I come from Warszawa (English name: Warsaw), a city called fondly by its inhabitants Wawa (pronunciation: [vava]). Warsaw is the capital of Poland and a big European city with currently over 1.700,000 inhabitants and over 2.5 million residents in the whole metropolitan area.
The name means "of Warsz" or "belonging to Warsz" ("Warsz" being a male name), and goes back to a late-medieval fishermen's village on the bank of the Vistula river. The symbol of Warsaw is a mermaid, Sawa, who - according to the legend - fell in love with a fisherman (Warsz) and became a woman. In the 15th century, Warsaw became the seat of the Masovian prince, and in the 16th century, the Polish king Sigismund III Vasa with his court moved from Cracow to Warsaw. Malicious Cracowers would say this was because Warsaw is closer to Sigismund's real home, Sweden. Anyway, since then, Warsaw has been a survivor of numerous wars, uprisings, battles, and the like, but also a centre of education, science and culture. It likes jazz (one of the biggest and oldest Europe's jazz festivals: Jazz Jamboree) and Chopin's music (International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition). It is also a home of the University of Warsaw, the biggest and highest-ranked university in Poland, where I started my linguistic journey in the English Department.
During the WW2, over 85% of buildings were destroyed. After the war, the city was rebuilt and many historical buildings painstakingly reconstructed, including the Royal Castle and the whole historic Old Town (now on the UNESCO World's Heritage List). Although the landscape of the districts away from the center is still dominated by prefabricated housing projects of the communist era, the city is changing and growing to make up for the years of architectural negligence. In my opinion, it is really a pleasant city to live in with its broad streets, and lots of parks and greenery anywhere you look. Some, most of them admittedly Warsaw-born, think the city is the most beautiful in the world.
The city features examples of architecture of gothic, renaissance, baroque, neoclassical style but also socialist realism and modern architecture.
Historic Old Town - historic old center of Warsaw; destroyed during WW2 and afterwards meticulously reconstructed - using as many original elements, bricks, decorative details, etc. as possible with the help of 18th century paintings of Bernardo Belotto and pre-war sketches of students of architecture. Nowadays it's lively and colorful, a favorite meeting point for both tourists and Warsaw inhabitants.
Royal Castle and the Royal Castle Square with the characteristic column with the statue of king Sigismund III Vasa on top
Lazienki Palace - the baroque residence of the last king of Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, situated in a beautiful classical garden complex
Wilanow - originally the residence of King Jan III Sobieski (the winner of the battle of Vienna, 1683)
Palace of Culture and Science - a clone of a similar edifice in Moscow, a "gift" of Stalin to the citizens of Warsaw - looks pretty in the fog. Otherwise from floor 30, one can see a panorama of the city:
One of the many sculptures decorating PKiN: it represents a worker holding a jack-hammer AND a book on the lap. Isn't it interesting!
MDM - a square and the surrounding building complex in the style of socialist realism
Kampinos Forest - a national park at the outskirts of Warsaw, a sister park with Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park, Indiana, US. Nearby: Zelazowa Wola, the birth place of Frederic Chopin. The heart of Chopin, following the romantic tradition, was not buried in Paris, where he died, but according to his will, was moved to Warsaw's Holy Cross Church.
Warsaw has been the home town of, among others:
Maria Sklodowska Curie - a Noble Prize winner in physics and chemistry
Krzysztof Kieslowski - the director of "Blue", "Red", "White"
Samuel Goldwyn - the film producer
Benoit Mandelbrot - the mathematician
The city has inspired many songs, here a selection of my favorites:
Czeslaw Niemen: Sen o Warszawie
T Love: Warszawa
Mieczyslaw Fogg: Piosenka o mojej Warszawie
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