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City centre - the heart of the capital

The downtown of Warsaw impresses with its metropolitan atmosphere: glass towers, luxurious apartment buildings and busy thoroughfares dominate here. It hides however many more attractions...

Śródmieście
Based in Warsaw, Poland
Śródmieście
Based in Warsaw, Poland

General Info

Enthralling and energetic Warsaw’s city centre can, at first glance, intimidate the first-time visitor with its gridlocked boulevards, ever-present bustle and incoherent tapestry of styles. Adjusting, however, does not take long; walking the busy streets, the big city atmosphere becomes impossible to resist.

Dominated by Stalin’s gift to Poland, the bombastic Palace of Culture & Science, this Gotham-esque tower has been joined now by a fleet of modern skyscrapers to endow the city’s skyline with a striking silhouette.

Reflecting the relentless pace of life, the heart of the city is awash with cultural institutions such as the National Museum and the Zacheta Gallery, whilst side streets buzz with specialty cafes, world class restaurants, upmarket cocktail bars and cosy craft beer dens. This social scene is particularly pronounced just south of Jerozolimskie street where surviving pre-war streets such as the boutique-encrusted Mokotowska give a heavy hint as to why the city was once known as ‘the Paris of the East’.

Yet despite its lively vibe, even in Warsaw’s centre it’s possible to find quiet corners featuring pocket-sized parks and still, silent side streets. To its north, meanwhile, the UNESCO-listed Old Town is an atmospheric counter-balance to the cut-and-thrust of the centre.



Architecture & Property

The centre was largely obliterated as a result of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, and decades of muddled planning have left the area pockmarked with clashing contrasts: Socialist Realist estates such as the MDM; concrete towers from the 60 and 70s; and soaring glass towers that have epitomised the city’s capitalist transformation.

Though most of these high-rises fulfil office duties, two skyscraper projects have been reserved for residential use. Redefining apartment living, Daniel Liebeskind’s Zlota 44 and Helmut Jahn’s Cosmopolitan have become a benchmark in modern luxury and a firm favourite with celebrities, football stars and expats alike.

Despite Warsaw’s wartime trauma, sections of pre-war architecture still exist and that holds especially true in the south-central area where grand tenements on streets like Poznanska, Koszykowa, Wilcza and Mokotowska have been revived to their opulent best. Just further south, intimate, ivy-clad villas are a feature of the sub-district of Filtry.



Architecture & Property

The centre was largely obliterated as a result of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, and decades of muddled planning have left the area pockmarked with clashing contrasts: Socialist Realist estates such as the MDM; concrete towers from the 60 and 70s; and soaring glass towers that have epitomised the city’s capitalist transformation.

Though most of these high-rises fulfil office duties, two skyscraper projects have been reserved for residential use. Redefining apartment living, Daniel Liebeskind’s Zlota 44 and Helmut Jahn’s Cosmopolitan have become a benchmark in modern luxury and a firm favourite with celebrities, football stars and expats alike.

Despite Warsaw’s wartime trauma, sections of pre-war architecture still exist and that holds especially true in the south-central area where grand tenements on streets like Poznanska, Koszykowa, Wilcza and Mokotowska have been revived to their opulent best. Just further south, intimate, ivy-clad villas are a feature of the sub-district of Filtry.



Green & Recreational Areas

Through all the capital city hubbub, Warsaw transpires to be an immensely green city. This holds true even in the centre. Past the embassy-filled mansions on Ujazdowskie avenue find Lazienki Park. A throwback to Poland’s imperial age, its pristine confines are crowded with Greco-Roman follies, wandering peacocks and botanical discoveries. Following this genteel spirit are Ujazdowki Park and Saski Gardens, the latter opening out to face the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. More user-friendly, the vast Śmigłego-Rydza was created after the war with the help of 15,000 school children whilst Pole Mokotowskie has become the de facto favourite of cyclists, picnickers, joggers and dog walkers – a true park for the people.

Amenities & Infrastructure

Seen from the outside as a spectacular glass bubble, the Złote Tarasy mall next to the train station is one of the best retail projects to be found in the country. Vitkac, meanwhile, is the country’s most celebrated luxury department store. Private health clinics also abound, with most providers having at least a token presence in the centre. From an educational point of view, the prestigious Thames British School is easily reached from the centre.

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See more guides for nearby areas:

Żoliborz

Mokotów