Along the Royal Way
The majority of historical buildings and sights are located on or near the Royal Way that begins in the Old Town. It leads past the Royal Castle and follows Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Nowy Swiat and Aleje Ujazdowskie to reach Lazienki Palace, the royal summer residence, and the Belvedere Palace.
Old Town. The eastern side of the Castle Square, which is the main gateway to the Old Town, is occupied by the Royal Castle. In the centre of the square stands the 22-metre-high Column of Sigismund III Vasa, the king who moved the capital from Cracow to Warsaw (late 16th c.). Only a short walk separates us from the Old Town Square in the middle of which stands the Mermaid, a symbol of Warsaw, cast in 1855. Numerous galleries, restaurants and open-air cafés attract crowds of tourists. There are also stalls selling paintings and drawings, and dorozki, the traditional horse-drawn carts that clatter tourists round the Old Town for a sizeable fee.
Krakowskie Przedmiescie. Along this street and in the Old Town area the majority of old churches are found. The street is lined with many former magnate palaces which now contain public institutions. There is also Warsaw University, which occupies a whole complex of buildings, and the headquarters of the Polish Academy of Sciences with the Monument to Nicolaus Copernicus in front of it.
Nowy Swiat. It’s one of the busiest commercial streets of the city, with countless shops, galleries, bookshops and cafés. While Krakowskie Przedmiescie is lined with the 18th century huge aristocratic residences, this street is dominated by the 19th century neo-classical houses and palaces. The southern part of the Royal Way, behind Aleje Jerozolimskie, dates back to the 20th century. A little further east towards the Vistula you will see the imposing building of the National Museum; the highlight of its collection are the impressive frescoes from an early Christian cathedral in Pharos, Sudan, discovered by a Polish archaeological team. Next door in the same building is the Polish Army Museum.
Aleje Ujazdowskie. The most charming street of the city, Aleje Ujazdowskie is a pleasant avenue mostly bordered with parks. In between you will find a number of little palaces occupied by foreign diplomatic missions and a dozen or so huge governmental buildings. There are also the Botanical Gardens and the beautiful Royal Lazienki park-and-palace complex.
Lazienki. Despite various ups and downs this most beautiful of Warsaw’s park-and-palace complexes has retained its original shape and architecture and is a perfect place for a leisurely stroll. Unveiled in 1926, the Chopin Monument is sited just behind the middle entrance to the park. Open-air Chopin concerts are held here in summer, invariably drawing crowds of music lovers and casual passers-by. Scattered around the park are the historical buildings of the Palace on the Isle, Amphitheatre, Myslewice Palace, and a few others.