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Warsaw Old Town Marks 60 Years

By on July 23, 2013
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60 Years Since Phoenix-Like Reconstruction of Warsaw’s Old Town

18.07.2013 Warsaw staged a host of events this past weekend marking the 60th anniversary of the reconstruction of the Old Town following its destruction during World War II.

“The decision to rebuild the Old Town was not easy,” stressed Magdalena Lan, a spokesperson from Warsaw’s city hall, in an interview with the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

Some 90 percent of the Old Town’s buildings were destroyed, and a number of controversial decisions were taken in making the revival a reality.

“However, today, when we look at the Old Town, it’s hard to believe that these town-houses have only stood for 60 years,” Lan reflected.

“That’s why we wanted to offer Varsovians and visitors to the city a closer look at the history of the reconstruction, and at the history of the city over the ages.”

Exhibitions, film screenings, concerts and guided walks with Warsaw enthusiasts were all part of the weekend’s commemorations.

Warsaw suffered grave damage as a result of bombing by the Nazi Germans in the September campaign of 1939. However, the 1944 Warsaw Rising against the occupier ultimately gave rise to much more far-reaching destruction.

After the rising was crushed, the Nazis methodically dynamited swathes of the capital.

Following the war, the decision was taken to reconstruct areas such as the Old Town (with the controversial choice to stick to how the city would have looked in the eighteenth century.)

The first phase of the reconstruction of the Old Town was completed on 22 July 1953.

Speaking with Polish Radio’s English Section last month, acclaimed British architectural historian Joseph Rykwert – himself born in Warsaw – reflected that “the sentimental attachment to those buildings was so powerful that I think any advice to do otherwise [than rebuild] would have been impertinent.” (nh)

– Polskie Radio