Best Polish Castle and Sites to See in Warsaw
When I went to Poland, the grand castles surprised me. Polish castles became one of my favorite Polish destinations. In all of Poland, there is a lot to see. Most of what I saw was dark, related to World War II or the Jewish holocaust. I felt dark and depressed after going to Krakow and Warsaw. However, The Royal castle in Warsaw renewed my faith in humanity.
The Royal Castle – The Best Polish Castle
I enjoyed every minute of my tour. Best of all, I could walk into all the rooms of the castle at my own pace and spent as much time as needed. Polish castles are as grand as those in Germany, smaller than the Austrian castles and as beautiful as Italian castles. Polish castles are equal to any palace in the world. Warsaw almost wasn’t rebuilt. But consider this, the communists didn’t and couldn’t destroy The Royal Castle. It shows us how much the Polish people love the Royal Castle.
My Favorite Rooms of The Royal Castle
Below, the grand receiving hall looks like it’s from a fairy tale. Here is where the Polish kings and queens greeted state guests. The elegant influence of the Hapsburgs influenced the court and castle. Polish castles are more comparable to the Austrian castles in size. This is probably because the communists did a better job destroying castles in other areas that they occupied.
A Brief History
Back in the fourteenth century, the Great Tower erection is the birthdate of the castle. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the castle underwent large-scale expansion during the reign of Sigismund III Vasa. This castle was a royal residence, the place where parliamentary deliberated and it housed the administrative offices of culture and art. Then it was destroyed in the middle of the seventeenth century during the Swedish Wars. The second half of the eighteenth century, the interiors of the chambers, comprising the Great Apartment and the King’s Apartment were reconstructed. The elegance and state of design are from the Hapsburg influence.
In the nineteenth century, a significant part of the art collections of the last Polish king ended up in Russia. After Poland’s independence, some of the original works of art found its way back to the castle. In September 1939, the Germans bombed the palace. Some art lovers saved elements of the interiors and the art masterpieces. September 1944 the Castle was blown up by the Germany army. This is how Warsaw looked after Germany bombed the city.
Between 1945-1970, the Communist authorities delayed deciding on whether to rebuild the Castle. I share this story because of destruction and rebirth because no matter how governments changed, the Polish people loved the Royal Castle. Nowadays, Polish school children take field trips to the Museum in October. The polish children added to my experience. They are well behaved, soft-spoken, respectful and won’t interfere with your visit.
On the ground floor, you may see a Rembrandt if it is not on tour. When I went, I saw two of his masterpieces. Unbelievable as it sounds, I could stand a foot away from them both. Guards on the other side of the room watched me with little interest. Watch and admiring them, I spent a crazy amount of time soaking in his technique and beauty of his works. Rembrandt’s are indescribable. I took photos of other masterpieces shown below. Every room, filled with classic works of art delighted me. There was even a room that displayed the artist oil paint pigments, an artist paint box, and brushes that artists used.
Warsaw on a Hill
One of the grandest parts of the Castle is the front that looks out from the old town, peacefully guarding the UNESCO World Heritage Center and looking down on modern Warsaw. The grand facade makes the Royal Castle appear to be bigger than it is. However, the Royal Castle is almost as big as the Hapsburg Palaces of Vienna.
Historic Coats of Arms
If you are a war buff, in this Polish Castle, the arms of the Kings and the kingdom displayed in this formal room will delight you. Porcelain statues adorn the walls.
Polish Dining Near The Royal Castle
After visiting the Royal Castle, treat your self to an excellent meal at a real polish restaurant.
After visiting the castle, we went to U Fukiera. This restaurant owner is a Polish celebrity chef, Magda Gessler. She has a T.V. program called Revolutions in Kitchen. The show takes under-performing restaurants, who have invited her to do a restaurant do-over, and she miraculously transforms them into new improved versions. This was a great dining experience. I hope the photos capture how much fun we had. My friend Laura (from Switzerland) and I went to the restaurant. We order as much as we could eat. We sampled everything that was uniquely Polish and loved the boar and fabulous soups and salads. It cost about $50/person. I don’t think I have ever eaten so much rich, perfectly prepared food. Here is a link to U Fukiera’s menu.
Restaurant Plac Zamkowy
Warsaw Coffee Club
If you want to go to a cafe with authentic Polish food that is fun and in a hip urban cafe design, try the Warsaw Cafe. Great for evening drinks and music, and it has excellent pastries too! (Full disclosure, Beata Garbacz and I became friends. We are still friends today. I ate there so many times. Eventually, I became a fixture at my private table.) I’m sure someday Beata will be a celebrity chef too.
Where to Stay
We were glad we stayed in the UNESCO City Center to dine at an establishment that has been there for more than 25 years. It’s a great place for solo travelers who want an elegant meal. Guests are always shown hospitality and a warm welcome. Trust me when I say, a king or queen couldn’t get better treatment. I am thrilled I got to visit, and Laura made it tons of fun to share the laughs and good times with her. We treated ourselves like royalty at the Polish castle, the restaurant and a lemon vodka nightcap that cost $1. Throughout Warsaw, the people were terrific, friendly, and generous. I loved Poland, even with the dark history lessons.
Travel tip: In case you want to take my trip here is my Germany, Austria, Hungry, Poland Itinerary. Use any part of it to adapt it to the time you have for your holiday, vacation or work side trip.
If you are wondering why I went to Poland, please read about my amazing adventure and the background for this trip. I searched for my family roots and discovered more than I expected.
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