As the capital of Poland, Warsaw was one of the most beautiful and sophisticated cities in central Europe until it was almost destroyed during the Nazi occupation of World War II. The end of the war saw most of the city reduced to ruins, and large swathes of the population killed or interred in concentration camps. Following this, the buildings in the heart of the old city were meticulously restored during its major rejuvenation project.
Warsaw is divided into two distinct halves by the Vistula River, with the Old Town, the modern city centre, and most of the tourist attractions on the western side. The eastern side of the river comprises mostly uninteresting residential suburbs and business districts.
Today, Warsaw presents a modern urban landscape of high-rise buildings, and the years of communist rule have left an uninspiring architectural legacy of drab concrete structures and uniform prefab-style housing.
Although many people give scant regard to Warsaw as an appealing tourist destination, it is still Poland's largest city and the political, economic, scientific, and cultural hub of the country. It has many museums and historical monuments, galleries, and historic attractions, a variety of restaurants and open-air cafes, and an energetic nightlife.
With green open spaces and classical music concerts, this modern, bustling city is a far cry from the severe communist-era images of post-war Warsaw, which still dominate the global imagination. Visitors to Warsaw will find a resilient and captivating city with lots to offer.