Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Poland - Warsaw (5)
WARSAW - Dawna Alley in the Old Town.
Sent by Anna, a postcrosser from Poland.
This is from Wikipedia : Warsaw's Old Town (Polish: Stare Miasto, colloquially: Starówka) is the oldest historic district of the city. It is bounded by Wybrzeże Gdańskie, along the bank of the Vistula, and by Grodzka, Mostowa and Podwale Streets. It is one of Warsaw's most prominent tourist attractions.
The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Place, with its restaurants, cafés and shops. Surrounding streets feature medieval architecture such as the city walls, the Barbican and St. John's Cathedral.
Warsaw's Old Town was established in the 13th century. Initially surrounded by an earthwork rampart, prior to 1339 it was fortified with brick city walls. The town originally grew up around the castle of the Dukes of Mazovia that later became the Royal Castle. The Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta) was laid out sometime in the late 13th or early 14th century, along the main road linking the castle with the New Town to the north.
Until 1817 the Old Town's most notable feature was the Town Hall built before 1429. In 1701 the square was rebuilt by Tylman Gamerski, and in 1817 the Town Hall was demolished. Since the 19th century, the four sides of the Market Square have borne the names of four notable Poles who once lived on the respective sides: Ignacy Zakrzewski (south), Hugo Kołłątaj (west), Jan Dekert (north) and Franciszek Brass (east).
In 1918 the Royal Castle once again became the seat of Poland's highest authorities: the President of Poland and his chancellery. In the late 1930s, during the mayoralty of Stefan Starzyński, the municipal authorities began refurbishing the Old Town and restoring it to its former glory. The Barbican and the Old Town Market Place were partly restored. These efforts, however, were brought to an end by the outbreak of World War II.
During the Invasion of Poland (1939), much of the district was badly damaged by the German Luftwaffe, which targeted the city's residential areas and historic landmarks in a campaign of terror bombing. Following the Siege of Warsaw, parts of the Old Town were rebuilt, but immediately after the Warsaw Uprising (August-October 1944) what had been left standing was systematically blown up by the German Army. A statue commemorating the Uprising, "the Little Insurgent," now stands on the Old Town's medieval city wall.
After World War II, the Old Town was meticulously rebuilt. As many of the original bricks were reused as possible. The rubble was sifted for reusable decorative elements, which were reinserted into their original places. Bernardo Bellotto's 18th-century vedute, as well as pre-World-War II architecture students' drawings, were used as essential sources in the reconstruction effort.