Warsaw is often referred to as the ‘Phoenix City’ for the way it rose out of the ashes of destruction of WW2. In response to the Polish Uprisings during the course of the War, the Nazis had destroyed over 80 percent of the city by the end of it. Communist rule in Poland may have been responsible for countless ugly, high-rise blocks throughout the city, but during the decades of post-war Russian control Warsaw’s lovely, historic Old Town was completely rebuilt. Using old photographs and other images as references, the areas was restored brick by brick to its former century glory. In 1980 it was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as ‘an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction.’ For the visitor, Warsaw’s, partially-walled Old Town is not only the city’s most evocative district, but contains most of the major sites. For a taster of the charm it has to offer, head to Old Town Square, where a medley of townhouses in varying styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, are lined up in picture-perfect rows. (Only numbers 34 and 36 were still standing after the Nazis had left). In the middle of the square is the famous statue Mermaid with numerous cafes creating a buzzing, lively ambiance. Warsaw’s Royal Castle is another recreated marvel, a massive carbon copy of its heyday when the structure was renowned throughout Europe. Inside in the King’s apartment are a series of paintings by Bernando Berlotto, an Italian landscape artist and court painter. His detailed paintings of 17th century Warsaw were pivotal to rebuilding the city with accuracy. You can see other historical documents and images of pre-war Warsaw at the Historical Museum of Warsaw on Old Town Square. Don’t miss the fascinating documentary film on the city’s reconstruction (shown in several languages) that is not only a tribute to a herculean technical feat, but the resilience of the Polish people. All you want to know about Warsaw!| Since 2006 Holiday Velvet offers Warsaw accommodation.