, and many foreign embassies.
Within the park are several trails, small castles and eateries. Around the main bathhouse is a large pond with breathtaking scenes, swans and ducks swimming by, and peacocks walking wild through the bushes and trees.
There is also an amphitheater which is often used for productions of live theater and music shows.
But one of the most incredible things to see in Łazienki is a Sunday treat for warmer months. Each Sunday, renowned pianists from across the globe are brought in to pay their personal tributes to Chopin under his statue. The pieces elected area always varied to ensure each artist is able to perform pieces without too much overlap. A benefit is that Chopin was such a prolific composer that there are many pieces to choose from. The warmer it is, the bigger the crowd will be, so definitely arrive early if you want to get a closer seat.
These are only three of the many historic \ally significant locations within walking distance of the Old Town. There are countless more, from the Palace of Science and Culture to the famed Warsaw Zoo to National Stadium. With so much within walking distance, the hardest part of each trip to Warsaw is to determine what will have to wait for the next visit.