Poland’s capital Warsaw has risen from the ashes, but on the other side of the Vistula river still, parts of the old Warsaw can be found. Even the memories of World War II appears on the houses.
In the last 10 years has Warsaw’s city center made a major transformation. Lots of new skyscrapers have risen in the sky, and the previously gray Soviet-houses have been demolished. Banks and other multinational companies have established themselves in the area around the Palace of Culture.
But if you want to experience the old Warsaw, beyond the shiny skyscrapers, where do you go then?
To Praga of course! Take a walk, where the buildings still bear scars from the horrors of World War II.
Praga is today a part of the downtown district of Warsaw. It’s is a large area but still accessible by foot. From Warsaw’s tourist magnets is Praga towards the east, and is accessed through many of the bridges that connect the district.
The first thing that you notice is the facades that are nowhere near as well-polished as the others in the center. The facades here have obvious traces of intense fighting during World War II. Praga was the only part of Warsaw that wasn’t completely destroyed. Most other districts consisted only of ruins after the war.
Until 1791 Praga was a separate city opposite the old town of Warsaw. Praga which mostly consisted of wooden houses was burned down frequently or destroyed by enemy armies. Because of this, there are no really old buildings preserved. Praga had for a long the role of a sleepy suburb of Warsaw. So it remained until after World War II when the rest of Warsaw consisted of rubble. Much of the city administration was handled here until the rest of Warsaw was rebuilt.
Is Praga Safe?
First of all, countries in Eastern Europe are generally very safe.
Praga had during the late 1900s a bad reputation. Run-down houses, addicts, and poverty. Praga is still regarded as Warsaw’s’ wild district”, but it’s more an image to attract visitors to the many bars and clubs. Today is Praga not more dangerous than other places in Warsaw.
Shopping in Praga
Europe’s largest flea market existed previously behind the Dziesieciolecia Stadium. During that time, it was possible to buy everything from clothes to gadgets. Since the year 2008 when Warsaw began the construction of the stadium for the European Football Championship 2012, the market size decreased drastically. By locals, the market has the nickname “Russian market”.
You should instead nowadays target the market Różycki Bazaar, located on ul. Targowa 54. This was until 1989 the most popular market in Warsaw. During periods of German and Soviet occupation, it was here that the population could deal with prohibited goods. Since the repression eased in 1989, the market has lost its popularity and is now a place where inhabitants of Warsaw buy clothing at very cheap prices.
Other Sights in Praga
- In Praski Park are bears. Often, the bears are staying here while awaiting relocation to another zoo. Currently live three bears here.
- Katedra Św. Michała Archanioła in the SW. Floriana is the gigantic cathedral built in the Gothic style. The towers are visible from Warsaw old town.
- The tourist information office is located at ul. Ząbkowska 27/31.
- Soviet war memorial, in memory of “the liberation of Warsaw”.
- And the most important; The buildings. Cosy worn, historically important memories. In the shabby houses, you can find great restaurants, bars, and shops.