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A brief tour to discover the best face of the capital of Poland

Walking about the old city and plunging in the magic atmosphere of the past thanks to an amazing reconstruction which took place in the fifties and which brought to life again the Warsaw of the XVII and XVIII centuries.

  Your tour should begin from Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy) which, drawing the boundary between the chaotic traffic area of Warsaw and its pedestrian area, draws also the boundary between the XX century and the fascination of the past centuries.
In the centre of the square there is "King Sigismund's Column" (Kolumna Zygmunta) built in 1644 in Sigismund III Vasa's honour, the king of Poland and Sweden who, at the beginning of the XVII century, transferred the capital of the country from Cracow to Warsaw.

The square took its present shape in the XIX century when the fortified city walls were demolished; on its left you can see the remains of the city walls, some of them dating back to the XIV century.
  The Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski),whose history dates back to the XIV century, rises on the east side of the square. It was a wooden stronghold built by the Dukes of Mazovia, later rebuilt in brick. During the centuries the Castle was used as seat of kings, of the Sejm and was also used by Tsars. In 1918 it became the residence of the President of the Republic. Completely destroyed by the Nazis after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, it is now, after the magnificent reconstruction in the seventies, a museum open to the public with guided tour in English too.

In its sumptuous neo-classic rooms, work also of the architect Domenico Merlini (1690-1761), who greatly helped to spread Neo-classicism in Poland, you can find astonishing artistic collections: on the first floor, besides the Royal apartments, you shouldn't miss to see the "Canaletto Room" with 23 views of Warsaw by Bernardo Bellotto known as Il Canaletto, nephew and pupil of the great Canaletto (1721-1780).These paintings, which illustrate with full details the architecture of the Warsaw of those days, have been of great help for the reconstruction of the old city. You can go on to the Throne Room and the magnificent Knight's Hall with the large paintings by Marcello Bacciarelli, to the Marble Room and its 22 portraits of Polish kings, to the impressive Ballroom; you can admire the miniatures of Lucas Cranach the younger's studio, Brussels' tapestry based on cartoons by Coeckevan Aelst, Urbino ceramics, the paintings by Jan Matejko; you can look at the Parliament Rooms, illustrating the development of the Polish democracy.

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