Warsaw. Not what I expected. But what did I think I would see from a country that was occupied by Germany and basically completely destroyed? The buildings in Warsaw look old and yet new at the same time and it takes a moment to realize why. Quick history for those of you that forgot history from WWII. Germany and Russia were fighting and put poor little Poland right in the line of fire. In 1944 the Warsaw uprising began and for 63 days, Poland stood its ground. That didn’t work out so well and the Germans decided to retaliate and bomb the city into oblivion. In the end, Russia won Warsaw and the architecture became very influenced by the communist. Fast forward just a little bit more and Warsaw regained their independence and blew up most of the communist influenced buildings.
So, what is it that we see in Warsaw? The city was rebuilt from visuals from paintings from about 250 years prior to the war. We see old buildings with brand new bricks. Being the capital of Poland, there is a bustling center of skyscrapers as well which are quite the contrast to the old town rebirth.
A fun little fact about this building. This is the law school at the University. This was German occupied during WWII and thus was not bombed as it was in the safety zone but about 60% of the University was lost. The University has about 53,000 students and was shut down in WWII because the Germans didn’t think the Poles needed to be educated ad education was punished by death. Funny to think that Marie Curie came from Poland and discovered Radium and Polonium (see why she named it that) and won multiple Nobel Prizes and yet the Germans still thought the Poles did not need to be educated.
Copernicus! Did you know he is Polish and not Italian? Another common misconception just like Marie Curie. Copernicus never really had a final resting place until 2008 because no one was sure where he was! After many attempts to find his remains and some DNA testing, some bones under the cathedral floor at Frombork Cathedral, Copernicus was once again found. In 2010 he was given a second burial and finally put to rest. It took a while for the Catholic church to recognize him as his science went against everything they thought. Now Poland proudly displays his statue in the city center. Why wouldn’t the earth be the center of the universe?!
Enough with the history right? Warsaw has more than just history to offer. The nightlife is always happening. I had crazy jetlag and it only seemed fair that I head out with a group of people with an average age of about 23! We found a bar just around the corner from the hostel that was closing forever! The owner was there and insisted that we take shots with a Polish lime. Turns out, he just wanted us to take shots of vodka with a pickle. Don’t knock it until you try it!
Let us not forget one of the most important things…the pierogi! These amazing little dumplings with some borscht or rye soup was the absolute perfect end to most of my days!