Thursday, 19 July 2018

Poland: Warsaw Old Town (Castle Square And Royal Castle)

If you have limited time to spend in Poland's capital city, the best place to head for would be its old town. This may be the oldest part of the city but it is said to be the most beautiful and picturesque, an ideal place indeed for photography enthusiasts. You can spend hours or even a couple of days here as there are many corners and streets to explore and certainly a host of interesting things to do. Walking around one would never believe this town is a resurrected one. Old Town of Warsaw was badly destroyed following the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 and has in fact been reduced to ruin. How it is restored to its present day condition is incredible as the town and all the buildings in it appear very authentic, you can even feel an ambiance of the medieval era. This meticulous and mammoth task was made possible by the generous contribution of the Polish Community the fruit of which has earned Old Town of Warsaw a spot in UNESCO World Heritage list.

I had a most unforgettable tour of this charming, vibrant, and colorful town. My tour started from Castle Square.

Castle Square
Castle Square is located at the entrance into the old town. It lies on the southern edge of the town nearer to the highway. It is a major tourist hub and apparently a very popular meeting place.

This square is an important historic landmark with a history that dates back to the 13th century. Named a square but triangular in shape, Castle Square is surrounded by buildings with medieval-style architecture. They are so beautiful I couldn't help but gawk at them.

The square is a robust place with cafes, open-air restaurants and pubs dotting its edge. 

A 22 meter-high pillar called Sigismund’s Column dominates the square. This is the tallest non-religious monument in Warsaw. It was built in the middle of the 17th century to commemorate the Polish king Sigismund III Vasa who was responsible for moving the capital of Poland from Krakow to Warsaw.

Visitors can indulge in a number of activities at the square like horse cart rides, get entertained by street performers, dine alfresco or just hang out and watch the world goes by.

A tourist information centre (building on the far right) is also located at the square.

Royal Castle
Among all the buildings surrounding the square, the most prominent is Royal Castle. This castle is huge comprising many rooms, a royal apartment, a library and an expansive courtyard.

The most striking features of the castle are the towers with a clock, one located at the front and one at the posterior facade.

This 13th century castle was the official residence of Polish Monarchs. It was almost completely destroyed during the war but has been restored. It is now a public museum furnished with repossessed furniture and works of art that depicts the era of the last Polish King.
Just like many European countries most Polish don't speak or understand English so it is comforting to have a tour guide. This is Envy, my tour guide posing with me in the  courtyard of the castle.

This is one of the main blocks of the castle.

This is the Royal Library. It is located towards the posterior part of the castle, just next to the highway.

This is the side view of the castle.

Historic Buildings
The historic buildings in the vicinity have interesting facades. Some are very colorful but each has its unique allure. They are all restored structures and are now premises operating as shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation for visitors.

This is an ice-cream kiosk near the edge of the square.

My tour of Old Town continued with a walk along its old streets, heading towards Market Square.

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