Warsaw Story

Capital for Two Nations
The word Warszawa was mentioned for the first time between 1281 and 1334, when the Masovien Dukes settled on the banks of the river Vistula (Wisla). Warsaw is a relatively young capital: it was established to serve as such for just formed The Republic of Two Nations (Polish and Lithuanian) in 1569. King Sigismund III Vasa moved officially capital from Cracow to Warsaw in 1596 and the town entered then its period of prosperity. In the 17th century Warsaw was plunged several times by the Swedish and Transylvanian troops, but it returned to its former glory in the end of the century. The next "golden age" of Warsaw coincided with the reign of the last Polish king Stanislaus August Poniatowski. 1791 rights were granted to burghers, the city administration was unified and divided into districts; local authorities obtained great power.

Into the Modern Times
The third and last partition of Poland by its neighbours in 1793 wept out the country from the map of Europe for 123 years; Warszawa fell under the Prussian jurisdiction. The city became again a centre of political and cultural life during short period of sovereignty, brought to Poland by Napoleon I. After the end of his era in 1815, Warsaw became capital for Polish Kingdom, a quasi-state politically dependent on Russia. Despite that, Warsaw kept developing its potential and modernity made its way to the city: in the ´40 the first railway (to Vienna) was built, then it was time to put first permanent modern bridge over the river, time for water supply system, sewerage and so one. Warsaw continued to grow even after the second uprising against Russians 1863, when the Kingdom had lost its last forms of autonomy.

1918 Poland regained independence and Warsaw became its capital again. During this 20-years period between World Wars, the capital develops also economically, and its cultural life blooms up. Many call it “Paris of the North”.

II World War
1939 the outbreak of World War II and the Nazi occupation brought back to life the old Warsaw tradition of clandestine schools and resistance. In 1943 the defeat of uprising in established by Nazis and just closed Jewish ghetto resulted in total annihilation of this district, where over half a million people were crowded together. Over a year later, on August 1st the clandestine army Armia Krajowa, backed up by some other military groups and almost all citizens, even children, arose against the occupant. This Warsaw Uprising lasted 63 days; when finally defeated, the Nazis announced death sentence for the city. Nearly all remaining inhabitants were deported or sent to concentration camps. The German troops began systematic destruction of what was left of the city, and 84 percent of the urban fabric was completely destroyed. Ca 650.000 people lost their lives. The losses in the cultural heritage - burned-down libraries, museums, churches and palaces – cannot be expressed in numbers. Warsaw will always remember this Uprising. And "Paris of the North" ceased to exist forever.

In 1945 Poland, becoming a Soviet satellite state, decided to restore and keep Warsaw as its capital. The Old Town and most of the historical buildings were carefully restored, in the very centre arose rows of new buildings in so called social realism style. In the ´50 the city obtained an unwanted gift – The Palace of Culture, which would become landmark of Warsaw.

Post War Times
Gaining back its independence in 1989, Poland changed rapidly, and the city has changed along.
Today Poland is member of EU, and many citizens of Warsaw look nowadays with different eyes on its odd landmark – The Palace of Culture became now kind of a harmless relict of the past; and few modern sky scrapers joined its silhouette in the city sky.

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