Travel Guide: History of Warsaw Poland
The first fortified settlements on the site of today's Warsaw were
Bródno (9th/10th century) and Jazdów (12th/13th century). After
Jazdów was raided in 1281 by Boleslaus II, the Duke of Płock, a
new similar settlement was lodged on the grounds of a small
fishing village called Warszowa. In the beginning of the 14th
century it became one of the seats of the Dukes of Masovia, in
1413 becoming the capital of Masovia.
Upon the extinction of the
local ducal line, the duchy was reincorporated into the Polish
Crown in 1526. In 1529 Warsaw for the first time became the seat
of the General Sejm, permanent since 1569. In 1573 Warsaw gave its
name to the Warsaw Confederation, an agreement by the Polish
gentry to tolerate different religious faiths in the Kingdom of
Due to its central location
between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's capitals of Vilna and
Cracow, Warsaw became the capital of the Commonwealth and at the
same time of the Polish Crown in 1596, when King Sigismund III
Vasa moved the capital from Cracow. Warsaw remained the capital of
the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1795, when it was annexed
by the Kingdom of Prussia to become the capital of the province of
New East Prussia. Liberated by Napoleon's army in 1807, Warsaw was
made the capital of the newly created Duchy of Warsaw.
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Following the decisions of
the Congress of Vienna of 1815, Warsaw became the centre of the
Polish Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy under a personal union
with Imperial Russia. Following the repeated violations of the
Polish constitution by the Russians, the 1830 November Uprising
broke out. However, the Polish-Russian war of 1831 ended in the
uprising's defeat and in the curtailment of the Kingdom's
autonomy. On 27 February 1861 a Warsaw crowd protesting the
Russian rule over Poland was fired upon by the Russian troops.
Five people were killed. The Underground Polish National
Government resided in Warsaw during January Uprising in 1863-1864.
Warsaw became the capital of the newly independent Poland again in
Warsaw flourished in the
late nineteenth century under Mayor Sokrates Starynkiewicz
(1875–1892), a Russian-born general appointed by Tsar Alexander
III. Under Starynkiewicz Warsaw saw its first water and sewer
systems designed and built by the English engineer William Lindley
and his son, William Heerlein Lindley, as well as the expansion
and modernization of trams, street lighting and gas works.
In the course of the
Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920, the huge Battle of Warsaw was fought
on the Eastern outskirts of the city in which the capital of
Poland was successfully defended and the Red Army defeated.
Warsaw Photo Gallery Preview
Warsaw has been devastated many times in its history. Having
suffered dreadful damage during the Swedish and Prussian wars of
1655–1656, it was again assaulted in 1794, when the Russian army
massacred the population of the right-bank suburb of Praga. A
large part of it was destroyed during the Second World War. The
city would be rebuilt in the following decades.
The Second World War began when Germany invaded western Poland on
1 September 1939. On 17 September eastern Poland was invaded by
the USSR. Poland capitulated after 6 weeks of fighting.
Western Poland was
incorporated into the German Reich, eastern Poland into the USSR,
while central Poland, including Warsaw, came under the rule of the
General Government, a Nazi colonial administration. In the course
of the Invasion of Poland, Warsaw was severely bombed, and in the
course of the Siege of Warsaw approximately 10 to 15% of its
buildings were destroyed.
Warsaw became an occupied
city under the control of the Nazi Wehrmacht and SS. All higher
education institutions were immediately closed and Warsaw's entire
Jewish population — several hundred thousand, some 30% of the city
— herded into the Warsaw Ghetto. When the order came to liquidate
the Ghetto as part of Hitler's "final solution", Jewish fighters
launched the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Despite being heavily
outgunned and outnumbered, the Ghetto held out for almost a month.
When the fighting ended, the survivors were massacred.
During 1943 and 1944 the tide of
the war turned, as the USSR, which had been at war with Germany since
1941, inflicted a number of severe defeats on the German army. By July
1944 the Soviets were deep into the Polish territory, pursuing the
Germans toward Warsaw. Knowing that Stalin was hostile to the idea of
an independent Poland, the Polish government-in-exile based in London
gave orders to the underground Home Army (AK) to try to seize the
control of Warsaw from the Nazis just before the Soviets arrive. Thus,
on 1 August 1944, as the Soviet army was nearing the city very fast,
the Home Army and the general population started the Warsaw Uprising.
Despite Stalin's hostility towards Poland, the Poles had expected that
the Soviet troops would assist them against their common German enemy.
However, after the Red Army captured the right-bank Warsaw, the Soviet
offensive was abruptly stopped, while the Germans went on to
ruthlessly suppress the uprising. Although the insurgency, planned to
last 48 hours, held out for 63 days, eventually the Home Army fighters
were forced to capitulate. They were transported to the POW camps in
Germany, while the entire civilian population was expelled. Hitler,
ignoring the negotiated terms of the capitulation, ordered the entire
city to be razed to the ground, and the library and museum collections
robbed or burned. When on 17 January 1945 the Soviets crossed the Vistula and entered through the left-bank, they found a Warsaw that
had almost ceased to exist; 85% of the city had been destroyed,
including the historic Old Town and the Royal Castle. The surviving
Home Army fighters were rounded up by the NKVD and either murdered or
deported to Siberia.
The city was once considered a shining metropolis, but due to total
destruction, it has lost its baroque tinge. Although many of the
destroyed significant historical buildings were restored, little
remains of the resplendence of Warsaw baroque.
After the war, Boleslaw Bierut's puppet regime set up by Stalin made
Warsaw the capital of the communist People's Republic of Poland, and
the city was resettled and rebuilt. Large prefabricated housing
projects were erected in Warsaw to address the housing shortage. Few
of the inhabitants of the pre-war Poland returned: Hundreds of
thousands were dead, thousands more in exile from the new regime.
Nonetheless, the city resumed its role as the capital of Poland and
the country's centre of political and economic life. Many of the
historic streets, buildings, and churches were restored to their
original form. In 1980, Warsaw's historic Old Town was inscribed onto
UNESCO's World Heritage list.
Travel Guide: History of Warsaw: Timeline
Warsaw has existed for more than 700 years. The exact date of the origin of the town is not known, since there is no written document preserved about it.
About 12000 years BC:
first human life sightings in the area of today Warsaw
700-400 years BC:
cemetery of Luzycka Culture in Grochow
X century AD:
castle on Brodno existed. Archeologists have ascertained that by the 10th century a fortress built of wood and earth existed in Brodno, where one of Warsaw's housing estates is now situated. On both banks of the Vistula, burial grounds from the
Paleolithic age were discovered. The first ever mention of the trading post, Kamion, on the right bank of the river dates back to 1065. A settlement on the left bank was named
1065: Boleslaw Smialy gives the village Kamion to Benedictians from Mogilno
1262: attack on the duke's castle in Jazdow (today Ujazdow).
1281: Bolesaw II attacks Jazdow
the oldest entry mentioning the Warsaw town refers to the founding of
St. George's Church
the trial between the Polish king Casimir the Great and the Teutonic Order was held in Warsaw before a papal tribunal, from February 4 to August 15. The Teutonic Knights had been accused of the illegal capture of Pomerania and the Chelm
foundation of New Warsaw, north from the city walls - New Town
Warsaw became the capital of Mazovia
death of the last duke of Mazovia
the act of incorporation of Warsaw into Polish Crown together with Mazovia
Warsaw's first Sejm Walny takes place
Sejm of Polish and Lithuanian Kingdom takes place
building of first bridge on Vistula River, directed by Erazm Czioto (Giotto)
Warsaw became the place of Polish and Lithuanian royal elections
Stefan Batory receives tribute from Jerzy Fryderyk
premiere of first polish tragedy/drama/play "Odprawa Poslow
Greckich" written by Jan Kochanowski takes place on the grounds of
Warsaw became the capital of the federation of the Polish Kingdom and Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Polish -
construction of the first city sewer system with collectors on Nalewka
triumphant entry to Warsaw of Hetmana Stefana Zolkiewskiego after victorious war with Moscow.
Tzar Wasyl Szujski and his brothers were brought as captives
building of Zygmunt's military structures
building of Rzeczpospolita's Arsenal
the Column, a monument to Sigismund III Vasa was erected by his son Ladislaus
founding of Praga, a district of Warsaw on the east bank of Vistula
capitulation of city -- Swedish occupation causes a huge demolition of the city.
first polish periodical magazine "Merkuriusz Polski"
foundation of first polish astronomical observatory in Ujazdow by Tytus Liwiusz Burattini
first post office in Warsaw - on the Krzywe Kolo Street
opening of Marywil - modern market halls with luxurious towers
construction begins of the 1.5 km long Saxon Axis (Saxon Garden and Saxon
2.5 km long Calvary Road from 3 Crosses Square to Belveder
the opening of the Colegium Nobilium, an exclusive military college
creation of "Komisja Brukowa" with marshal Bielinski as its chairman
opening of Zaluski's Library
opening of first Theater -- Operalnia
coronation of Stanislaw August Poniatowski at the Warsaw Cathedral
creation of "Komisja Dobrego Porzadku" (a police unit)
opening of National Theater
foundation of Knight's School
first lanterns appear on streets of Warsaw
creation of "Komisja Edukacji Narodowej" - first in the world ministry of
begining of Great Sejm
Powazkowski cemetery founded - first communal cemetery
Sejm resolves the law of cities on April 19th, which equalizes laws of townsmen with
the first democratic constitution in Europe and the second in the world was voted on May 3 by the Sejm
occupation of Warsaw by Prussian army
foundation of Warszawskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciol Nauk (academic
capital of Warsaw duchery
Warsaw becomes capital of "Krolestwo Kongresowe" which was a part of Russia.
University of Warsaw founded
foundation of Bank Polski
opening of Teatr Wielki (Great Theater) in new building
constant fire brigade
the inauguration of the first part of the rail-link between Warsaw and
construction of sewers
construction of a gas-plant
opening of Szkola Glowna (central school)
construction of first steel bridge on Vistula River
first horse-powered tram
first rail bridge
start of modern filters, waterworks and city canalization
opening of Politechnika Warszawska
opening of Filharmonia Warszawska
start of Warsaw power-station
initiation of electric traction for city trams
Warsaw becomes again, on November 11, the capital of Poland after regaining
Warsaw reached a level of 1 million inhabitants
first audition of Polish Radio
first piano contest in the name of Fryderyk Chopin
first experimental television
the defense of Warsaw against the German invasion during the Second World War, lasting from September
6.II - Pabst plan "Warschau die neue deutsche Stadt" - technical plan of demolition of Warsaw
by the Nazis
2.X. - creation by German occupant Jewish district
19.IV - insurrection in Warsaw Ghetto
63 days of the Warsaw Uprising which lasted from July 1 to November 2.
Entire population of Warsaw left the Warsaw as Hitler planned to destroy the
1.VIII-2.X - 63 days of Warsaw Insurrection
14.IX - liberation of Warsaw district "Praga"
2.X-16.I - Warsaw is completely demolished by Germans by special division of Vernichtungskommando
troops of the First Polish Army entered the town on January 17.
People returned to their capital en masse and proceeded to rebuilt
Warsaw from ashes
17.I - divisions of the First Army of Polish Army come to right-sided
July - opening of first reconstructed bridge on river Vistula
July - opening of W-Z Route with a second reconstructed bridge
subway construction begins
end of reconstruction of the Old Town
1956: second time in its history population exceeds 1 million of inhabitants
reconstruction of the Royal Castle begins
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