Historic Centre of Warsaw was inscribed into the UNESCO list in 1980 as “an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century”.
Its history was very dramatic. It was completely destroyed during the Second World War. In an act of revenge for the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 Hitler ordered to raze the city to the ground. Before it happened the Nazis plundered the Royal Castle of art treasures. Under the supervision of German art experts even marble floors and fireplaces were dismantled and taken away to the Third Reich. Warsaw’s inhabitants were expelled by the Germans. Almost a million people lost all of their possessions. The city was deprived of water, gas and electricity. The old town was turned into rubble. Warsaw was a desert of ruins stretching to the horizon. In January inhabitants of Warsaw began to come back. In spite of extremely bad conditions life returned to the streets. The reconstruction project was a real challenge for architects and builders. The plans were drawn from old photographs and pre-war drawings. Some of the historical sections were reconstructed with the help of Bernardo Belotto paintings. He was the Italian artist known as Canaletto who spend 13 years of his life in Polish capital. He used to paint numerous views of late18th century Warsaw. Architects decided to give the Old Town its 17th and 18th century look which one can admire today.
The reconstruction of the Old Town was mostly completed in 1954 but rebuilding works of the Royal Castle did not start until1971. In 1980 it was made available for tourists and final works ended in 1988.
Nowadays it’s hard to believe that Warsaw’s Old Town experienced such a thrill. Charming streets and colorful tenement houses seem to stand there as if nothing ever happened.