Saski Park in Warsaw, Poland (Thanasis Dimopoulos)

Mermaid city symbol in Old Town Square, Warsaw, Poland (Polish National Tourist Office/Reinhard Albers)

Grand Theatre, National Opera House, Warsaw, Poland (Polish National Tourist Office/Reinhard Albers)

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What to do in Warsaw

Like many Eastern European cities now free from the Iron Curtain, Warsaw is on a serious upswing. The skyline of the Polish capital, once dominated by stark Stalinist structures, now includes a handful of modern skyscrapers, and the city has become a booming cultural and commercial center. But Warsaw’s Old Town, with cobblestone streets, Gothic architecture, and a central market, still has remnants of Warsaw’s past. That anything remains at all is impressive: 85 percent of Warsaw—and specifically its historic landmarks—was systematically destroyed during World War II by the invading Germans. Afterward, the Old Town—from the Royal Castle to the Old City walls—was meticulously rebuilt brick by brick in an incredible display of solidarity by the city’s inhabitants, earning it a designation as one of UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage Sites.

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