Vibrancy of modernity and a rich cultural legacy define the drive and potential of Warsaw, a metropolis of almost 2 million residents in the heart of Europe.
If we read city space as a text, then Warsaw becomes a reading of many layers, undeniably interesting, at moments not thoroughly clear, therefore all the more fascinating. The cityscape allows to perceive the history that has been inscribed into it, but it also reveals what Warsaw is like today and what potential it holds for the near future.
Warsaw’s urban space is made up of, among others, the central part that is enjoying dynamic development: modern skyscrapers, shopping centres, office buildings. This is a metropolis daily welcoming hundreds of thousands of commuters, hence the integrated transportation services. All the infrastructure projects: bridges, thoroughfares, the second metro line, are a must in the rapidly growing agglomeration.
Warsaw holds a strong attraction to many. It ranks among the largest European metropolises, these competing against one another, yet also cooperating on the other hand. It is the city of modern scientific and academic, cultural, financial, and sports centres, as well as the host of many international events. Moreover, it is Poland’s centre of political life and the venue for the highest-ranking bilateral meetings.
All that is innovative and fresh goes hand in hand with the legacy defining Warsaw’s identity.
The capital of Poland is in its part made up of Socialist Realism architecture, to mention only the Palace of Culture and Science in Defilad Square in the strict city centre. To many the building bears no negative Stalinist-era connotations; instead, it has become one of Warsaw’s landmarks. Today, it houses theatres, a cinema, a cultural events café, a higher education institution.
However, on the other hand the cityscape also comprises the Old Town, rebuilt from rubble following the WWII total destruction, as well as Krakowskie Przedmieście and Nowy Świat Streets: the stately part of Warsaw, today vibrant thanks to crowds of tourists. The restored Royal Route leads along historic palaces, burgher houses, churches.
Throughout the academic year Krakowskie Przedmieście Street buzzes with students. It is off here that we can find the Campus of Warsaw University, merely one of over 70 higher education institutions (public and private) across the capital.
Another intellectual hot spot of the city is the Warsaw University Library in the Powiśle District (the name meaning: next to the Vistula). The building’s architecture expresses the spirit of the school: openness, dialogue, creative ferment of the academic circles.
Over 40 theatres, galleries, and museums amaze with quality art. For nightlife, the numerous clubs provide an attractive option, while restaurants offer cuisine from all the destinations worldwide.
Furthermore, Warsaw has been hosting international festivals, such as Jazz Jamboree attracting the greatest stars of this music genre. Every five years, Warsaw’s National Philharmonic Hall serves as the venue for the International Chopin Piano Competition. The Warsaw Autumn, in turn, is one of the most important contemporary music festivals boasting of a decades-long tradition.
A city gets its energy from people: their imagination and creativity. Warsaw is a hub of NGOs implementing a variety of social projects and campaigns.
Warsaw’s creative potential is best expressed in artistic projects incorporated into its urban space. One might be a bit startled at a 15-m-high artificial palm tree at the crossing of Jerozolimskie Avenue and Nowy Świat Street. Installed in 2002 as part of the ‘Greetings from Jerozolimskie Avenue’ Project, after vicissitude: leaves falling, leaves exchanged, it has rooted for good in the cityscape.
Another attraction can be found in the ‘narrowest house in the world’, the Keret House (after the Israeli writer Etgar Keret) raised in Warsaw’s Wola District in 2012. It can serve as a residence fitting in a 153-cm-wide space between a pre-war tenement and a post-WW II block of flats. The nearby footbridge used to communicate two parts of the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw.
As the authors of the latter artistic installation claim, ‘despite its lack of coherence, Warsaw constitutes a unique city of creative chaos’.
Poland’s capital is a thriving European metropolis; a cultural, academic, and financial centre rivalling the European ones. It is a strong city, aware of its legacy, linking the East with the West in many moments over its history, this not merely thanks to its geographical location. (PAP).