Sródmiescie (downtown)

Sródmiescie is the name of the inner city/downtown area. The absolute city center, where most of all the modern skyscrapers are, is sometimes called Centrum. Brand new glass towers hosting international companies, 5 star hotels, glamorous shopping center are standing next to worn grey highrises built under the Soviet communist regime. There are some really large and trafficated avenues in Sródmiescie, Marszalkowska is perhaps the most busy of them. Most buildings are centered around the Palace of Culture and Science from 1955, and since then there have been a tradition of building tall in the city center. However, it was not until the late 1990s that Warsaw really became a city full of skyscrapers, designed by famous architects. In contrast to the quarters around "The Palace" , the beautiful east part of Sródmiescie, around the university, is filled with historical pedestrian streets and much smaller and older buildings.

Our first view of the modern city center after getting of the bus, right next to the central station (SkyLight/Golden Terraces to the left and Palace of Culture and Science to the right). It was very impressive to see such a large number of tall and large buildings right in the city center of a European city!

Oxford Tower (or The Elektrim) was built in 1979 and was the first really tall modern skyscraper in Warsaw.

...and its twin tower, the Marriott Hotel/Centrum LIM building. Both are 140m tall to the roof (not including the antennas) and have 42 and 43 floors each. Marriott was built 10 years later, in 1989.

The building with the Mercedes sign on the top is called the Ilmet (95m) and the building to the right is the new Rondo 1 Budynek B.

Palace of Culture and Science is Poland's tallest building with its 43 floors and 231m to the top of the spire and 188m to the roof (however, Warsaw Trade Center has a taller roof height). It was gift from Stalin, completed in 1955 in the same Gothic style as the 7 towers of Moscow, also built by the Communism regime. Many Varsovaians hate the building, and I can really understand this, since it reminds them of the past. But, as a foreigner, I think the building is a true beauty and hope it will symbolize something positive in the future.

The Palace of Culture and Science, Poland's tallest building to the top of the spire until 2010, when the 258m tall Sky Tower will be completed in Wroclaw. It was the tallest building in central Europe when it was completed in 1955. There have even been plans to tear it down, but that seems impossible.

The building was built as an agreement between the USSR and Poland in 1952. The Soviet authorities planned a university like Moscow State University (that is one of 8 towers in Moscow that has similarities to this building), but the Polish wanted a center for culture and science. There are more than 550 sculptures that decorate the buildng. At first, when the building just had opened, only people with a special pass were allowed to enter the building. That made a lot of myths an rumours occur. The clock was exposed on all sides as late as in 2000, making it the 2nd tallest clock tower in the world. There are 3 288 rooms inside the building. In the building's Congress Hall Eric Clapton, Rolling Stone and Marlene Dietrich have entertained.

The observation deck is located on the 30th floor, and of course we visited it to see and take photos of Warsaw's skyline from above. The photos can be seen in the skylines section.

"The Palace" is massive and it takes a lot of time to walk around the entire block. It has several entrances and it was hard to find the right one, that lead to the observation deck on the 30th floor.

Most of the tallest buildings are really clustered together in a small area. View from the busy Marszalkowska.

"The Palace" and its much newer "cousins".

Novotel, at Rondo Dmowskiego, was, at a height of 111m, the first modern highrise built in Warsaw after "the palace". It was completed in 1974 and has 33 floors.

In Warsaw's city center, there are even more advertizing than in most American cities and the signs are really large, and sometimes crazy.

Like this, for example, for the Danish beer Carlsberg during the Euro 2008 football game. It is actually real persons that are hired to play football about 10 floors above the ground!

Zlote Tarasy, or Golden Terraces in English, is a brand new (2007) spectacular shopping, office and entertainment complex with a curved glass roof and a 26-storey office building called SkyLight.

In front of the entrance in the curved glass roof, there are terraces with "hanging gardens".

The office highrise belonging to Golden Terraces, seen from shopping center below the spectacular curved glass roof.

Zlote Tarasy represents the new face of the Polish capitalism. It has some largest cinemas.The mall hosts 200 stores, restaurants and a multiplex cinema. The complex's Burger King was the company's second attempt to etablish in Poland.

The roof also looks very cool from the inside. The complex was designed by David Rogers.

Golden Terraces has many expensive brand stores.

This large guitar sign belongs to Hard Rock Café inside Zlote Tarasy, the first in Poland.

Streetscapes of downtown Warsaw: Golden Terraces, Marriott, Oxford Tower and a light.

Polonia Palace Hotel. A 4 star hotel located in a beautiful building from 1913. The disturbing commercials around it, will probably disappear when the buildings have finished renovation.

The skyline seen from the space between "The Palace" and Golden Terraces.

Warsaw Central Station. This station is were we captured the train to Krakow and it is situated right next to "The Palace". It was built in the 70s and is filled with tunnels 8 tracks underground and the metro. In the tunnels, homeless people and beggars are hanging around, so it is not the nicest place to be.

Marriott is just next to the station.

The twin towers and ORCO tower behind the tram line.

Here with Golden Terraces too.

The Shanghai of Europe? That was what I was thinking when seeing this mix of huge advetizing signs, heavy traffic, commie blocks, modern office buildigns and old buildings, at the intersection of Marszalkowka and Swietokrzsyska, 2 of the largest roads in central Warsaw, just 2 small blocks from our hostel.

The view from our hotel room, at Oki Doki, at Pl. Dabrowskiego; "The Palace" and a tall commie highrise.

Hotel Inter-Continental (with Golden Terraces in the background) is 164m tall and has 48 floors. It was built in 2003 with a striking design by Tadeusz Spychala and is Warsaw's tallest hotel. It has a spectatcular swimming pool on the 46th floor.

InterContinental from below. The "hole" through the building was made because people complained about the building blocking their view. The building has currently the record of largest number of floors in Poland.

Contrasts: One of the old buses from before the fall of the Communism in front a grey building from the same era and modern glass buildings in international style.

Rondo 1 Budynek B.

Warsaw Financial Center is the 5th tallest building in Warsaw (2008). It is 144m tall to the roof and has 32 floors.

The main entrance to Palac Kultury i NaukiMlodziezy, that is the Polish name of Palace of Culture and Science. You can see both Gothic and neo-Classical elements in the building.

Its columns are massive. You can see the InterContinental between them.

Details of Palac Mlodziezy.

Some parts of downtown has a suburban feel to it. It also remind a bit of American downtown cores with huge parking lots, supermarkets and skyscrapers.

The beautiful interior of "The Palace" with its impressive marble and chandeliers.

There was a somewhat spooky feeling in the large rooms inside the building considering the architecture and that there were almost no visitors, only stiff guards, that felt very strange considering being inside Warsaw's most famous building in June. It was very hard to find the way to the elevator that lead to the observation deck, and the place where we had to put our bags; no signs and no staff that wanted to tell us how to get to the observation deck. It is very easy to get lost in the building!

An impressive painting of Warsaw's skyline in the lobby of "The Palace".

The beautiful red and white room where we waited for the elevator that we thought should take us down, but brought us to the floor were there was a museum about Einstein.

A typical Varsovian parking. If there is space, people will park their cars there! In the background is Galeria Centrum, that we went to a couple of times. Even if the interior and the merchandise were modern, it was like a reconstructed shopping center of the old times -mostly because there were only one store on each floor (totally 34 stores).

The intersection of Marszalkowka and Swietokrzsyska again.

E.Plater to the west of "The Palace". From the right: Rondo 1, Warsaw Financial Center and InterContinental.

A tram station at Marszalkowska.

Another square in the city center. Note teh trams, the advertizing sign and the beautiful white church in the background.

Beautiful buildings in the quarters near Lazienkowsky Park, where many embassies are located.

Blue Tower from 1991 is situated on the border to the Old Town.. It has 25 floors and is 100m to the roof.

The border between the Old Town and New Town with Blue Tower in the background. The female sculpture is Nike, a memorial for the heroes that died for Warsaw.
At first I thought it was Syrena, the mermaid that is Warsaw's city symbol.

The qurters around our hotel in Centrum.

The night skyline of Warsaw. The tall buildings have been presented before.

National Museum (Muzeum Narodowe). It was estabilshed in 1862. We visited the museum, were many famous painting are placed. It has an impressive architecture inside.

The large Battle of Grunwald by Jan Matejko is one of the most famous paintings, and probably the largest, in National Museum.

Christian sculptures at National Museum.

Muzeum Wojska Polskiego, Polish Military Museum, was originally a part of the National Museum. We didn't go inside, but looked at the vehicles in front of the building that have been in use during the World War 2.

Helicopters and airplanes from WW2 are also placed in front of the Military Museum.