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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » October 26, 2012
Destination Warsaw
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Bohemian Praga
October 26, 2012   
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Unique, intriguing and authentic—Praga is all these things and more. Its history goes back over 500 years. For centuries Praga was a separate city. It became part of Warsaw in 1791. It is located directly across the Vistula river from Warsaw’s Old Town and has the oldest prewar buildings in the city. Many call Praga the Brooklyn of Warsaw. The district is located on the right bank of the Vistula and, unlike the remaining part of Warsaw, it was not destroyed by the Germans during World War II.

Praga is at the same time rough and traditional, modern and trendy. Its rundown bohemian charm has attracted many galleries, artists and designers who like the old factory buildings and tenement houses. Today, Praga is witnessing the dynamic development of alternative cultural centers and is being compared to Kreuzberg in Berlin, Montmartre in Paris and SoHo in New York. The industrial spaces of former factories have been transformed into hubs of cultural life. The late-19th-century red brick complex of the former Koneser Vodka Distillery (pictured) is now home to cultural institutions, a venue for concerts, art performances and exhibitions. The Rubber Plant Factory on Otwocka Street has been transformed into the Fabryka Trzciny Art Center, whereas the former furniture warehouses have been converted into ateliers, art galleries, bars and clubs. The area around 11-go listopada, Inżynierska and Z±bkowska streets, with clubs, galleries, theaters, restaurants and cafés, is the city’s coolest hangout.

Skaryszewski Park in the Praga district is one of Poland’s most beautiful historical parks. With a total area of 58 hectares it is adjacent to the new National Stadium. The park has an interesting layout, a rose garden, picturesque artificial lakes, a waterfall, as well as rich and beautiful flora with over 280 species of trees and shrubs. There are many attractions: open-air film screenings and concerts are held here, you can rent a canoe, a pedalo or a boat by the Kamionkowskie Lake, and there are paths for cyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians.

Other must-see attractions in the district include the zoo, with over 4,000 animal species. You can learn about the true story about zoo director Jan Zabiński and his family who, during WW II, hid more than 200 Jews from the Germans at the zoo. The banks of the Vistula give a fantastic view of downtown Warsaw and there are sandy patches of beach off the Wał Miedzeszyński, while La Playa bar at Wybrzeże Helskie has great beer, barbecues, volleyball and dance music at the weekend. A recent addition to the area and the skyline is the Orange Balloon Station, which is drawing crowds to view Warsaw from 170 meters up in the sky.

Jolanta Wolska
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