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
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 junctionAleje 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Paterfamilias is a modern businessman who has utilized the brand to open a
restaurant and other branches of this well-known bakery.
Nowy Wspanialy Swiat
(the New Excellent World) is a cultural centre with a bar and a cafe. Frequent
concerts and discourses.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Right: Wincent Witos (1874-1945). Polish
politician. The Prime Minister of several governments just after independence in
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
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.
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.
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