Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland.
The city is located in east-central Poland in the heartland of the Masovian Plain about 300 km (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains and about 260 km (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea.
As of October 2018, the population of Warsaw is about 1.8 million people.
The city of Warsaw covers a total area of 517 square kilometers (200 square miles).
The average elevation of the city is about 100 meters (330 ft) above sea level.
The highest point is at 122.1 meters (400.6 ft) above sea level while the lowest point is at 75.6 meters (248 ft) above sea level.
The city straddles the Vistula River. Divided into right- and left-bank portions by the river, the city extends about 29 kilometers (18 miles) from north to south and 26 kilometers (16 miles) from east to west.
Warsaw’s name in the Polish language is Warszawa. According to some sources, the origin of the name is unknown. According to one theory Warszawa means “belonging to Warsz”, Warsz being a shortened form of the masculine name of Slavic origin Warcisław.
Fortified settlements founded in the 9th century form the core of the city, in today’s Warsaw Old Town. However it didn’t really grow into a town until the 14th century.
In the 15th century the town became the capital of the duchy of Mazovia.
In 1526 city became incorporated into the kingdom of Poland; from 1569 the Polish parliament (Sejm) met in Warsaw, and from 1573 the elections of the kings took place there.
Warsaw is notable among Europe’s capital cities not for its size, its age, or its beauty but for its indestructibility. It is a phoenix that has risen repeatedly from the ashes of war.
Having suffered fearful damage during the Swedish and Prussian occupation of 1655–56, it was again assaulted in 1794, when the Russian army massacred the population of the right-bank suburb of Praga.
During the Second World War, Warsaw was razed to the ground by bombing raids and planned destruction. After liberation, rebuilding began as in other cities of the communist-ruled People’s Republic of Poland.
Warsaw’s mixture of architectural styles reflects the turbulent history of the city and country.
The Warsaw Old Town is the oldest part of Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. It was established in the 13th century. The Old Town is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Warsaw. The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Place, rich in restaurants, cafés and shops. Surrounding streets feature medieval architecture such as the city walls, the Barbican and St. John’s Cathedral. The Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
The Royal Castle in Warsaw is a castle residency that formerly served throughout the centuries as the official residence of the Polish monarchs. It is located in the Castle Square, at the entrance to the Warsaw Old Town. The personal offices of the king and the administrative offices of the Royal Court of Poland were located there from the sixteenth century until the Partitions of Poland.
Palace of Culture and Science is a notable high-rise building in Warsaw. Constructed in 1955, it is the center for various companies, public institutions and cultural activities such as concerts, cinemas, theaters, libraries, sports clubs, universities, scientific institutions and authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Motivated by Polish historicism and American art deco high-rise buildings, the PKiN was designed by Soviet architect Lev Rudnev in “Seven Sisters” style and is informally referred to as the Eighth Sister. The building is the tallest building in Poland, the eighth-tallest building in the European Union. It is 237 meters (778 ft) tall.
Łazienki Park is the largest park in Warsaw, occupying 76 hectares (188 acres) of the city center. Originally designed in the 17th century as a baths park (hence the name) for nobleman Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski, in the 18th century Łazienki was transformed by Poland’s King Stanisław August into a setting for palaces, villas, classicist follies, and monuments. In 1918 it was officially designated a public park. Łazienki is visited by tourists from all over Poland and the world, and serves as a venue for music, the arts, and culture.
Wilanów Palace is a royal palace located in the Wilanów district. Palace survived Poland’s partitions and both World Wars, and so serves as a reminder of the culture of the Polish state as it was before the misfortunes of the 18th century. It is one of Poland’s most important monuments.
Warsaw is an alpha global city, a major international tourist destination, and a significant cultural, political and economic hub.
The Warsaw Stock Exchange is the largest and most important in Central and Eastern Europe.
Warsaw is renowned for its bars, restaurants, art galleries and, most notably, several dozen museums and outspread greenery, with around a quarter of the city’s area occupied by parks.
Once described as the Paris of the East, Warsaw was believed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world until World War II, which had left over 85% of its buildings in ruins.
One of the most famous people born in Warsaw was Maria Skłodowska-Curie, who achieved international recognition for her research on radioactivity and was the first female recipient of the Nobel Prize.