My recent visit to Poland was an eye-opener. It was nothing like the other European countries. A colleague and I toured Warsaw and Wroclaw, the two big cities.
The 10-hour flight from the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam to Warsaw’s Chopin Airport was exhausting to say the least, what with Covid-19 safety rules, masking and transit processes.
Warsaw was rebuilt after its destruction during the Second World War that saw 99 percent of the city razed. This history and more tales of the suffering of Warsaw and its fight for Independence, the popular uprising that peaked in the 1970s and 80s are documented at the Warsaw Museum.
It was established as a tribute to the sacrifice by Warsaw residents and is epitomised by the remains of a teenager and replica grave. The outer museum walls bear thousands of names of those who fought and died during the civil uprisings.
The museum has a multimedia exhibition of Polish military history showing the 63 days of fighting, everyday life of the civilian population and post-war communist terror, in the film City of Ruins.
Warsaw’s old town’s rebuilt Royal Castle and exquisite Market Square have colourful building facades which also house in and outside restaurants and cafés. The Square has a statue of the city’s symbol, a mermaid with upraised sword. Historical interiors come to life in the rebuilt and restored works of Canaletto or Bacciarelli.
One evening we visited the Wilanów Palace outside the city, which had laid on the annual Royal Garden Lights Festival.
Built in the 17th century for King John Sobieski III, and expanded by other rulers and beauty enhanced with the Wilanów gardens and glittering four-wheeled goose-carriage just outside the Palace. The perfectly manicured gardens were awash in dazzling rays of thousands of lights and synchronized with music.