Thursday, 29 August 2013

Balloon over Warsaw

Some pictures of the Old Town part of Warsaw, Poland's capital. I am attending the Advisory Committee of ASCOBANS (the dolphin and small whale agreement that covers the Baltic and North East Atlantic) and staying here in the Old Town.

Given that Warsaw has been destroyed many times in its history (most recently and thoroughly by the Nazis during World War Two, when it was literally decimated) an amazing rebuilding program has successfully reconstructed this district.Old photographs and the paintings of Canaletto were used and now tourists and locals happily mill here and judging from my brief transits between hostel and meeting place, many wedding parties celebrate their ceremonies here too.

The balloon is tethered near the football stadium and forms one of the viewing platforms above the mainly low lying city. The Old Town sits on a hill and also has its own view point (below).

The symbol of the city - Mermaid plus sword
The Cathedral
Could this be a whale? Its a adornment on the corner of a block but there is definitely a blow and a tail.
Wildlife in the City
Northern Crow

There are few animals in the Old Town - some European sparrows, a few feral pigeons and the occasional northern form of the crow (with neat grey waist-coat). The one in the pictures was chatting away to itself in a fine specimen-tree in a quiet square of Old Town.
The Royal Castle i(Zamek Krolewski) n Pl. Zamkowy

The Royal Palace is the 'pride of Warsaw' and was reconstructed from a pile of rubble between 1971 and 1984 with money from mainly exiled Poles. The castle has been the seat of kings and then parliaments since the 14th century. Like so much of Warsaw (an estimated 85%)  it was levelled by the Nazis in World War II. Further to their resistance, Hitler said that he would turn Warsaw into a 'lake'. Inside in the fine  Palace courtyard is a display of photographs from those desperate days, showing the haunting faces of the dispossessed. 

Across the square from the Palace are other fine and reconstructed buildings, many now hosting cafes on their ground floors.

The buildings are decorated with reconstructions of their original ornamentation, including statues and ironwork monsters.

The 'whale' is perched on the corner of the gable to the right. 

A great bell that was shattered and now stands reconstructed but  silent in a small square.
(The bell is on the right.) 

Old Town Reflections.

A tourist trap

Those haunting faces

22m about the Palace square stands King Sigismund.
He made Warsaw the capital of Poland. The original column was destroyed by bombardment and it lies in huge fractured sections by the Palace wall. The figure of Sigismund survived and in 1949 he and his column were replaced.

And one happy lady - below, Heidi Frisch the Secretary of ASCOBANS after the meeting has ended celebrating with an exquisite Lody.

Heidrun Frisch and her celebratory ice cream

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