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(wôr`sô), Pol. Warszawa, city (1993 est. pop. 1,655,700), capital of Poland and of Mazowieckie prov., central Poland, on both banks of the Vistula River. It is a political, cultural, and industrial center, a major transportation hub, and one of Europe's great historic cities. Among its many industries are steel machinery, electrical engineering, chemicals, motor vehicles, food products, and textiles.

Landmarks and Institutions

Among Warsaw's most notable buildings are the Holy Cross Church, the 15th-century St. Carmelite Church, several fine palaces, and the monuments to CopernicusCopernicus, Nicholas
, Pol. Mikotaj Kopérnik, 1473–1543, Polish astronomer. After studying astronomy at the Univ. of Kraków, he spent a number of years in Italy studying various subjects, including medicine and canon law. He lectured c.
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 and Adam MickiewiczMickiewicz, Adam
, 1798–1855, Polish romantic poet and playwright, b. Belorussia. He studied at the Univ. of Vilna, where he was arrested (1823) for pan-Polish activities and deported to Russia.
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. The medieval Stare Miasto [old town], with its marketplace and 14th-century cathedral, was rebuilt according to the prewar pattern. Warsaw has many educational and cultural institutions, including the Univ. of Warsaw (founded in 1818) and the Polish Academy of Sciences.


Although settlements existed on the site of Warsaw in the 11th cent., the city probably grew around a castle built in the 13th cent. by a duke of MazoviaMazovia
or Masovia
Pol. Mazowsze, historic region, central Poland. At the death (1138) of Boleslaus III, Mazovia became an independent duchy under the Piast dynasty. It became a suzerainty of Great Poland in 1351 and was finally united with it in 1526.
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. In 1413, Warsaw became the capital of the duchy of Mazovia, which was incorporated with Great Poland in 1526. After Kraków burned, Warsaw replaced it (1596) as Poland's capital. Warsaw grew rapidly as a commercial and cultural center, despite frequent invasions and pillages. It fell temporarily to the Swedes under Charles X (1655–56) and Charles XII (1702), was occupied by the Russians in 1792 and 1794, and passed to Prussia in 1795.

Liberated by Napoleon I in 1806, it became (1807) the capital of the grand duchy of Warsaw (see PolandPoland,
Pol. Polska, officially Republic of Poland, republic (2005 est. pop. 38,635,000), 120,725 sq mi (312,677 sq km), central Europe. It borders on Germany in the west, on the Baltic Sea and the Kaliningrad region of Russia in the north, on Lithuania, Belarus, and
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) and was the scene in 1812 of a diet that proclaimed the reestablishment of Poland. In 1813, however, the city fell to the Russians, and in 1815 it became the capital of the nominally independent kingdom of central Poland, awarded by the Congress of Vienna to the Russian crown. Warsaw was the principal center of unsuccessful Polish uprisings against Russian domination in 1830 and 1863.

German forces took the city in 1915, during World War I. In Nov., 1918, it was liberated by Polish troops and proclaimed capital of the restored Polish state. In 1920 the Polish defense of Warsaw, led by the French general Maxime Weygand, turned the tide of the Russo-Polish War. The city was the scene in 1926 of a military coup that established Marshal Joseph Piłsudski's dictatorship.

During World War II the city was occupied (1939–45) by German troops and subjected to systematic destruction. In 1940 the Germans isolated the Jewish ghetto, which in 1942 contained about 500,000 persons. In reprisal for a Jewish uprising (Feb., 1943) in the ghetto, the Germans killed an estimated 40,000 of the Jews who had survived the battle. When Warsaw was liberated (Jan., 1945) by Soviet troops, only about 200 Jews remained.

From Aug. to Oct., 1944, some 40,000 members of the Polish nationalist underground and German troops battled for Warsaw. While the battle was raging the Soviet army, which was camped across the Vistula and which the partisans had hoped would come to their aid, remained inactive. The Germans routed the rebels and following their victory carried out severe reprisals, killing or expelling Warsaw's inhabitants and deliberately demolishing the city. By October about 15,000 partisans and more than 200,000 civilians had been killed and the city lay in ruins. The postwar decision to retain Warsaw as the national capital resulted in a large-scale reconstruction. In 1955, the Warsaw Pact established the now-defunct Warsaw Treaty OrganizationWarsaw Treaty Organization
or Warsaw Pact,
alliance set up under a mutual defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland, in 1955 by Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union.
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, the Eastern European counterpart to NATO.


See N. Davies, Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw (2004).



(Warszawa), the capital, largest city, and political, economic, cultural, and scholarly center of the Polish People’s Republic. It is located on the Mazovian Plain, along both banks of the Vistula River, at a spot where the river has long been crossed by a route linking eastern and central Europe. The climate of Warsaw is temperate continental (558 mm of precipitation a year: average temperature in January, -3.5° C, average temperature in July, 19.2° C). The population is 1.3 million (1969), 4 percent of the total population of Poland. At the end of World War II, as a result of the barbaric destruction of the city by the fascist German occupiers and the death of 800,000 inhabitants, the city was left with 162,000 people (1944), as opposed to 1.3 million in 1939; in 1950 there were already 804,000 people, and at the end of 1955, 1 million. The growth of the population is the result of internal migration, natural increase, and the extending of administrative boundaries. The area of the capital increased from 118 sq km in 1937 to 412 sq km in 1951 and 446 sq km in 1969. About two-fifths of the area of Warsaw is occupied by agricultural lands, forests, and parks. Together with its suburbs (the boundaries are Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Blonie, Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, Serock, and Radzymin), it forms a metropolitan area of about 2 million people. In 1969 of the 800,000 people employed in Warsaw’s businesses and institutions, 31 percent were employed by industry, 12 percent by construction, 8 percent by transportation and communications, 12 percent by commerce, 6 percent by municipal services, and 14 percent by educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. Approximately one-fifth of all the workers live outside the city center in Warsaw’s suburbs.

Municipal government

In the administrative realm, Warsaw is under the authority of the republic and is simultaneously the administrative center of the województwo (province) of Warsaw. The city’s body of governmental power is the municipal People’s Council, elected for four years by citizens 18 years old and older. The executive body of the People’s Council is its Presidium. Warsaw is divided into seven municipal districts (dzielnica); in each of them a district people’s council is elected to a four-year term, and the council then forms its executive body, the presidium.


The first settlements on the territory of contemporary Warsaw date from the tenth century. The advantageous position of these settlements at the crossroads of important trade routes facilitated their rapid economic development and the formation of a city. In 1413, Warsaw became the capital of the Mazovian duchy; after 1596 it was the capital of Poland. Around this time the first factories appeared in Warsaw.

During the second half of the 18th century Warsaw became not only the economic but also the cultural and educational center of Poland. In 1791 the Four Year’s Sejm located in Warsaw accepted the constitution of May 3, which was a progressive document for its time. During the rebellion of 1794, led by T. Kościuszko, Warsaw was one of the most important centers of the Polish people’s struggle for the reunification of lands taken away by the first (1772) and second (1793) partitions of Poland and for the reinstatement of the constitution of May 3, 1791. After the third partition of Poland (1795), Warsaw was seized by Prussia. From 1807 to 1813 it was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. After the Congress of Vienna of 1814-15, it was the capital of the Kingdom (Tsarstvo) of Poland, which was part of the Russian Empire. In 1830-31 and 1863-64 Warsaw was the center of the liberation uprisings against tsarist oppression.

At the end of the 19th century Warsaw took on the traits of a major capitalist city. Its population grew rapidly (223,000 in 1864, 500,000 in 1893, 845,000 in 1913). Warsaw became a center of the workers’ movement. In 1876 the first socialist circles were established; in 1882 the Proletariat Party #1 was founded, and in 1888, the Proletariat Party #2. In 1890 the first May Day celebration in Poland was held; May Day 1905 was marked by a workers’ demonstration organized by F. E. Dzerzhinskii. The population of Warsaw participated actively in the Revolution of 1905-07.

During World War I the city was occupied by German forces (1915-18). After the restoration of Poland’s independence (1918), Warsaw was the capital of the state. From the end of 1918 to the beginning of 1919, soviets of workers’ deputies were created in the city. In December 1918, Warsaw was the site of the first congress of the Communist Workers’ Party of Poland, which in 1925 became the Communist Party of Poland. After Hitler’s Germany attacked Poland (Sept. 1, 1939), the population of Warsaw defended itself heroically for 20 days; a central role in the defense of Warsaw (September 8-27) was played by the proletariat.

On Sept. 28, 1939, Warsaw was occupied by the fascist German troops. During the occupation, Warsaw was the center of the liberation struggle of the Polish people, with uprisings in 1943 and 1944. On the night of Jan. 1, 1944, the Warsaw underground formed a provisional parliament of Poland—Krajowa Rada Narodowa. On Jan. 17, 1945, during the Vistula-Oder operation of 1945, Warsaw was liberated jointly by the Soviet forces and the First Army of the Polish forces. The city was almost completely destroyed by the occupiers, and its restoration was part of the fundamental political and social transformations of popular power; in 1970 the State Council of the Polish People’s Republic awarded Warsaw the Order of the Builders of People’s Poland. The Second International Congress of the Supporters of Peace, convened in Warsaw in 1950, conferred the Honorary International Peace Prize on Warsaw as a symbol of peaceful reconstruction. In December 1948, Warsaw was the site of the united congress of workers’ parties, at which the Polish United Workers’ Party was created. The Warsaw Pact, in which representatives of the socialist countries signed an agreement on friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance, was concluded in 1955.


Warsaw occupies an advantageous geographical position in relation to the transport network of Poland. This network links it with the coal and metallurgical base of Upper Silesia and the ports of Gdansk and Gdynia; Warsaw is also intersected by trans-European trunk rail lines and the Moscow-Berlin highway. Warsaw is the junction of seven rail lines (six of them electrified) and eight highways. There are two ports: the old port on the Vistula at Praga and a new one at Zeran on the Zeran Canal, which links the Vistula with the Narew. There is an international airport at Okecie.

Industry for the years of popular power (1945-69) has increased 11 times over the prewar level of production; its share of the gross industrial output of Poland in 1969 was 6.4 percent. Warsaw is third among the cities of the country in production volume. The most highly developed branches of industry are those based on skilled labor: machine construction and metalworking (54.9 percent of all the industrial workers in Warsaw in 1968). Others that are especially important are electronics and radio electronics (one-fourth of the country’s production), optics, motor-vehicle construction (the factory for passenger automobiles in Źerań), the chemical industry (pharmaceuticals, photochemistry, and others), the printing industry (more than one-third of Polish production, 5.7 percent of those employed in Warsaw’s industries), and the production of high-quality steel (the War- saw Factory in Młociny). There is a food industry (8 percent of the industrial force), as well as sewing, leather, and other branches of light industry. Heavy industry is concentrated primarily in the Wola and Zeran districts on the right bank of the Vistula. A subway system has been under construction since 1971.



The main part of Warsaw is located on the left, higher bank of the Vistula; this area includes the historical center of Warsaw, the Old City (Stare Miasto) and the New City (Nowe Miasto) bordering it on the north, each with its rectilinear network of streets and central market square. The Old City includes fortress walls (14th-15th centuries) with a fortified barbican before its gates (16th century), the 14th-century Gothic Cathedral of St. John, and houses from the 15th century to the 18th, with ornamental sculpture, murals, and sgraffiti. The New City has a 15th-century Gothic Catholic church, as well as monasteries and churches from the 16th and 17th centuries, including the Church of the Sacraments (1688-92, architect Tylman Gamer ski). South of the Old City was the royal castle, with splendid interiors in baroque and classical styles; it was built in 1599-1619 on the site of the Gothic princely court and was destroyed in 1939-44.

Warsaw in the 16th century to the 18th spread to the south and west, mainly along the street called Krakowskie Przedmieście. At the beginning of the 18th century the so-called Saxon Axis was created, a baroque architectural complex consisting of a square, a palace, and a park (designed by the architects J. Naumann and M. D. Pöppelman).

Among the buildings in baroque (17th century to mid-18th) and early classical style (last quarter of the 18th century) are numerous villas belonging to wealthy families, including the Ossolinski (1641, architect W. Sienes; destroyed in 1944), Krasinski (1677-82, architect Tylman Gamerski), Czartoryski-Potocki (1730, architect G. Fontana), and Tyszkiewicz (1785-92, architects J. Kamsetzer and others) famiHes, as well as the royal estate of Wiljanów, with a palace (1679-1731, architects A. Locci and others) and formal park. Also from this period are the churches of the Order of Visitation (1727-62, architects K. Bai and E. Schräger), of the Holy Cross (1682-1754, architects G. Belloti and G. Fontana), of the Carmelites (façade, 1761-83, architect E. Schräger), of the Evangelites (1778-81, architect S. G. Zug), and of St. Anne (façade, 1788, architects H. P. Eigner and S. K. Potocki). The Lazienki palace-park complex was built to the south in the last quarter of the 18th century; it has palaces, pavilions, a theater, and English-style formal gardens.

West of Krakowskie Przedmiescie a new center of Warsaw was created at the beginning of the 19th century. It had regular blocks, classical homes and public buildings, and the Theater and Bank Square complexes—the Great Theater, Teatr Wielki (1820-32, architects H. P. Eigner and A. Corazzi) and the State Commission of Receipts and Treasury, today the Presidium of the Municipal People’s Soviet (1824-25), the Bank of Poland (1828-30), and the Staszica Palace, today the Academy of Sciences (1820-23), all by architect A. Corazzi.

From 1850 to 1935 income-producing residences and poorly constructed housing projects sprang up on the outskirts of Warsaw and in the right-bank region of Praga; this construction made a sharp contrast with the elegant structures being erected in the city center in the spirit of eclecticism and in the modern and, later, functional styles—Polish Theater (Teatr Polski, 1912, architect Cz. Przibylski), the bank of cooperative societies (1912-17, architect J. Heirich, Jr.), the Main Commercial School (1926-35, architect J. Witkiewicz-Koszczyc), and the post office (1935, architect Ju. Puterman-Sadłowski).

After 1945 prewar measurements and archival data were used to completely restore the Old City and the New City, which had been destroyed by the fascist German occupiers, as well as the main architectural monuments of the city. According to the plan for the reconstruction of Warsaw (1946), intersecting main east-west and north-south thoroughfares were constructed, including the rebuilt Marszalkowska Street, with its building complex on Constitution Square (1950-52), Palace of Culture and Science (1952-55, Soviet architects L. V. Rudnev and others), and a new central complex of dwellings and public buildings (begun in 1961, architects Z. Karpinski and others). On the former outskirts and in the center of Warsaw, well-constructed housing districts, including Muranów, Koło, Zolibórz, Bieljany, and Praga, were built. Other buildings and structures were erected, including the House of the Party (1948-51, architects E. Wierzbicki and others), the Central Statistics Administration (1948-54, architect R. Gutt), the Sejm building (1948-52, architect B. Pniewski), the Tenth Anniversary Stadium (1954-55, architects J. Hryniewiecki and others), and the two-level Gdańsk bridge (1959) and the “Supersam” department store (1962, architects M. Krasinski and others). The main monuments include the Sigismund III column on Zamkova Square (1643) and monuments to Copernicus (cast in 1828-30 by the sculptor B. Torvaldsen), A. Mickiewicz (1898, by the sculptor C. Godebski), and F. Chopin, in Łazienki Park (1907-26, by the sculptor W. Szymanow-ski), the heroes of the ghetto (1948, sculptor N. Rappaport, architect L. Suzin), and the heroes of Warsaw (1964, sculptor M. Koneczny), as well as the memorial cemetery complex for troops of the Soviet Army (1950, architect B. Liachert, sculptors J. Jarnuszkiewicz and S. Lisowski).


Educational institutions and scientific and cultural establishments

Warsaw has 13 institutions of higher learning (approximately 65,000 students in 1968-69), including the university (founded in 1818), a polytechnical institute (1915), the schools of economics and agriculture, the School for Planning and Statistics, the Higher State School of Music, a number of drama schools, a medical academy, a physics academy, and a fine-arts academy. Warsaw is also the site of the Polish Academy of Sciences and about 20 of its scientific-research institutes, more than 15 scientific societies, and the Palace of Culture and Science, with its theaters, Museum of Technology, establishments of the Academy of Sciences, departments of the university, and numerous scientific societies. Among the largest libraries are the Public Library, the National Library, and the university library. The museums include the museum of the Polish revolutionary movement, the Museum of the Polish Army, the museum of the history of Warsaw, the V. I. Lenin Museum, the National Museum, the archaeological museum, the museums of A. Mickiewicz, F. Chopin, and others. There are about 16 exhibition halls (1968), a zoo, the Botanical Gardens, the Great Theater (opera and ballet), the Theater of the People, other theaters, and the philharmonia. At regular intervals Warsaw is the site of the international Chopin piano competition, as well as of the Warsaw Autumn festival of contemporary music.


Zakhvatovich, Ia., and P. Began’skii. Staryi gorod v Varshave, Warsaw, 1956.
Tsiborobskii, A. Varshava. Warsaw, 1958. (Album.)
Mederskii, L. A. Varshava. Leningrad, 1967.
Szwankowski, E. Warszawa, rozwój urbanistyczny i architek-toniczny. Warsaw, 1952.
Dziewulski, S. Warszawa. Warsaw, 1964.
Plan Generatny Warszawy. Warsaw, 1965.
Bartelski, L. M. Walczqca Warszawa. Warsaw, 1968.
Warszawa popowstaniowa: 1864-1918, vols. 1-2. [Warsaw] 1968-69.


the capital of Poland, in the E central part on the River Vistula: became capital at the end of the 16th century; almost completely destroyed in World War II as the main centre of the Polish resistance movement; rebuilt within about six years; university (1818); situated at the junction of important trans-European routes. Pop.: 2 204 000 (2005 est.)
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