On a quick glance, Warsaw’s Old Town looks identical to dozens of medieval old towns in dozens of European cities. It follows the same basic formula: colorful and ornate buildings surrounding a central market, with a maze of narrow cobblestone streets between the buildings. But one thing is very different here, beneath the familiar surface: this old town isn’t really that old.
Warsaw had one of Europe’s most beautiful medieval old towns, but unfortunately World War II left the entire city in shambles after systemic bombing by Germans, and after the war nothing but destruction was left of the old town.
The city hasn’t had an easy history by any means, but today’s Warsaw is a testament to human resilience. After the war, the old town was meticulously reconstructed, even using as much of the original bricks as possible.
Some say this new old town is just a shadow of its former self, a doll house in human scale, but I personally find the area charming and authentic. Yes, most of the buildings were built in the 1950s, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
Nowadays the neighborhood is filled with interesting cafés and bars, bakeries and restaurants as well as shops and galleries. Some streets are unfortunately touristy, but veer away from the main roads and you’ll surely find authentic treasures in this (in)authentic “old” town!
The Old Town Market Place is often crowded with visitors
Karmnik is one of the old town’s best cocktail bars