I wrote this a while ago, but now, as I am in Warsaw, it sounds even more true.
I read a very touching article about my beautiful city on this blog. It's called: "Warsaw, I love you!". The author states something very true: "Don't think of Warsaw as a city. Warsaw is a woman. A real woman". As an explanation I must add that in the Polish language, Warsaw-Warszawa is feminine (she, her, etc.), while cities like Kraków (Cracow), Gdańsk (Danzig) and Wrocław (Breslau)- are masculine. And those masculine cities, the article goes on to explain, show what they got when you go in. Warsaw doesn't. At first sight, it is a sad, grey city, a capital city where people work, where they are always in a rush, and want to show off with their clothes and cars. But if you get to live there for a while, you get to see the other face of Warsaw. And by that, I don't mean the tourist attractions.
I mean the simple fact that the whole history of Warsaw is mirrored in it's walls. Starting from the Old Town to the modern skyscrapers, you can follow everything this city has been through. And it's been a lot. The past, the presence, and the future meet in Warsaw, and together they cause a pleasant chaos that I've come to love so much, and I haven't seen anywhere else.
Here you can see a beautifully renovated old building. The walls have just been painted, and it looks fantastic. Next to it, you can see a ruined house. It still has holes in its walls that date back to WWII, one of the many sad souvenirs that the Nazis left in Warsaw. On the walls you often see plaques commemorating the people who were shot at that very spot. And you very often see the “Kotwica”-sign as proof of Polish resistance against the Nazis. When you look further, you see the majestic, pompous architectural style of the soviet times, and then the many modern skyscrapers made of glass.
Warsaw is a city of contradictions. On one hand, the city has to be modernized. On the other hand, the its history has to be preserved. I think that at the moment, both is well represented. But will it stay that way? Warsaw invites you to face history. I often think that if history was different, my city would be important, beautiful, a center of power and culture. I have stumbled upon a beautiful project: a digital reconstruction of Warsaw how it looked in 1935, before WWII. The project's website can be seen here. How beautiful Warsaw used to be, comparable with Paris and other Western cities!
I am often homesick for Warsaw. Not only because my friends and family live there, but also because I am fascinated by my city. I know the good cafes, restaurants, and other places, and I learn of others. My newest discovery is MiTo, a cafe, galery and bookstore all at the same time. Places like this don't just happen like that. I think Warsaw has a whole lot to offer. I hope that the people who came here for the European Championships took their time to get to know the city. Who was born in Warsaw, stays that way forever. Even though I now live far away from my city, I feel connected to it like never before.
Do you also feel that way about your city? What do you miss most?