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For many travelers to Europe, it can be tempting to stick to the usual suspects: iconic destinations such as Paris, London, Rome and the like. But clients seeking something more off the beaten path should consider Warsaw. One of Europe’s lesser-known gems, Poland’s capital city offers a wide array of historical attractions, including monuments, cathedrals, palaces, museums and market squares.
Despite the ravages of war and decades of political upheaval, Warsaw has blossomed into a modern and vibrant 21st-century city. Following are a few ways to experience the up-and-coming destination while still appreciating its rich culture and compelling history.EatBefore setting off to explore Warsaw’s wealth of attractions, clients can enjoy a taste of traditional Polish cuisine at Zapiecek. The restaurant has several locations throughout the city, including its historic Old Town. From piping-hot bowls of beet soup to hearty platters of pork and sauerkraut, there are plenty of options to please the palate. Zapiecek is particularly known for its pierogi — pan-fried or boiled dumplings stuffed with meat, cabbage, mushroom, potato, cheese or other fillings. Toppings include butter, sour cream, crispy bacon and onions. It’s the ultimate Polish comfort food. For something sweet, pierogi filled with seasonal fruit such as blueberries hits the spot.
SleepFrom charming boutique hotels to five-star luxury properties, accommodations are plentiful and suit a range of budgets and tastes. Warsaw hotel rates are generally lower than those in Western European capitals. The 350-room Sheraton Warsaw Hotel, which recently completed an expansive guestroom redesign, is centrally located on Three Crosses Square. Cafes, embassies, monuments, shops and major attractions are nearby, including Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews; National Museum; and Lazienki Park, which was founded in the 17th century and is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful palace-and-park complexes.
PlayIn the heart of Warsaw lies Old Town, its historic center. Originally established in the 13th century, it’s one of the city’s best-known and most-loved spots. During the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, Nazi troops destroyed more than 85 percent of this historic area. After the war, Old Town was meticulously reconstructed based on old drawings, paintings and photographs. Featuring a picturesque market square, colorful buildings bedecked with flower boxes, elegant churches and cobblestone streets, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see for any visitor to Warsaw.
Not far from Old Town is Holy Cross Church, which has an unusual distinction — it’s the final resting place for Frederic Chopin’s heart. The Polish-born composer and pianist died in Paris in 1849 but requested that his heart be returned to Warsaw for interment. It’s preserved in a jar of alcohol and kept inside a pillar in the church.