…the fascinating fractured city.
Having fought two empires in the WWII, first the Soviet and then the German one, having survived (still controversial) uprising with great losses, it had its centre bombed in 1944.
The defiance its citizens showed in restoring it is truly astonishing:Reconstruction took 14 years. In my opinion, the vibrant colours of the Old Town buildings add a surreal sense to them when one learns that they are copies of the original.
Wandering around the city, which is split in two by broad Vistula river, one can come upon a void, a ruined aristocratic palace or cross a metal line on the pavement outlining the border of the Ghetto.
From the formidable “Palace of Culture” (being even advertised as an identification sign of the city for the tourists) to tall buildings (not quite skyscrapers yet, but still claiming a presence on the flat plain the city is spread on) to new shopping centres – there is a lot of new construction, however, some of the old buildings are not reused nor converted. Although sad, this gives the city the contrast and almost dramatic tension. Old buildings give many opportunities for discovering hidden passages and courtyards.
The craftsmanship required for restoring certain buildings has been lost, perhaps as this image demonstrates:
Apart from 20th century photographs, learning about Warsaw’s own “Canaletto” (Bernardo Bellotto) gave yet another perspective for perceiving the city.
It is interesting that the city has been restored and that the people, instead of building a “new world” with all the after-war years optimism wanted instead to bring back the past, as if to deny that it was interrupted. Contrasting Dresden with Warsaw, the question is to what extent restoration becomes necessary and whether leaving one ruin as it is is enough of a justification to rebuild another.