In the first chapter of this travelogue, Stare and Nove Miasta represented Poland's regal past. This chapter covers an adjacent part of the Vistula West Bank that represents Poland's parliamentarian, and commercial, present. Although it is called the Royal Way, it would be better described as the Presidential Way, a series of roads that host many of Poland's governmental buildings, along with Warszawa University, and Warsaw's ritzier shopping halls. People on vacation go to the old city squares, the Royal Way is where people go to Warsaw on business. But that doesn't prevent it from being worthy of your vacation time. Indeed, the Royal Way has a lot to see and do, especially regarding Poland's leading roles in the arts and sciences after the Middle Ages.
The Royal Way stretches along three roads starting from the Royal Castle. Krakowskie Przedmiescie takes you past the Presidential Palace to Warszawa University. Novy Swiat runs from the University's Science Building with its memorial to Copernicus (first photo) through the main shopping district through Charles de Gaulle Square to the plaza Trzech Krzyzy. Finally, Al Ujazdowski follows along a series of parks leading to the major local attraction Lazienski Park in the south. Each of these roads are major auto roads that are also often packed with pedestrians, and because of the preponderance of government facilities there are also large numbers of police, so caution while traversing this area is definitely advised.
All of Warsaw has a high density of churches and monuments, and this part of town is no exception. But the second photo (of Mickiewicza, in front of St. Michael's Church) shows, these monuments are quite prominent.
The Presidential Palace is also quite prominent, but like the White House in Washington, is heavily guarded and surveillance is strong. I do not advise taking a picture of it. I watched as the police scrutinized even the credentialed media.
The Charles de Gaulle roundabout intersects Nowy Swiat with Al. Jerozolimskie, which is one of the main bridges crossing over the Vistula. Much of the architecture at this roundabout is flat, ugly, utilitarian concrete blocks that make one appreciate the architecture elsewhere much more. However, heading down Jerozolimskie, one of these concrete blocks is actually very much worth your attention -- it contains two museums, the Polish National Museum and the Polish Military Museum (third photo). The Polish National Museum is Warsaw's premier art museum, continuous active for several centuries. Exhibits tend to focus on prominent Polish art, both historic and modern. Meanwhile, the Polish Military Museum provides an informative look at Polish arms and military equipment, particularly during the 20th Century. Indeed, the outdoor exhibit (free access to the public) is an amazing array of Polish, German, and Soviet hardware.
Continuing on Novy Swiat, you will encounter its sidewalk district, where the sidewalks widen enough to house outdoor cafes while still allowing sufficient room for the large amounts of auto traffic. This is where you will see lots of people in suits discussing business over an overpriced cappucino, and where the trendiest of European fashions will be sold. Still, outdoor cafes are still outdoor cafes, and if you are underdressed, do not be concerned.
Novy Swiat ends at a massive traffic circle called Trzech Krzyzy. You will know you reached this when you find a small but noticeable church in the middle of it. Then as you continue on Al. Ujazdowski, the character of Royal Way changes -- buildings on the riverside will become more sparse, and you will pass several small parks and manor grounds. The opposite side of the street is dominated by Ministries. At this point, I suggest leaving the road and heading down into the parks. Go left along Prusa and Stanka roads and you should find yourself on a large plaza overlooking a grass mall with a huge war memorial in the distance (the "Chwala Saperom", a memorial to a Polish engineer unit), then follow the park grounds south through Edwarda Park, then up the hill to Ujazdowski Park before reaching Ujazdowski Palace, which leads into Lazienski. These parks all have interesting memorials, but the one you want to find is that of Jan Sobieski (fourth photo) -- Poland's greatest hero who liberated Vienna from the Ottoman Empire in 1683. Look for Agrykola Street below Ujazdowski Palace.
Lazienski Park contains a number of interesting sights -- the Palac na Wyspie (a palace that straddles a canal), the Palac Myslewicki, and the Amphitheater (final photo). Each has been recently restored and are marvelous to look at. You will find that the locals enjoy walking the paths of Lazienski.
In all, Royal Way is a great road to follow to get a sense of more modern aspects of Warsaw. I highly recommend walking it.
Trip taken 4-5 July 2002 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin