Long before the city even existed, Warsaw played a pioneering role: In the region surrounding today's urban area, archaeologists found evidence of people making cheese between 7,500 and 8,000 years ago. The city was actually founded in the ninth century. Documents dating from this period reveal that there was initially a fortified settlement on the site of the present-day city, consisting of a hill fort and a village. However, this settlement was abandoned at the end of the eleventh century. A new fortified site was built in the twelfth century on the left bank of the Vistula as one of the seats of the Mazovian dukes.
In 1596, Sigismund III Vasa decided to relocate the residence of Polish kings from Kraków to Warsaw, making the city the de facto capital of Poland and resulting in a significant cultural and economic boom. The city has continued to grow since the 13th century; most of the buildings in the old town were built in the 14th century, including the Gothic St. John's Cathedral and the later Royal Castle. This cultural and historical heritage was largely destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War.
Yet like a phoenix from the flames, the Polish capital rose from the ashes of war and the old town was rebuilt based on paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Incidentally, the destruction caused by World War II wasn't the first time Warsaw had been reduced to ashes and rubble: During the Second Northern War (1655-1657), the city was destroyed by Swedes, Brandenburgians, and Transylvanians and again in 1734 by Swedish and Russian troops - and subsequently rebuilt on each occasion.
The old town is also the biggest tourist attraction, especially the market place, where restaurants, cafés, and shops can be found. It is encircled by the medieval city wall, the Barbican (a Renaissance castle), and St. John's Cathedral. It wasn't just the old town that was rebuilt during the Soviet era, however. During the reign of Stalin, Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science was built as a gift to the Polish people. At 237 meters, it is the tallest building in the city; the belfry, at 165 meters, is the tallest in Europe.
Warsaw holds another - rather inglorious - record: It is Europe's most blocked up city. This isn't referring to the citizens' digestive systems, but rather the city's roads. Residents spend an average of 106 hours stuck in traffic every year. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways of recuperating from it. Łazienki Park is one of Europe's biggest palace and park complexes. Free concerts are held here every Sunday from May until October. Warsaw also has more theaters than cinemas (47 to 36) - so a rich and varied cultural program is guaranteed.
One special feature in Warsaw is the children's patent office. It has been in existence for ten years and more than 30,000 inventions have been patented in this time, which proves that children are full of good ideas - and maybe the next big thing will come from Warsaw, possibly even with components from Rutronik24.
As you can see, Warsaw is definitely worth visiting. Here are some suggestions for what to see and do while you are there.
Restaurant: Bohemia (bohemiarestaurant.pl/en/)
Tradition meets modernity at Bohemia, where the historical old town meets the modern skyscrapers. The same can also be said of the menu, which ranges from steaks and burgers to seasonal dishes. The homemade potato pancakes are highly recommended.
Restaurant: Rozana (www.restauracjarozana.com.pl/en/)
Rozana is a picturesque, fairy tale-like setting complete with twittering birds and blooming flowers. It serves light and delicious dishes based on traditional Polish cuisine. You can expect fish dishes, such as marinated herring or salmon tartare, as well as various lighter dishes like crayfish crêpes and potato blinis with caviar.
Restaurant: Ritual Club Warsaw (www.ritualwarsaw.com/EN/)
Clubbing and sushi may sound unusual, but it is quite normal at the Ritual Club. The spectacular interior of this club, which only opened in 2016, is something quite special. On the menu are countless sushi specialties and you also get the chance to see Poland's best bartenders in action and taste their wares.
Bar: Panorama Sky Bar (http://www.panoramaskybar.pl/en)
Poland's highest bar affords a spectacular view of Warsaw and the luxurious ambience leaves nothing to be desired. In addition to the breathtaking view, there is a wide selection of outstanding vodkas, champagnes, and unique cocktails as well as snacks, salads, and desserts. The crème de la crème of the Polish club scene will keep you entertained with first-class music.
Bar: Bar and Books (www.barandbooks.pl/warsaw/us.html)
This interior of this cozy bar on the edge of the old town is designed like a library. It is rather pricy by Warsaw standards, but it has a really outstanding selection of cocktails, whiskies, and cigars from all over the world. The atmosphere in the bar is unparalleled, often underscored by excellent live music.
Hotel: Stalowa 52 (stalowa52.pl/en/)
The Stalowa 52 is a real insider tip. It is situated in a district of Warsaw that is currently highly popular among those on the city's art scene. With its chipped plaster and exposed wires, the hotel consciously conveys a certain industrial flair, which is further underlined by the wooden and metal furniture in the rooms. The restaurant is also a real culinary experience.
Hot spot: Vistula Boulevards (warsawtour.pl/de/project/weichsel-boulevards/)
The Vistula has shaped Warsaw's history and the look of the city for centuries. The riverside promenade is several kilometers long and provides plenty of space for taking an extended stroll as well as doing a spot of sunbathing in one of the gazebos furnished with sun loungers, stone benches, and seats made from tree branches.
Hot spot: Copernicus Science Centre (http://www.kopernik.org.pl/en/)
Anybody with an interest in science and technology simply has to visit the Copernicus Science Centre. Seven permanent exhibitions as well as the High Voltage Theatre and Robotic Theatre provide interesting insights, stimulating thought and debate and sometimes even encouraging people to get involved. For stargazers, the Copernicus Science Centre is also home to a planetarium.