Warsaw is the capital of Poland and in the county (województwo) Masovia (Mazowieckie), on the river Wisła. In 2018, the city had 1,764,615 residents.
Warsaw has large and multifaceted industry, especially located on the right bank of Praga, and the newer industrial areas such as Zerań in the northeast (automotive and mechanical industry), Młociny in the northwest (steelworks) and Słuzéwiec in the southwest (light industry). Otherwise, there are electrical, pharmaceutical, textile and food and beverage industries. The city holds most of the country’s publishers. The Warsaw area is known for its highly specialized horticulture. The capital is also a center for companies working in research and development.
Overall, Warsaw is the largest economic and financial center in the new EU countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Here is also the largest stock exchange. About 70 per cent of employees work in service industries, especially in banking and finance. In 2012, the capital contributed about 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and GDP per capita was three times higher than the average in Poland. The average income in Warsaw was well over 20 per cent higher than the national average (1243 against 1002 euros per month).
Public institutions, culture and more
In 1596, King Sigismund III moved the capital of Poland from Krakow to Warsaw, after the city had become the seat of the country’s parliament in 1569 (Sejm). The capital is a leading cultural center with a university from 1816, a technical college, agricultural college and other colleges and academies. The university is the country’s largest with 51,700 students and 7,100 employees.
In the city there are many museums and theaters, opera, zoological and botanical gardens. Warsaw is the seat of Roman Catholic Archbishop and Greek Orthodox metropolitan. There is a Norwegian embassy in the city.
Over 70 percent of Warsaw was destroyed in the years 1939-1944. The old town was completely demolished, but has been rebuilt after World War II on the basis of old paintings, photographs and the like. After the reconstruction, the old town in 1980 was listed on UNESCO’s List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
In light of the devastation during the war, the city has few old buildings, but emphasis has been placed on recreating buildings and lots of particularly architectural value. The old town is on the slope up from the river, separated from the “new town” further south, by the royal palace built from the 16th century onwards and where the kings of Poland resided from 1596 to 1795. The castle signed Europe’s first constitution in 1791. After World War II the castle was rebuilt in the period 1971–1988. In the castle square stands the Sigismund pillar, which was erected in 1644 in memory of King Sigismund III Vasa. The pillar was destroyed during the war and rebuilt in 1949. The old town grew up by the old square in the shelter of the castle. At the square there is a city history museum. Northeast of the Old Town became the Memorial of the Warsaw Uprising in August / September 1944 erected in 1989.
Between the square and the castle lies the Gothic Jan Cathedral from the 1300s. In this cathedral, Poland’s last king, Stanisław II Augustus Poniatowski (reign 1764-1795), was crowned. In the southernmost part of the old town, the main arteries of the east-west axis cross the corresponding north-south axis: the old main street Krakówskie Przedmieście, which continues further south in Nowy Świat (the New World), formerly edged by baroque noble palaces. Southeast of this, in Centralny Park Kultury, is the Sejm Parliament Building and the Party House, to the west the dominant Cultural Palace. This palace, built between 1952 and 1955, was a gift from Stalin.It is a giant building that, with its tower, reaches 234 meters and is built in typical Soviet style. Until 1957, the palace was the tallest building in Europe. Here are congress and concert halls and more. Notable buildings include the Namiestnikowi Palace, which is the President’s Office, the palace by the water in ienazienki Park, the Royal Summer Residence and the Ujazdowi Palace, which is now a museum of contemporary art, also the Royal Residence.
About the Jewish ghetto, see Warsaw history. To the south of Warsaw is Wilanów, where King Jan III Sobieski (reign of 1674–1696) had a summer residence. This castle is one of the most beautiful examples of Baroque architecture in Europe.
Warsaw is an important traffic hub with good road and rail links, river port and international airport, Warsaw Airport Chopin. The airport is located 11 kilometers southwest of the city center. Warsaw has five railway stations, tram and metro, which opened in 1995.