A walk through the Old Town

In the hurley-burley of twins and setting up house for a year in an apartment meant for short-term stays there hasn’t been much time for exploring and revisiting old haunts. But last week I managed to take a brief hour’s ramble round the Old Town, enjoying the trails already laid down in my previous five visits to Warsaw.  I’m almost at the point of not feeling like a tourist, and I tramp the territory here as I do the headlands, bush and beaches at home, although cobblestones are less forgiving on the legs than sand and dirt.

Let’s begin in Plac Zamkowy, dominated by the red brick Royal Castle, Zygmunt’s statue, and two rabbits and a hedgehog guarding the entrance to a collection of stalls selling regional food.

  

  

  

ul Piwna (behind the red and white van) is a narrow street with a vista to one of the many spires in this part of Warsaw. It is lined with shops and tiny restaurants: windows full of amber, and eating places made inviting with bright pots of flowers. The doorways charm with their decorative metal-work and carved or moulded decorations.

     

 

 

Turn right from ul Piwna and you get a glimpse of the Old Town square. Looking up you can see creatures protruding from the buildings: a dragon, a lion and a gargoyle face. And then you’re in the square, surrounded by buildings painted in earth colours, many sporting murals or other decorative features. The Old Town was systematically flattened by the Germans in WW2, then rebuilt under communist rule in the 1950s, using paintings by Canaletto the younger to recreate it in its eighteenth century form. The Warsaw Mermaid occupies its centre. Eating places are beginning to move their tables outside somewhat tentatively, persuaded by a few days of unreliable sunshine. 

  
  
  
 

A man with a magnificent face, fierce beard and ferocious moustache plays an accordion, pausing only to smoke a long cigarette. Another man dressed in the gear of an earlier era – blue and gold robe, wide sash, bulbous hat with a flat blue crown and a feather – paces to and fro.

  
  

Leaving the Old Town Square, you head towards the lookout across the Wisła to Praga which is where the Russian army settled to watch the Germans destroy Warsaw before taking over in early 1945. Through a colourful alleyway with a derelict niche containing a blank faced maybe-lion, and you’re back in Plac Zamkowy. No surprises for me in this walk but many familiar delights.

  

  
  

  

As you head back to the tram you look past St Anne’s Church where I learned to like organ music and along Krakowskie Przedmieście, which becomes Nowy Świat, the main thoroughfare in the heart of Warsaw and part of the Royal Route linking the Old Town with Łazienki Królewskie (the king’s baths) and Wilanòw Palace.

  

I’m linking this walk to Restlessjo’s Monday walks.

For another ramble around the heart of Warsaw see here.

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About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
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35 Responses to A walk through the Old Town

  1. Suzanne says:

    It looks like you are in for an interesting time. It’s fascinating how much your photos of buildings in Warsaw remind me of the buildings I saw in Cork, Ireland. There aren’t so many people though – or cars. It all looks very European and quite peaceful.

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    • Cork, eh? That surprises my ignorance a bit. Although I suppose 18th century architecture looks much the same everywhere. (IS Cork 18th C?)

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      • Suzanne says:

        I guess I was identifying with your situation. The leaving Australia at the end of summer to arrive in a cold land and get really busy setting up house and minding children is familiar to me. The similarities between the two cities is probably just superficial – brightly painted buildings, paved squares and those strange white skies of the north.

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  2. deannemmoore says:

    An enjoyable walk down memory lane. x

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  3. Sue says:

    Wonderful! I can’t wait to see Warsaw for myself….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rosemary Barnard says:

    How I would love to accompany you on your Warsaw walks if they are all as interesting and photogenic as this one. I like both the overviews and the details. I have just done my usual walk, stopping for a little bit of Italy for a coffee, profiterole and chat at Gaetano’s G&G Gelato. The next best thing to being with you.

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    • Good to know you’re out and about. I’d be interested to see what your discerning eye picked up on our walk together!

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      • Rosemary Barnard says:

        Probably the same as your discerning eye, given the selection of shots from my trip to Europe which I have attached in an email to you. Your pictures have encouraged me to revisit that folder and to appreciate its contents anew. I will probably add a few more of those pictures to accompany my next email.

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  5. restlessjo says:

    I’ve skim/rushed this to leave a comment, Meg, as I’m not yet dressed and our mizzly walk leaves in 20 minutes but I will come back for proper appreciation this afternoon. Hugs! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tish Farrell says:

    What a treat. What a very lovely city. I’m looking forward to more wanderings. Though don’t need the Christmas baubles just yet, lovely as they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I put all the links in more for my convenience, rather than to catapult my readers into Christmas! It’s an interesting city in many ways. The Jewish museum is now open, so it’s top of my list, as is a walking tour of Jewish Warsaw, on a day when I feel strong.

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  7. restlessjo says:

    Ah, that’s better! I could wander at will, in the Spring sunshine. 🙂 All familiar to me, Meg, and strange to be wandering the same turf as you (and no, those cobblestones aren’t at all forgiving- same problem in Tavira 🙂 ) Stare Miasto is glorious, isn’t it, and good to see it a little bit empty! Love your shots of the metal details and that one looking up (on the corner of Piwna?) and I have that blue tunnel shot from the other side. 🙂 Happy sunny Monday, Meg, and thanks for sharing.

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  8. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Meg Warsaw is such a photogenic city, I’m jealous of all those little details in your pics. Love the globes, the old man, an I have an obsession for mermaids, especially feisty ones, so I’m in heaven!

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  9. Heyjude says:

    A colourful place, so what’s with all the mermaids? Part of the coat of arms it appears, I went to read your other post but you only seem to have done the one – I hope you will continue the series on mermaids. Like Gilly, I am rather fond of them.

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    • Never ever call anything xxxx1, unless you have xxxx2 waiting in the wings!! There are more mermaids, but I haven’t got round to them yet – even a “Mermaids of Warsaw” guide book. At he moment I wonder if I’ll ever ramble the streets of Warsaw again! I’m trying to knock this whatever-it-is forever.

      Liked by 1 person

    • PS Coat of arms apparently used to be a shield-and-sword-bearing dragon which morphed into a mermaid, somehow.

      Legend of the mermaid? “According to legend, a Mermaid swimming in the sea stopped on the riverbank near the Old Town to rest. She found the place so admirable that she decided to stay. Local fisherman living nearby noticed that something was creating waves, tangling nets, and releasing their fish. Although their original intention was to trap the offender, they fell in love with the Mermaid upon hearing her sing. Later, a rich merchant trapped the Mermaid and imprisoned her in a wooden hut. A young fisherman heard the Mermaid’s cry and with the help of his mates, released her, whereupon she declared her readiness to offer fishermen her help whenever it would be needed. Ever since, the Mermaid, armed with sword and shield, has been ready to help protect the city and its residents.” (This is a retelling for kids.)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. icelandpenny says:

    Wonderful presentation of the architecture, both long shot & detail. I am especially struck by the narrow passageway with the blue ‘bridge/home’ connecting both sides, & ( of course) espeially charmed by the guardian hedgehog & rabbits…

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