January 31, 2014
At the end of WWII Warsaw was completely razed by the German forces. About 85% of old town Warsaw was destroyed, many buildings replaced with stark, classical, Soviet architecture. Today, many tall buildings of glass and steel rise between the heavy stone buildings. Here are some impressions of the contrasting streetscapes that exist in Warsaw.
The Warsaw Uprising is memorialized not only by a great museum, but also by small plaques scattered through the streets marking moments in the historic standoff against Nazi Germany. The heroic efforts of the Poles over those 60 days of fighting in late 1944 are still remembered by wreaths and candles, along with flags displaying the logo of the Warsaw Uprising.
If you venture into the Praga neighborhoods in search of the Neon Museum or to visit a Milk Bar, you will be greeted by crumbling facades of the 19th century housing blocks, amongst them converted factories housing artist and gallery spaces.
Many of the Warsaw buildings and monuments destroyed in the war were rebuilt in the Socialist Realism style. In a short walking tour, the largest remaining stone relief monuments to the MDM can be seen around the broad avenue Marszałkowska between the Centrum tram stop and Aleja Armii Ludowej.
The most famous example of Soviet architecture is the Palace of Culture and Science. It is generally disliked, although the view from the top is said to be the best in Warsaw because you cannot see the building.
After almost complete destruction, the Old Town of Warsaw, originating from the 13th century, was meticulously rebuilt. Today it is colorful and bustling.
Quite a few skyscrapers, street art and modern buildings give a sense of forward motion and an urban landscape where little is precious.
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