The main sight in Warsaw may be the rebuilt old historic centre, but it is a good idea to expand your vision of this city when exploring it. One unexpected but worthy destination is Praga, where I was advised to go by a local who told me there would be a street festival. So I crossed the Slasko Dabrowski bridge connecting both parts of Warsaw, and walked to the other side of the Vistula river. Behind me, from the west, an almost black sky approached me, through which the sun sometimes cast its ray on the landscape around me. It resulted in fantastic rainbows over Praga.
Praga differs from most of Warsaw in that destruction in World War II was less here, allowing you to actually see buildings older than 1945. Under Communist rule, problematic people like alcoholics and former convicts were sent to Praga, and the area used to have a bad reputation. But as happens more often, those places have a potential of revival and change, often attracting creative minds and imaginative people. When I came off the bridge, my first impression was that I had just entered a well-kept suburb: clean, well-maintained apartment blocks lined the streets, where I also found the Florian Cathedral and the unique St. Mary Magdalene's orthodox church. Walking on, I ended up on Wilenski square, the local transportation hub, but also giving an insight in the neighbourhood. Here, you can see an impressive war monument, an uninspiring but characteristic 1950s apartment block, the domes and golden crosses of the orthodox church, and a modern French hyperstore at the same time.
Crossing the street, I headed for Zabkowska street, where the atmosphere changed completely. This is where the festival was being held, where I found wall paintings, kids playing on the street, fancy bars, one with an enormous spider on the wall, Poles drinking beer in their window, and at the end, an open-air stage with a musical performance on the street. I turned the corner and entered Brzeska street, which was lively in yet another way. Car-free at least for the day, people took an afternoon stroll, teenagers were decorating a wall with graffiti, couples were dancing tango on a stage, and the warm sunlight made the run down buildings take on a charm all their own. Combined with the atmosphere emanating from the people around here, it felt like a powerful experience, with creativity, joy of life, and progressive people looking towards the future.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Praga district (Poland). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Praga district. Read more about this site.