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Warszawa

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The Royal Route

The 11 kilometres long route starts from the Royal Castle on the Palace Square in the Old Town, runs through the Ujazdowski Castle and the lazienki Park to end at the Palace in Wilanowa. 

Besides from objects related to the royal court you get most of the town included in this tour. The Royal Route is one of the Warsaw trips giving the most amount of adventures; not only historical sights, but lots of life, restaurants and shops - in short, everything a big city can offer you.

A biking road runs along the major part of the route, and a good way of trying it out could be to rent a bike and make a few stops along the way. Another possibility is to take bus 116 from the bus stop by the Palace Square. It will take you through the entire route before finishing off by the Palace in Wilanowa. 

If you are fit and have all day at your disposal, then you can also make a walk out of it - and possibly return by bus. There are loads of possibilities to have a stop on the way. 

As mentioned the Route starts by the Royal Castle and continues down the old approach road to Warsaw,  Krakowskie Przedmiescie (Krakow suburb). Here you will find an abundance of great shops, churches, restaurants and the Presidential Palace.

Krakowskie Przedmiescie continues to Nowy Swiat (the New World), which in many ways resembles Krakowskie Przedmiescie, but the buildings are a bit lower.

We pass the junction Aleje Jerozolimskie (Jerusalem Avenue), where an artificial palm has been "planted", and from where you can see the National Museum and a number of elegant, grandiose buildings.

Plac Trzech Krzyzy (the Three Cross Square) distinguishes itself by a small, round domed church, the Hotel Sheraton, several historical symbols and a number of the most expensive shops in Warsaw.

Afterwards  Ujazdowskie Avenue, which has taken its name from a castle on the route. We see a number of resplendent town houses, good restaurants, a park and the PM's Chancellery.

Belwederska Street is characterized by Belweder, which is the residence of the present Polish President Komorowski. Besides it we find the Lazienki park and in front of that the Defence Department. The Defence Department's neighbour is the Russian Embassy, and a quick look at this building is enough to convince anyone that Russia had vital interests in Poland. 

Sobieski Street will show you hotels, shops and apartment blocks from the communist area  (absolutely worth a look).

The last stretch is Wilanowa, where you will see a fascinating amount of new apartment blocks. The street finishes by the Palace Park in Wilanowa - the summer Residence of King Jan Sobieski in the 17th century. 

Click on the image to see a video from the Royal Route

5 minutes with bus 116, from the Palace Square to Wilanowa

 

The red line indicates (approximately) the Royal Route. The blue line is the layout of the metro and the stations. Click on the map to see an enlargement. 

 

The Royal Route: straight ahead, but the street has a different name depending on where you are.  From Plac Zamkowy: Krakowskie Przedmiecie, Nowy Swiat, Plac Trzech Krzyzy, Ujazdowskie, Belwederska, Sobieski, Wilanowska

Krakowskie przedmiescie

 

Click on the pictures to see an enlargement!

The open space in front of the presidential Palace is a popular spot for demonstrations, and after Poland's late President, Lech Kaczynski, died in an air crash in Russia in 2010 it has become a place of worship for religious, nationalist right-winged extremists. 

If you notice a small group of pensioners standing in front of the Palace reciting "smolensk, smolensk" in a singsong manner, then it's all about a group that wants' to draw the attention to their viewpoint, i.e. that Russia stood behind the disastrous crash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sw. Anny (St Anna's Church) lies by the Palace Square. It's an old convent church, which now functions as University Church affiliated with the nearby University of Warsaw. 

At the right a close-up from the wall - one of the omnipresent memorial tablets from a papal visit. Pope John Paul II's words on his death bed are quoted here: "I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you".

On the left of the church, a terrace with a panoramic view over the Old Town.

 

 

 

 

 

A peep down Krakowskie Przedmiescie. The street is a mixture of tourists sauntering through the street, students and Very Important Persons visiting the Presidential Palace. 

Only buses, taxis, the police and important people may drive on this street, so it's relatively safe to move from one side to the other. 

 

Krakowskie Przedmiescie is filled with old symbols and new initiatives - here we see one of many Canaletto reproductions placed on the street. Caneletto was a court painter in the 18th century, and he is known for his photographic rendering of Warsaw.

 

 

At the left the Presidential Palace. Until a few years ago it was the residence of the President. The present President Komorowski has chosen to move his private residence to Belweder (a small palace we will visit later on the Royal Route), but the Presidential Palace continues to be the working place of the President. 

The original Palace originates from 1643. It burned down once and was subsequently reconstructed, but survived WWII without serious damages.  The Palace is now and then referred to as the Deputy's Palace, a name used from1818, when the Palace was home to the Russian Viceroy.

At the right we see the equestrian statue of Prince Jozef Poniatowski, a nephew to Poland's last elective King, Stanisław Poniatowski. The statue, made by the Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen, was destroyed during WWII. The original mould was in Copenhagen though, and the present statue is a present from Denmark to the Polish people. 

Left: The building without corners. This building was erected in 1935 on the order of Poland's strong man, Jozef Pilsudski, and he is reported to have told the architects to built the house "without corners, Gentlemen"! "Without corners" may in Polish also mean without secret commissions, but the architects chose to understand Pilsudskis words literally. 

Right: Hotel Europejski from 1878, designed by Henryk Marconi - one of the most elegant hotels of the time. It is closed down at the moment.

 

 

 

Hotel Bristol, erected 1901 by Wladyslaw Marconi (son of Henryk Marconi). The hotel was then a panorama of luxury and modern technology. The hotel has been renovated several times, but you still feel the past greatness when you are there. Next door neighbour to the Presidential Palace. 

 

Left: Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855). Poland's national poet. Patriotic stories in a romantic style. The Polish national character has undoubtedly been influenced by his work. 

The statue was erected in 1898 - on the 100 years anniversary of the birth of the poet. Warsaw was then a part of the Russian Empire, and the authorities were sceptical when allowing the new statue. Permission was hesitantly granted, but they did not allow for an inaugural ceremony. 

Right: The entrance to the Academy of Fine Arts, right in front of the University. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entrance to the University of Warsaw.  Founded in 1816. The daily working place for tens of thousands of students, professors, canteen ladies and others. A huge area filled with small palaces and student canteens (No beer on campus).

In spite of the enormous amount of square metres there is not enough space for all the activities of the University, and different faculties have been spread around town. The students create a vibrant pub atmosphere in the cafes around the University.

Everyone can freely enter the area, enjoy the atmosphere, chat or have a portion of canteen food.

 

 

 

 

Left: Kosciol Swietego Krzyza (The Holy Cross Church). There has been a church at this place ever since 1525. The present church was re-erected in 1953.

 

Right: Boleslaw Prus (1845-1912). Polish author. In the Warsaw Chronicle "the Doll" life in Warsaw during the Russian administration is described. The detailed descriptions of the town have later been the basis for reconstructions after WWII. Other works demonstrate a rare psychological insight into the way of thinking of people from different classes and eras.

Nowy Swiat

 

 

Krakowskie Przedmiescie continues into Nowy Swiat (the New World), where cafes and shops lie right beside each other in rebuilt town houses and small palaces. 

When deciding about the rebuilding after WWII it was decided to limit the buildings in Nowy Swiat to two floors, and before noon - when the street is quiet - it may appear slightly provincial. 

Most of the restaurants belong to some kind of change, and they may appear to be lacking personality. But try the side streets or follow the parallel streets - be curious! Walk through the gates and take a look at what's hidden behind. You will often find a large atrium with several bars and an interesting layout.

 

 

 

 

Cafe Blikle - A confectioner, whose family came to Warsaw in 1869. Some of the inhabitants of Warsaw only acknowledge cakes from  Blikle, and before national holidays there may be long queues in front of the counter.

The present Paterfamilias is a modern businessman who has utilized the brand to open a restaurant and other branches of this well-known bakery. 

 

 

Left: Nowy Wspanialy Swiat (the New Excellent World) is a cultural centre with a bar and a cafe. Frequent concerts and discourses. 

Right: The milk bar Familijny - Your last chance when the cash dispenser has stopped spitting out zloty or eaten your credit card. Good food, but a visit demands a Polish dictionary. 

Aleje Jerozolimskie

 

 

 

Rondo de Gaulle (de Gaulle Roundabout). The Royal Route is broken by the junction at Aleje Jerozolimskie (Jerusalem Avenue). In the middle of the roundabout you see an artificial palm from 2002, made on the initiative of the artist Joanna Rajkowska, after a visit to Israel in 2001.

 

 

Charles de Gaulle has been watching the traffic situation since 2005. It is a copy of a statue in Paris, made by the sculptor  Jean Cardot.

 

 

 

 

Left: A branch of the bookseller chain Empik, which also sells electronic equipment and perfume besides running language schools and cafes.  

At the front the words  "CALY NAROD BUDUJE SWOJA STOLICE" have been carved. The meaning: "the entire nation is building its capital" - refers to the time after WWII, where broken bricks from all over Poland were transported to Warsaw in a national initiative to rebuild the town. 

 

 

 

Just after Rondo de Gaulle we still have another 100 metres of the New World. At this stretch you are recommended to make sure you have sufficient funds on your credit card. 

Left: "Hustler - Gentlemen's Club".

 

Plac Trzech Krzyzy

 

  

 

 

 

 

Plac Trzech Krzyzy (Three Cross Square) - one of the more exclusive places in Warsaw.

The church in the picture at the left is the Alexander's Church (Kosciol sw. Aleksandra) from 1826. It was originally built from collected funds, which should have been used on a triumphal arch in honour of the Russian Tsar Alexander. Nevertheless the Tsar made it understood that he would prefer a church.

After having been destroyed during WWII the church was rebuilt in 1952. The original church was substantially higher and dominated the square, contrary to today, where the church falls in with the surroundings.

It is a popular church for weddings, and from the nearby pavement cafes you have a direct view of the processions on their way to this wedding factory.

 

 

 

 

 

Left: The Department of Economy. An interesting example of communist office building style. 

Right: Hotel Sheraton - Guarantees international food with the taste you expect. My British friends often go to this place in order to have the English national dish - Indian curry.

 

 

 

 

 

A place of contrasts - a frequent sight in Polish towns. A ripe for renovation building next to luxurious town houses. Personally I feel it gives an impression of originality. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: A look down Ksiazeca Street. Here we see the Stock Exchange from 2000,  a stylish example of modern architecture. 

 

Right: Wincent Witos (1874-1945). Polish politician. The Prime Minister of several governments just after independence in 1918.

 

Aleje Ujazdowskie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ujazdowskie Avenue - The old town houses and palaces of the nobility lying side by side - most of them are reconstructions, but that doesn't make them less impressive.

In the picture on the left we see the Embassy of Czarnogora (Monte Negro). As the wealthy nobility has ceased to exist most buildings are in the possession of embassies or official institutions.

A few hundred metres further along Switzerland has its representation, right next to the embassy of the United States of America, which looks more like a military complex. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stone's throw from the Three Cross Square the Kamienica pod gigantami (the house under the giants) rears itself.  This building was erected by the end of the 19th century, survived WWII and contains a wealth of interesting details. Here you also find the Restaurant pod Gigantami, mentioned in the restaurant section (Polish restaurants).

Ujazdowskie Avenue is generally a good place to go if you want something good to eat. The street is slightly off the places where tourists normally gather, which means that the need to provide quality is higher than in the Old Town. 

This is not where you find the very cheapest restaurants, but the price level is very reasonable compared to other European capitals. 

 

 

 

 

 

This building from 1895 survived WWII and is now home to the Polish Medical Association. It was designed by Jozef Pius Dziekonski, who got his inspiration from the Venetian palaces. On the ground floor you'll find a Mexican restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Browarmia - bar, restaurant and microbrewery with enough space for even huge groups.

The beer is excellent, and the food is traditional Polish party food. In the summer season you can sit outside.

 

 

 

 

Left: The old Post Office. From this place the mail coach sets off with letters and passengers. This was where Chopin left Warsaw to go to Paris.

Right: One of the many Chopin benches placed in different places around Warsaw. At each bench you will find a short text in English and Polish telling about Chopin's connection with this particular place. If you push the button on the bench you get a short piece of Chopin's music.

 

 

In the background the Polish Academy of Science (PAN), which has had its headquarters here since 1823. The building was erected in classical style, later it was adapted into byzantine, and after Polish independence in 1918 it was restored to its original state. Burned down 1944, rebuilt 1950.

 

In the front Bertel Thorvaldsen's statue of the astronomer Copernicus (1473-1543). As long as you are staying in Poland, then please remember that Copernicus was Polish (not German), though he was rather a mixture of different cultures. In a European spirit he worked and wrote in Latin.

The 2.8 metres tall statue was inaugurated in 1830. It survived WWII, and today it is one of the two Thorvaldsen Sculptures standing on Krakowskie Przedmiescie.

 

Should there be a gentleman among my readers, then I'm happy to inform you that Ferrari is represented just in front of the Gentlemen's Club. Should you during your visit find the love of your life in the club, then it's useful that you can just walk across the street to choose one of the cars in the display window, so that you can keep up your position when bringing home the chosen girl.

 

 

 

 

Next to the car dealer you find  Mont Blanc and an exclusive bodega. All of them are located in the building, which until 1990 used to be the Headquarters of the Polish Communist party. 

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The Royal Route is quite a trip. In order to be able to tell the story I have had to add another page. Please Click on continue to page 2 to see the rest of the Royal Route, or pres go to the top of the page to get to the navigation buttons.

Tourist guide in Gdansk, Warszawa and the rest of Poland