Warsaw, Poland

General Information

Administrative status

National capital and chief city of the provincial capital.

Historic Centre of Warsaw

Registration Year

1980

Historical reference

Politics and administration.

Location and site

Warsaw is located in the heart of the North European plains on a well-drained terrace of the Vistula River. Downriver from Kraków, it represents an ideal crossing site.

Urban morphology

The historic centre of Warsaw is located close to the river. It is organised around the market square, known as Rynek Starego Miasta, which is square in form. For the most part, the streets are laid out according to a rectilinear grid. As they extend outwards from the centre, they become wider. The regularity of the plan is gradually dismantled. Large squares open up long perspective views.

The facades of the dwellings, originally constructed between the 16th and the 18th centuries, provide the historic centre of Warsaw with decorative streetscapes. Embellished with frescoes and stone gates, they line the market place. In the vicinity of this square is another row of houses with facades decorated with vaults and stone porches. At the edge of the old city, near the castle, a series of small coloured houses is integrated into the urban fabric. Besides the royal castle (Zamek) overlooking the city, other monuments make up the reconstructed ensemble, bringing together Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. The city is bordered with green space near the castle and along the Vistula River.

Registration criteria

Warsaw is “associated with events of considerable historic significance.” Annihilated and reconstructed “so that it is identical to the original,” it “symbolizes the will to insure the survival of one of the prime settings of Polish culture and illustrates, in an exemplary fashion, the efficiency of the restoration techniques of the second half of the 20th century. […]” (VI) “The reconstruction of the historic centre of Warsaw has exercised a considerable influence, in the majority of European countries, on the evolution of doctrines of urbanization and the preservation of old city quarters.” (II) “Its authenticity is associated with this unique realization of the years 1945 to 1966.” (IV)

Historical reference

  • Warsaw was founded in 1280 by the dukes of Mazovia. They erected a castle so that they could control passage on the Vistula River; this marked the beginning of the development of Warsaw, which became the capital of the Duchy of Mazovia in 1344.
  • In the 15th century, the Dukes established their residence in Warsaw. The city’s political role became more important as its functions multiplied. In 1596, the seat of the King of Poland was transferred from Kraków to Warsaw. A period of prosperity and intense architectural activity followed.
  • The city was destroyed by the Swedes and reconstructed twice, in 1656 and in 1702. At the end of the 18th century, it was one of the largest cities in Europe.
  • Following the Second World War, during which 85 per cent of Warsaw was destroyed by the Nazi troops, and the insurrection of August 1944, the reconstruction of the city was willfully undertaken. By 1966, all of the monuments of the old city were re-erected according to their appearance between the 14th and 18th centuries.

Photos

News

19 November 2015


Warsaw awards prize for OWHC Youth Video Competition

Warsaw, Poland

Northwest Europe and North America

16 September 2015


Warsaw celebrates Solidarity Day of WH cities

Warsaw, Poland

Northwest Europe and North America

23 February 2015


Museum of Warsaw – gem of the Old Town

Warsaw, Poland

Northwest Europe and North America

13 December 2012


Warsaw

Warsaw, Poland

Northwest Europe and North America


Contact

Ms. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz

Mayor
City of Warsaw

Pl. Bankowy 3/5 room 129
Warsaw, Poland

(+48 22) 443 10 00, 44310 01
sekretariatprezydenta@um.warszawa.pl

Ms. Anna Zasadzinska

Head of Heritage Interpretation Center
Museum of Warsaw Commissionner for UNESCO World Heritage

11/13 Brzozowa street
Warsaw, Poland

+48 695 645 095
anna.zasadzinska@muzeumwarszawy.pl

Mr. Michal Olszewski

Deputy Mayor of Warsaw
City of Warsaw

pl. Bankowy 3/5
Warsaw, Poland

+48 22 443 10 17/18
sekretariatzastepcy@um.warszawa.pl