I’ve had two days to experience Warsaw and have seen and learned a lot about its history.  Just as most of Berlin was destroyed during WW II, so was Warsaw, but by the Germans.  85% of the city was left in ruins, but soon the residents returned to rebuild.  During the Soviet occupation that followed, the city began to thrive, but the buildings they built were dismal concrete structures.  Since 1989 when Poland became a free nation again, the buildings reflect a much more modern design.  In the photo below, which I took from my hotel window, the Soviet era structure is in the foreground.


This trend toward post-modernism as an expression of the new free Poland was the theme of an exhibit of architectural models at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.  These new innovated structures make a strong statement of Poland’s new nationalistic identity.


Below is a dramatic contrast between a Soviet gift to the city (left,) the Stalin Palace for Science and Culture (now the Warsaw Center for Science and Culture)  and two recently built high-rises (right.)  Finished in 1955, the Soviet building was inspired by American skyscrapers and rises to 42 floors, containing offices of corporations, museums, theaters, cinemas, sport centers, and shops.


Some mansions and palaces were spared by the Germans only because they used them as Nazi administrative and military headquarters and housing.  Here is a photo of the oldest section of the town after the war.


And here is a photo of the same area today.


Not only has the city been rebuilt, there are an incredible number of historic buildings that have been reproduced as they were before the war.  The most ambitious undertaking has been duplicating the buildings in the Old City, including completely replicating the old palace, inside and out. (on right below.) This area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Research in reproducing these historic buildings included the paintings by the nephew of the Italian painter, Cantaletto, who painted scenes of Warsaw in the 18th century.



Many churches have also been completely rebuilt.


In another part of the city there is a large plaza with a statue of Nicholaus Copernicus. Our solar system is depicted on the ground of the plaza with the sun and planets in bronze.


Here is Earth and our moon.


At the Museum of Modern Art I discovered the sculptural work of Maria Bartuszova (1962 – 1996,) a little known Eastern European artist who worked almost exclusively in plaster.  Her forms are very organic. Some seem to pulse with energy while others are fragile crusts.





Last evening, our group broke up into three smaller groups that each visited the home of a Polish family for dinner.  We traveled to a small community outside of Warsaw and my grouped was hosted by Sylvester and Barbara and their family.  Sylvester owns an auto repair garage and Barbara is a seamstress who runs a business with five employees who make garments for pregnant women.  Their daughter, Agatha, has a master’s degree in English and teaches English in a private school while their son, Michael, has an university degree, is fluent in English, and works for the city of Warsaw in crisis management.  His girl friend is getting a degree in civil engineering.  Barbara served us a typical Polish meal of stuffed cabbage, pork loin, beets, potatoes, cucumber salad, cauliflower and broccoli, and a sweet crepe for dessert. Michael poured lots of vodka for whom ever wanted to join him!  It was a delightful evening.



L to R: Sylvester, Barbara, Agatha, Michael with his girl friend

Off to Krakow tomorrow!


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