The magnificent Old Town is situated on a scarp right next to the bank of the Vistula. Its beginning dates back to the 13th century when a stronghold surrounded by a wall was established. The Old Town is obviously the oldest part of the city where many cultural events and social meeting take place. You can come across interesting galleries and exhibitions at every step as well as rest in one of many stylish restaurants or cosy cafés.
After the Warsaw Uprising, the Old Town was completely destroyed. Architects and residents of Warsaw rebuilt it together. Their final result was so highly appreciated that in 1984 the Old Town was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an example of a great reconstruction.
The Old Town consists of atmospheric, paved streets surrounded by tenements standing one next to another. It is full of alleys and squares where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Narrow Kamienne Schodki street is one of the most picturesque place in Warsaw. Its numerous steps lead to the Market Square [Rynek Starego Miasta] which is usually crowded with tourists. The rectangular square is full of restaurants and cafés, what is more, it is often used as a stage for various events. The famous Syrenka [Mermaid] is situated in the very centre of the Market Square. Syrenka is the symbol of the capital and there are many interesting legends about her.
If you get hungry, you should really visit one of the best restaurants in Warsaw ‒ u Fukiera (27 Rynek Starego Miasta). Another place definitely worth eating at is Bazyliszek (1/3 Rynek Starego Miasta).
When sightseeing in the Old Town, you cannot miss the Royal Castle [Zamek Królewski] which is located in the Castle Square [Plac Zamkowy] where you can find famous King Sigismund’s Column [Kolumna Zygmunta] (the oldest monument in the city and a popular gathering place). Visiting the castle is really worth it. There are impressive pieces of art, for example views of Warsaw by Canaletto and stylish, royal interiors. They will tell you a lot about the history of Polish rulers and fate of this Slavic city.
The Old Town is full of historical churches, artists’ houses, and palaces. The late-renaissance Church of the Gracious Mother of God in 10 Świętojańska [Sanktuarium Matki Bożej Łaskawej Patronki Warszawy], the baroque Church of the Holy Spirit in 3 Długa st.[Kościół św. Ducha], and The Church of the Visitation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary [Kościół Nawiedzenia Najświętszej Marii Panny] (2 Przyrynek st.), which is one of the oldest temples in Warsaw, are all really impressive. One of the most beautiful Polish palaces ‒ the Krasiński Palace in 3/5 Krasiński Square or the Branicki Palace in 6 Miodowa street are also worth seeing.
In Nowomiejska street, you can find the Warsaw Barbican and pieces of ramparts. Those interested in history of city fortifications should check a local exhibition. The touching Little Insurgent Monument depicting a boy wearing too big helmet [Pomnik Małego Powstańca], depicting a boy wearing too big helmet, is located next to it. It is a sign commemorating children who bravely fought during the Warsaw Uprising.
If you by chance discover the tiny Kanonia square hidden behind a church, make sure to check a bell in the middle of it. The bell has never been used in any church but it is believed that circling it three times brings luck for the following days.
The Old Town is the most genuine soul of Warsaw. Discovering its nooks is like a magical time travel.