The Phoenix is one of the most loved mythical creatures, it is wise, strong and powerful – and it rises from the ashes. For that very reason, Warsaw has the nickname of the Phoenix City: because it has also risen from the ashes. Before the invasion of Poland 30% of Warsaw’s population (over 400 000 people) were Jewish, there were over 400 Synagogues and the people lived in harmony together. During WWII the Jews were forced into ghettos, crammed into 2.4% of the space of Warsaw, and already before the Nazis started deporting Jews to death camps and concentration camps, 100 000 Jews had died from starvation and disease. Despite the many hours of history lessons in school and exams about WWII, I learned far more about the situation and what really happened there by spending a few days in Warsaw.
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Warsaw Poland – The Phoenix City
Most attractions in Warsaw have to do with the WWII, and naturally we started discussing and talking with each other about what happened then and what is still happening today. Experiencing things like this, awakening discussions and thoughts, is the part of travel where you learn more about yourself, other people and life in general.
In some awkward way, being reminded of what other people had to go through, how terrible their lives ended – makes you appreciate being alive, and it brings you right to the present moment. But Warsaw did not have the ”eery vibe” of the hurtful past, and in contrast to Sarajevo, there were no bullet holes in the buildings.
Warsaw had started again from the beginning, rebuilt the city for the new era, and rebuilt the Old Town to make it look exactly like it did before the war. The famous shopping street was buzzing with life. But it’s not like they have put their backs against the past ignoring what happened:
Monuments, statues, museums and the Jewish cemetery tell the story of the dark ages of Warsaw, and gives the visitor a sober reminder.
Our day in Warsaw was a grey and rainy one, which probably didn’t bring out the best and most beautiful side of the city, but the friendly, slightly shy people and the hearty Polish food warmed us up and really made our time in Poland wonderful.