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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » October 27, 2011
Destination Warsaw
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Feeling Like a King
October 27, 2011   
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There isn’t a foreigner or a local who hasn’t walked on at least part of the Royal Route that leads to the Old Town. This is Warsaw’s calling card; it can be found on postcards and in every coffee-table book about Warsaw. The Royal Route owes its name to the fact that it links various Warsaw residences of Polish kings since the 17th century. It stretches from the Old Town’s Castle Square, where the kings had their main residence, to the Wilanów Palace, to which they retired in summer, via the Ujazdów hunting palace and the impressive Łazienki Park with the Palace on the Water.

Along the Royal Route, Krakowskie Przedmieście Street is one of Warsaw’s main thoroughfares that goes back to the 16th century, when King Sigismund III Vasa moved the royal seat and capital from Cracow to Warsaw. At the time many aristocrats wanted to establish their residences along the street to be near the king.

Today, the boulevard is lined with the Presidential Palace, University of Warsaw buildings and several historic churches and manor houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. It also houses the prestigious Bristol Hotel, many boutique hotels and the recently closed Europejski Hotel.

Nowy Świat Street is an extension of Krakowskie Przedmieście, and also dates back to the mid-17th century. Some call it Warsaw’s Champs-Élysées. It was razed to the ground during World War II and like the Old Town was reconstructed after the war. Today, with its 19th-century neo-classical appearance, the long avenue is lined with boutiques, cafés and restaurants. A number of personalities from the Polish art and literary world lived here, among them Polish-born writer Joseph Conrad.

Whether you want to hear an open-air concert, have a meal or a beer, buy some fine art or interesting souvenirs, this part of the Royal Route is for you. In the Old Town, and then along Krakowskie Przedmieście and Nowy Świat streets, restaurants serve a variety of cuisines from traditional Polish specialties to international, including fusion, Thai and Indian. Poland prides itself on cakes and pastries produced by family businesses, including the historic Blikle on Nowy Świat. Here among art galleries and boutiques you can also find Irish pubs, beer gardens and clubs.

If you haven’t been along at least the first leg of the Royal Route and the Old Town, you haven’t been to Warsaw.

Jolanta Wolska
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