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Warsaw

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warsaw

There’s a “Christmas Market Fever” all over Europe these days, and Warsaw doesn’t escape the bug. This city manages to fascinate every Christmas, with new, designer decorations adorning its main markets, streets bathed in light, and a coat of snow… the guaranteed “white Christmas” experience. Plus… the architecture in the old town, much rebuilt as a tribute to the city’s past and traditions, creates the perfect setting for a romantic Christmas. And Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw is fit for royalty, but with affordable luxury accommodation, and gourmet cuisine, guaranteed to make out of your Warsaw Christmas experience the memory of a lifetime.

angel

The Christmas markets of Warsaw kick off this weekend, on November 27, and are planned to last till December 23, 2015. The main market, at Plac Wilsona, is the most popular, as well as the most interesting of all. It’s highly touristy, so expect everything that comes with the “territory.” But unlike other traditional Christmas markets around Europe, this is an international event, with 24 exhibitors from Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and so on. There will be, of course, enough exhibitors from Poland to satisfy your needs for local arts and crafts. The usual holiday treats, including aromatic mulled wine, are a given.

Another popular Christmas market takes place at Barbakan. It’s the perfect destination to shop for indigenous arts, crafts and handicrafts. More than an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts and decorations, this is also the place to see craftsmen showcasing their skills, traditional entertainment, and you can even meet the Vikings! Pastries, hot dishes, cold cuts with Polish traditional mulled wine are the promised treats. The program is designed to make happy visitors of all ages.

Barbakan

The Christmas Market in Ursynów is another favorite of the locals. It sells a range of regional products, artistic objects, authentic souvenirs, and Christmas decorations, as well as Christmas foods. There’s no market without mulled wine, so don’t worry about it. This market has many activities designed exclusively for children, but there’s a lot for adults too.

Still not convinced? Don’t take our world for it. Just check out the Top five European Christmas Markets recommendations by The Sun, to see Warsaw ranking among the best in Europe!

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Presidential Suite

Sophisticated, yet laid-back, chic and oh, so luxurious, Mamaison Hotel Le Regina reminds of Warsaw’s glorious past, when the rich nobility roamed the streets, worry-free, in posh carriages, from party to party, searching for the next big social event, stubbornly killing the lassitude.

Enter the Presidential Suite at Mamaison Le Regina: battleship-sized leather sofas and vintage armchairs take the stage in the ballroom-sized foyer: this is where you welcome your guests while staying with us, or where you rest your weary body after a day of business in town. The room is sophisticated and uncluttered, with perfect floral arrangements to set the “zen,” luxe drapery in opulent fabrics, and a color scheme that soothes the eyes.

Presidential Suite

A few calming moments later, the patio doors are open: it’s here where you can relax sipping your favorite cocktail, or a glass of well chilled champagne. This veritable walled garden is adorned with fresh flowers. You will share it with a few other guests: a business man occupied with his newspaper; a romantic couple dining at candlelight…

Presidential Suite bedroom

When Hypnos finally takes over your weary eyes, and the magic of the day lingers on, as you step into the large, bright bedroom of the Presidential Suite, the enormous bouncy bed at the center of the room invites you to a land of childhood dreams. It’s the kind of experience that makes you feel fabulous, special, as you should feel a guest of Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw.

And what would be a decadent suite without an equally decadent bathroom?

Presidential Suite bathroom

A peek inside the Presidential Suite is enough to see why Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw has been nominated this year for two World Travel Awards categories: Poland’s Leading Hotel Suite 2015 and Poland’s Leading Hotel 2015. Your votes may help us win.

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Holy Cross Church Warsaw © stavrida - Fotolia.com

If you happen to be staying at Mamaison Hotel Le Regina this weekend, there are many interesting things to see and do in the city, and many of them are free. Saturday at noon, head to Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki (pl. Małachowskiego 3) for the fourth national Free Art Day edition, featuring artworks by Ai Weiwei, Edward Krasiński, Karol Radziszewski, Aneta Grzeszykowska and Sandro Miller.

On Sunday, also at noon, Bemowo Dances the Tango is a free dance workshop at Bemowskie Centrum Kultury on ul. Górczewska 201. Later, at 17:00, at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music concert hall, you can attend, free of charge, a chamber concert performed by foreign UMFC students. Among them, pianists Carlota Arcos Cano, Ricardo Ruiz Ruiz and Gulia Avellina, soprano Tatsiana Zialevich, and others. In the programme: F. Chopin, A. Skriabin, G. Cassado, G. Rossini, F. Liszt, M. de Falla. There’s also a concert of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra at the Polin Museum on Sunday, April 19, at 19:00, part of the 72nd anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Speaking of the 72nd anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, don’t miss the ceremonies at the foot of the monument to Ghetto heroes.

You can also enjoy a leisurely stroll in Park Skaryszewski, a historic landscape park in the Pradze-Południe neighborhood of Warsaw, declared the Most Beautiful Park in Poland in 2009. This is not a touristic spot, rather a local gem, designed as an urban park center for recreation and relaxation, with a developed communication network, adapted to the contemporary horse traffic. At the heart of the park there’s an artificial lake, surrounded by rich vegetation, counting about 280 species of trees and shrubs. There’s also an artificial waterfall and a beautiful rose garden, perfect for romantic walks in the summer.

Park Skaryszewski

The waterfall in Park Skaryszewski (Photo by Alina Zienowicz)

The UW Library garden on Dobra 56/66 is a true gem: it is a rooftop botanical garden, designed by Irena Bajerska, and ranking among the largest and most beautiful roof gardens in Europe. It spreads over 10,000 m², boasting a multiplicity of plant species and varieties: flowering shrubs, junipers, Siberian peashrubs, willows, dwarf mountain pines, and much more. There’s also a fish pond, connected by a stream to an artificial stone with a small fountain. Ducks are populating the waters and the shores of the pond: a true attraction for children visiting the garden. All segments of the garden are interconnected with paths, bridges, and pergolas, and the views over Warsaw from here are simply breathtaking.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist is another place you could visit without spending a dime: besides admiring its outstanding architecture and beautiful religious art, you can also come here for a concert of sacred music – albeit there is a small entrance fee charged for such events.

Warsaw is also the city of Chopin, who was born here. The official Chopin route suggested by the City of Warsaw was inaugurated in connection with the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth in 2010. When you follow the route, you will find several multimedia benches, which have an interactive sound system that will play Chopin’s music. There are 15 spots where you can rest on one of Chopin’s Benches, all connected with landmarks that played an important role in the life of the composer.

For instance, at Radziwiłł Palace, where Chopin performed for the first time in public, the bench will play RONDO in C minor, Op.1; 32”. At the Holy Cross Church, you will listen to the MEMORIAL MARCH from SONATA in B minor, Op.35; 45”; while the bench on Miodowa Street will play MAZUREK in A minor, Op.68; 34”. This is the street where you will find Honoratka, the only venue from Chopin’s time that still stands in its original form.

This is a kind of experience that completes your understanding of Varsovian tradition in unusual and unexpected ways, in tune, if you will, and perfect harmony: the kind of experience that redefines the purpose of travel, enriching your soul.

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leica

A thriving center of cultural significance, Warsaw is a destination for every budget, appealing equally to adventure travelers, culture buffs, historians, party goers, and the list could go on. This time, we’d like to introduce to you some of the most fascinating art spaces in town, featuring both contemporary and classic works, true temples of beauty, where you can enrich your soul, while getting closer to the spirit of this outstanding destination.

Our first stop is MiTo at Ludwika Waryńskiego 28, a concept cafe, that also acts as a gallery space, showcasing contemporary art by local creators, in small temporary exhibitions. If beauty is not enough, the cafe also offers an exceptional selection of books for sale: no matter what you like, you will leave this place richer.

MiTo

Leica Gallery (address: ul. Mysia 3 00-496 Śródmieście) is for lovers of photographic art. It mainly shows art by Polish artists and photographers, in temporary exhibitions (other solo, or group), mainly revolving around current trends and social realities.

Galeria Kuratorium is a space for contemporary art, but also a design store. A unique art concept space, this shop is exclusively focused on works by young local talent. What they sell here is an inspiring alternative to traditional souvenirs, authentic and valuable, an excellent choice for art collectors, but also for everyone who wants to enhance a home, or a work space, with quality artworks.

Kuratorium

More local art can be admired at Bęc Zmiana (Mokotowska 65) – a non-profit space, dedicated to the promotion of modern Polish art and culture. More than art exhibitions, this space also hosts concerts, events, readings, and other cultural activities.

The arts and culture center of Warsaw is unique, exciting, challenging and extraordinary. The locals transform simple spaces into exceptional concept venues, pretty much like Pies Czy Suka (Szpitalna 8), where you will find a design store and a cocktail bar sharing the same roof. On sale here, items by local emerging artists and craftsmen. You can sip a delicious cocktail while you admire the goods, pondering what to buy. It’s pretty hard to choose: everything is beautiful, valuable, and enticing.

Keret House

Last, but not least, the Keret House, is an ­art installation inserted between two buildings at ul. Chłodna 22.

The house’s location is where two ghettos – the large ghetto and the small ghetto met. Only a few steps from the house stood a footbridge that connected both sealed off areas.

A fully functional building, the Keret House is equipped with all the amenities required for living in the city. The Keret House is open for visitors only on selected days. Visit the website to learn when you can see this outstanding creation by Architect Jakub Szczęsny. Call it the world’s narrowest house if you will, and don’t miss it. This outstanding work of art measures 92 cm in its narrowest point ­and 152 cm in its ­widest point.

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Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw

A charming European destination, Warsaw is as interesting in Winter, as it is in Spring, or any other season. With activities and attractions for every budget, this is the perfect cityscape, any time of the year. To enjoy a great time as a couple, or as a family, take advantage of our Winter Early Bird discounts, and save 20% at Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw or Mamaison Residence Diana. For those of you planning a trip to Warsaw this season, here’s what we recommend.

diana

First, have a blast at the Winter Town at the National Stadium. This is the second edition of a festival of sorts, that brings you 3 spectacular ice rinks, an ice hill with a slide and pontoons, and even an ice bar. Of course, there are many other exciting attractions: shows on ice “Kings on Ice” and “Xtreme Ice Show,” but also a disco skating rink and toddler activities every morning.

National Winter

Escape the gloomy days with a visit at the Wilanow Palace, and lose yourself inside the Labyrinth of Light, a light art installation covering over 1000 m², in the garden at the Orangery. This year, the theme is Alice in Wonderland – and the labyrinth offers attractions for young and old. 2015 marks the third and last year when the Labyrinth of Light art installation can be seen by visitors at the Wilanow Palace. You have time till March 15, 2015 to see it. The Royal Garden of Light is open every day from 09:00 till 16:00 – tickets are affordable and grant you access to other attractions at the palace, including the Labyrinth of Light, Garden of Imagination, and the Golden Courtyard.

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Labyrinth of Light, photo by Marcin Mastykarz

Till February 15, 2015, you can still visit the largest Lego exhibition in Poland, which is on display at the National Stadium. On display, a 11-metre-long Titanic model, built with more than 500,000 Lego bricks; the new LEGO – Volvo excavator; the mock-up of the Simpsons family house in Springfield; Lego renditions of cars of the Polish communist regime era; and much more.

lego expo

Don’t forget to like Mamaison Hotels and Residences on Facebook for even more exciting travel news and updates from Warsaw, and for special offers from our hotels and restaurants.

Chopin Museum

Warsaw is advertised as the city of Chopin, because the great Polish composer Frédéric François Chopin was born and raised here. His musical genius drew inspiration for many of his early works from the life pulsing on these historic streets, and from the beautiful nature of the local parks.

“The muse of his homeland dictates his songs, and the anguished cries of Poland lend to his art a mysterious, indefinable poetry which, for all those who have truly experienced it, cannot be compared to anything else,” said Franz Liszt once, referring to Chopin.

Fryderyk Chopin Statue in Warsaw © Artur Bogacki - Fotolia.com

Fryderyk Chopin Statue in Warsaw © Artur Bogacki – Fotolia.com

In fact, Chopin loved the cradle of his youth so much, he requested his heart be removed after death and returned to his beloved Warsaw. So if you want to tour Chopin’s Warsaw, you only need to follow his heart.

Walk down Krakowskie Przedmieście, to find the Church of the Holy Cross, where the heart of the composer rests in an urn immured in a pillar. This remarkable church, one of the most visited landmarks of the city, was built between 1679 and 1757, and was a collaborative effort, involving the creative genius of several architects and artists, including Józef Szymon Bellotti, the royal architect at the Royal Court of Poland, for the main building; as well as Józef and Jakub Fontana for the towers and the facade. But nothing of the original works remains: the church was blown up by the Germans in 1945. What you see today is the work of architect B. Zborowski. Luckily, the urn containing the heart of the composer was removed during the Warsaw Uprising (1944) by the Germans, who gave it to Bishop Antoni Szlagowski. Only on October 17, 1945 the heart was returned to the church, during a ceremony that celebrated 96 years since Chopin’s death.

Holy Cross Church Warsaw © stavrida - Fotolia.com

It’s easy to see Chopin’s Warsaw like a tourist: the city celebrates its most beloved son with pride and joy, and promotes all the significant landmarks that were touched by the composer, one way or another. The official route suggested by the City of Warsaw was inaugurated in connection with the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth in 2010. When you follow the route, you will find several multimedia benches, which have an interactive sound system that will play Chopin’s music. There are 15 spots where you can rest on one of Chopin’s Benches, all connected with landmarks that played an important role in the life of the composer.

For instance, at Radziwiłł Palace, where Chopin performed for the first time in public, the bench will play RONDO in C minor, Op.1; 32”. At the Holy Cross Church, you will listen to the MEMORIAL MARCH from SONATA in B minor, Op.35; 45”; while the bench on Miodowa Street will play MAZUREK in A minor, Op.68; 34”. This is the street where you will find Honoratka, the only venue from Chopin’s time that still stands in its original form.

Honoratka

The composer used to dine and meet with his contemporaries often in the restaurant, back then called Kawiarni Honoratka. Today’s Honoratka is a place to discover traditional Polish cuisine, accompanied by the music of the master. Almost everything here is designed as an homage to Chopin: you will feel his presence, an uplifting experience, enhanced by cultural and artistic events and exhibits. And, of course, there’s even a Chopin menu.

Another uplifting experience on the itinerary is the Łazienki Królewskie Park, where, in the heat of July, August and September, every Sunday, from noon to 16:00 there are free Chopin piano concerts performed outdoors at the foot of the Chopin Monument, one of the most recognizable symbols of the city.

Łazienki Królewskie Park © aarstudio - Fotolia.com

The park used to be a playground for young Fryderyk and the son of the Prince. The gardens surrounding the various royal buildings are among the most beautiful in the city, and are popular for tourists and residents alike, not only for their outstanding landscape, but also for the events held here. Besides Sunday Chopin concerts, from June to September you can also appreciate performances by the Horse Quadrilles, which are staged on each first sunday of the month at 12:00.

Łazienki Królewskie Park is the site of the Royal Residence of King Stanisław August, today a prestigious museum, showcasing the Royal collections of paintings, sculptures, numismatics, and graphics, as well as temporary exhibitions on various themes.

No other landmark on the Chopin itinerary is as authentic as Salonik Chopinów, a small part of the flat where the composer spent his last years before leaving Poland. The flat, the only one belonging to the composer, which is still open to the general public, can be found inside Pałac Czapskich, formerly Pałac Krasińskich, and currently the Academy of Fine Arts. The apartment, however, doesn’t feature original furnishings, which were destroyed or lost during the World War II. Instead, the beautiful drawing salon was recreated in 1960 based on drawings by Antoni Kolberg.

If these landmarks are not enough to tame your thirst for knowledge, step inside Pałac Ostrogskich for the largest collection in the world of memorabilia and documents related to Chopin. One of his original pianos is still preserved here, together with manuscripts of his works, letters, notes, photographs, personal items, and much more. Unlike most museums celebrating the life and work of a local hero, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum is the most modern biographical museum in Europe. The experience is direct, hands-on, designed to satisfy curiosity and interest in visitors of all ages. 15 different rooms inside the palace are each a different “mini-museum” dedicated to the great composer.

This tour that celebrates Chopin will bring the purest of the local spirit closer to your heart. This is a kind of experience that completes your understanding of Varsovian tradition in unusual and unexpected ways, in tune, if you will, and perfect harmony: the kind of experience that redefines the purpose of travel, enriching your soul.