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The Urbanist’s Warsaw

Basement punk, commie crafts, and post-pierogi cuisine.


A groovy car parked outside the 1681-built Carmelite church.  

Because the majority of the city was flattened during World War II, Warsaw often gets a bad rap for having less old-world charm than, say, Kraków or Prague. But that’s exactly what Varsovians love about it—the city is a chaotic mix of prewar, Communist, and contemporary architecture and influences. And it’s not overrun with backpackers, despite the fact that Warsaw is a relative bang for the American buck (Poland is still not on the euro). Meanwhile, the city is beginning to overtake Berlin as a hub for pioneering creative types, and it’s home to one of the most vibrant contemporary-art scenes in Europe. This year alone, the National Museum opened its expanded gallery of modern and contemporary Polish art, while the Museum of Modern Art finally put its permanent collection on display, and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened its doors just a few blocks away from where Keret House—an architectural installation—made headlines for being the narrowest house in the world. As Warsaw experiences a boom—with new apartment buildings, boutiques, and restaurants on the rise, and the dregs of Communism fading away—the city feels primed to transform itself once again.


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