By Jo Caird
Being in the centre of Europe makes the Polish capital an ideal destination for businesses providing goods and services to the EU. But there is more to this historic city than its location.
Growing financial hub
Poland’s annual gross domestic product growth climbed from 2.9 per cent in 2016 to 4.6 per cent in 2017, and is expected to reach 4.2 per cent this year, according to the World Bank. This growth makes it an attractive place to invest: the US banking group JPMorgan is setting up a global operations centre in Warsaw, creating 2,500 new jobs, while fellow US bank Goldman Sachs is increasing staff numbers there by 50 per cent this year.
The city has something for every architectural taste: on the one hand, there is the picturesque Old Town Market Square with its brightly painted merchant houses; on the other, Poland’s tallest building, the Palace of Culture and Science, a piece of Stalinist monumentalism built in the 1950s by some 3,500 Russian workers (and a similar number of Poles) as a “gift” from the Soviet Union.
Finest of dining
Warsaw’s dining scene is booming, with young chefs and restaurateurs presenting exciting new takes on Polish classics such as pierogi (dumplings). Atelier Amaro won Warsaw’s (and Poland’s) first Michelin star in 2013 and Senses picked one up in 2016. There are sure to be more in the coming years.
Baroque green spaces
Parks and gardens abound, from the neoclassical grandeur of the 76-hectare Lazienki Park to the city’s oldest public park, Saxon Garden, both of which were modelled on the style of Versailles. Further afield, 14km outside the city centre, Wilanów Park has a Renaissance-style rose garden and English-style landscaping, and a baroque royal residence that is open as a museum.
Remembering the past
Romantic composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin was born in the duchy of Warsaw and lived in the city until the age of 20. The Chopin Museum opened in 2010 on the 200th anniversary of his birth; its high-tech multimedia displays showcase his life and work. Free recitals take place on Sundays between May and September at the foot of the Chopin monument in Lazienki Park.
Several excellent modern museums explore Warsaw’s wartime past. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto in 2013, while the Warsaw Rising Museum tells the story of the 1944 operation in which the Polish resistance sought to liberate the city from Nazi occupation.
Photographs: Getty Images/iStockphoto; Alamy; Dreamstime