Warsaw is the capital of Poland and a city that offers more than might initially meet the eye. The main sights are to be found on the western bank of the Wisla River where you will find the central business and shopping district. The more picturesque Old Towne (Stare Miasto) is just to the north. In the central square you can explore the Royal Castle, once the home of the royal family and seat of Polish parliament, and today is a museum with many of the structure’s original furnishings and aristocratic portraits. Also in the town square is St. John’s Cathedral, the oldest in Warsaw. Nearby is the former area of the Jewish Ghetto, in which it is estimated that one-third of Warsaw’s population was crammed from 1939 onwards. The Jewish Cemetery is also located there, as well as the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
The road called Royal Way is lined with historic buildings. One highlight is the Church of the Nuns of the Visitation, one of the few buildings in central Warsaw to come out of the war undamaged. The National Museum houses an extensive collection of medieval, impressionist, and modern art. The rest of the street is taken up by University buildings and fine baroque palaces. The famous Holy Cross Church with its statue of Christ was once an emblem of Warsaw’s suffering, and inside it is rumored there is an urn containing the heart of Chopin. The Wilanow Palace is considered the grandest of Warsaw’s Palaces, known as the “Polish Versailles,” and has exquisite palace gardens as well as a lake where you can take a gondola cruise. The much-loved Lazienki Park was once a hunting ground and today is a beautiful public park with tree-lined walking paths and grounds filled with peacocks.