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Historical Reference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.

Ms. [Ms.|Mme.|Sra.] Hanna Gronkiewicz – Waltz

Mayor of Warsaw

Ms. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz
Mayor
City of Warsaw
Pl. Bankowy 3/5 room 129
00-950 Warsaw, Poland
Tel:
(+48 22) 443 10 00, 44310 01
Fax:
(+48 22) 443 10 02
Email:
sekretariatprezydenta@um.warszawa.pl
Mr. Michal Olszewski
Deputy Mayor of Warsaw
City of Warsaw
pl. Bankowy 3/5
00-950 Warsaw, Poland
Tel:
+48 22 443 10 17/18
Fax:
+48 22 443 99 21
Email:
sekretariatzastepcy@um.warszawa.pl
Ms. Anna Zasadzinska
Head of Heritage Interpretation Center
Museum of Warsaw Commissionner for UNESCO World Heritage
11/13 Brzozowa street
00-258 Warsaw, Poland
Tel:
+48 695 645 095
Fax:
+48 22 831 94 91
Email:
anna.zasadzinska@muzeumwarszawy.pl
Warsaw: City Walls and the Barbican
Warsaw: Plac Zamkowy ( Royal square)
Warsaw: Lighting project of illuminating the walls of Historic Center
Warsaw: Lighting project of illuminating the walls of Historic Center
Warsaw: Lighting project of illuminating the walls of Historic Center
Warsaw: Lighting project of illuminating the walls of Historic Center
Warsaw: Lighting project of illuminating the walls of Historic Center
Warsaw: Lighting project of illuminating the walls of Historic Center
Warsaw: Lighting project of illuminating the walls of Historic Center
Literally OWHC 2013: copyright Bartosz Flisek (1)
Warsaw: Krakowskie Przedmiescie St
Warsaw: Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street
Warsaw: Krakowskie Przedmieście
Warsaw: Old Town
Warsaw: Old Town Square
Warsaw: The Historical Museum of Warsaw  The Old Town Square
Warsaw: The City Walls . The Old Town
Warsaw: Old Town
Warsaw: Dziewoje ( Mural paintings “Girls” painted in 1929 by Z. Stryjenska, incorporated in the reconstructed building)
Warsaw: Detail of the pedestal defining  the Warsaw WHS boundaries
Warsaw: Krakowskie Przedmiescie St and St Anne's Church
Warsaw: Nowy Swiat Street
Warsaw: The Barbican and the City Walls
Warsaw: Old Town St. John's Cathedral
Warsaw: Old Town and  the City Walls
Warsaw: Air Panorama
Warsaw: Old Town