Sigismund’s Column (Kolumna Zygmunta III Wazy) in Warsaw Old Town, built in 1664, is a thank you to King Sigismund III Vasa for moving the capital of Poland from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596. (The Germans topped in during the Warsaw Uprising, obviously, but it was rebuilt in 1949.) Also: balloons!
The Royal Castle in Warsaw (Zamek Królewski w Warszawie) in Castle Square. During World War II, Hitler and his cronies decided to steal all of the art, fireplaces, and even the floor before blowing up the place, but apparently the castle staff defied the Nazis and secretly organized to save many of the pieces . . . including the floor. WTF, how do you hide a floor from the Nazis?
Warsaw Old Town was built in the 13th Century, became a slum by the early 1900s, and then started to be made beautiful again by the 1930s. And then World War II happened. The Germans blew up every bit of the town that was left after the Warsaw Uprising, and if you get a chance to Google photos of the 1945 Warsaw ruins, they’re heartbreaking. Once the war ended, the people of Poland spent the next ten years rebuilding the city out of the rubble left behind, salvaging as many of the original details as they could, using the work of the king’s court painter in the 1700s, Bernardo Bellotto, as a guide. Old Town is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Looking down Ulica Piwna in Old Town Warsaw. I swear this translates to Beer Street, so I’m really hoping this is the Bourbon Street of Poland and I just happened to think it was pretty.
The Warsaw Monument to Insurgents (Pomnik Powstania Warszawskiego 1944) in Krasiński Square, Warsaw. For over 60 days in ’44, the Polish resistance army fought the Germans while the rest of the world kind of considered helping them and then were like, “Naaaaaaah.” Hundreds of thousands of Poles died during the operation, mostly from the Germans mass executing them around the city in places that are now marked with plaques to show how many people were murdered there. The bronze monument shows a collapsing building and Polish people climbing out of the sewers, which they used to secretly move underground. Sorry, this description was really depressing.