Idée #726 – Strolling through the historic center of Warsaw
The outskirts of the city were occupied from the 9th century by the colony of Bródno, and three centuries later by the colony of Jazdów. After the attack and the destruction of the latter at the end of the 13th century, a new colony succeeded it on the site of a small fishing village, called Warszowa. Around 1300, Boleslas II of Mazovia, Prince of Płock, founded the present-day city of Warsaw. At the beginning of the 14th century, it became one of the seats of the Dukes of Mazovia, then the capital of Mazovia in 1413.
Following the extinction of the ducal line, the Duchy of Mazovia was incorporated into the Polish crown in 1526. At the end of the 18th century, Stanislaus II, the last independent king of the Republic of the Two Nations, remodels the interior of the royal palace, and he makes the city a remarkable artistic and cultural center, which makes Warsaw the nickname of “Eastern Paris”.
During World War II, central Poland, which included Warsaw, came under the control of the “General Polish Government” established in Krakow and administered by Reichsleiter Hans Frank. The Jewish population of Warsaw – several hundred thousand, or about 30% of the city’s population – was then parked in the Warsaw ghetto and deported in July 1942 to the Treblinka extermination camp.
The Polish resistance triggered the Warsaw Uprising on August 1, 1944, which lasted 63 days, and which resulted in the massacre of combatants and the expulsion of the last occupants of the city. Stalin, hostile to the idea of an independent Poland, let the detachments of the Red Army stationed around the city wait patiently, witnessing the systematic destruction of the urban center by the Nazi troops, at Hitler’s request. Almost 84% of the city will be razed. Soviet troops end up “liberating” Warsaw on January 17, 1945.
Under the communist regime, reconstruction work on the Old Town began immediately, and the first phase of work was completed as early as 1953. Two years later, the cathedral and several churches were in turn completed. The decision to rebuild the royal palace was not taken until 1971 and the last works lasted until 1988. The immense restoration work of the Old Town of Warsaw earned it a UNESCO World Heritage listing in 1980.
Where is it ?