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All about Warsaw

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Rhino at the Warsaw Zoo

You’ll reach the  Warsaw Zoo in less than ten minutes by car when you stay at Mamaison Hotel Le Regina. It is one of the city’s most cherished attractions, not only for its role as an animal sanctuary but also for its significant part in World War II when the zookeepers defied the Nazis by saving the lives of hundreds of Jews.  Between 1940 and 1944 Jan and Antonina Zabinski hid around 300 Jews in the “house under a wacky star” – their home at the zoo. Antonina and Jan Żabiński were honored with the Righteous Among the Nations title by the Yad Vashem Institute in Israel on 7 October 1965.

Antonina Żabińska at the Warsaw Zoo, 1933. Photo: Warsaw Zoo Archive.

The unpublished diary of  Antonina Żabińska, Ludzie i zwierzęta (People and Animals), was the inspiration for a 2007 non-fiction novel by poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman, titled The Zookeeper’s Wife. Consequently, the book hit the screens as a motion picture in 2017 starring Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Brühl, and Michael McElhatton.

The Zookeeper's Wife

Amongst the people who found shelter at the Warsaw Zoological Garden were: Magdalena Gross, Maurycy Paweł Fraenkel, Rachel Auerbach, Regina and Samuel Kenigswein, Eugenia Sylkes, Marceli Lewi-Łebkowski with family, Marysia Aszer, Joanna Kramsztyk, Eleonora Tenenbaum, the Kellers with child, Irena Mayzel, Lewy the Solicitor, Kinszerbaum and Dr Anzelm, according to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews “Polish Righteous – Recalling Forgotten History” project.

The zoo was bombed in 1939 and many animals died, including apes, an elephant, and a giraffe. After the surrender of Warsaw to the Germans, the Nazis transferred some of the most valuable animals to the Schorfeide reserve in Germany, then shot the other animals. The zoo was closed and it only reopened in 1949.

Today, the Warsaw Zoo is one of the busiest and most popular in Europe. It cares for over 4200 animals and welcomes over 1,000,000 visitors annually.

A lion at the Warsaw Zoo.
A lion at the Warsaw Zoo.

Warsaw Zoo Today

Visitors can admire all kinds of animals at the Warsaw Zoo:

  • meerkats sharing a facility with giraffes and bongo antelopes as they would live in nature
  • gorillas – including Azizi, the leader of the band
  • Mendoza, a magnificent and majestic condor
  • sloths, like Paavo and his companion Amy
  • Cocoro, one of the largest toucans in the world
  • Cuba and other Indian rhinoceros
  • Hugo the hippopotamus
  • Leon, the  magnificent elephant and his herd
  • Lucy the chimpanzee and her family
  • Beata the black jaguar, and many other animals

While walking around the zoo, you can not miss the beautiful bronze sculptures depicting animals. They are accompanied by descriptive labels in the Braille and sound as part of the educational path for the blind and visually impaired.

There are 13 gastronomic outlets operating seasonally in the Warsaw Zoo so you will have plenty to choose if you are hungry. Plus, the zoo has its own restaurant, Tembo, and a bar,  Belwederek.

The zoo is open daily from 9:00. More information, in Polish, on the official website.

For more attractions in Warsaw when you stay at a Mamaison hotel, see this link.

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book and coffee

Who said books are old-fashioned and the Internet will replace reading paperbacks? In Warsaw, they are making a strong comeback in hipster cafes that stock all kinds of titles to create a pleasant atmosphere for clients but also to promote culture and the arts.

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Greetings From Jerusalem Avenue

Greetings From Jerusalem Avenue: as you walk in the Powiśle neighborhood of Warsaw, you cannot miss the once controversial epoxy-resin Palm tree created by artist Joanna Rajkowska and erected at General Charles de Gaulle roundabout – at the junction of Aleje Jerozolimskie (Jerusalem Avenue) and Nowy Swiat (New World) – on December 12, 2002.

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Winter Wonderland in Warsaw

Winter Wonderland is our special discount for the season, but also a state of mind in Warsaw. If you visit the sprawling capital of Poland from December until the end of February 2018, you may think that there are fewer things to see and do than in the warmer months. But Warsaw will surprise you. Here are some of the most exciting things that will make your winter holiday in the Polish capital a fantastic experience.

Of course, you can always stroll around the Old Town, which is beautifully illuminated in December in Christmas lights. There’s also an ice rink in the Old Town Square. Another ice rink will be available during the winter at the “PGE Narodowy” stadium, the National Stadium Warsaw, with added attractions like a skate park, curling sheet, multi-lane slides, and all sorts of musical and sporting events.

The Figlowisko ice rink will open too. The indoor ice rink stay open 24 hours a day, welcoming children of all ages, as well as adults.

Figlowisko
You can sip mulled wine at the Christmas market, visit a museum, go shopping and food tasting at Hala Koszyki, people watch at a cozy cafe. Yes, these things are pretty standard. You can also opt for one of the top things to do with children, as many of these attractions remain open in winter too. But what if you want more? Here are our suggestions.

Acro School Warszawa

For those interested in kitesurfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, free-running, surfing, freeskiing, land kiting and skateboarding, look no further than Acro School, a new initiative designed exclusively for active people. But what truly sets AcroSchool apart is its Poweriser offer. Even if you have never jumped on Poweriser jumping stilts, you can enjoy the thrill, here, in safe conditions. Packages for all skill levels, children, and adults alike.

Go horseback riding at Stajnia Agmaja

Stajnia Agmaja are stables, offering recreational horseback riding, hippotherapy, a mini zoo, social bonfires, costume balls, gala events, and a lot more. This is an ideal place to spend a quality afternoon with your family, but can also be booked for longer horseback riding trips for groups.

Stajnia Agmaja

Stajnia Agmaja

Winter Wonderland in the magic garden at the Wilanów Palace

The King’s magical garden at the Wilanów Palace is a fascinating winter wonderland too. The children will love the mysterious passageways glittering with thousands of Christmas lights. They will discover huge flowers, animals, and fairytale creatures in what becomes a giant outdoor playground designed by Santa Claus. The “Royal Garden of Light” is an elegant, sophisticated exhibition, directly referring to the Palace’s architecture and history. Every element and detail of the exhibition refers to the iconographic sources, Jan III Sobieski’s coat of arms and the Palace symbolism. The exhibition also features three-dimensional light and sound shows screened on the facade of the palace every weekend.

Wilanów magic garden

The magic garden at the Wilanów Palace is open until February 25, 2018, daily from 16:00 to 21:00 (Photo: Marcin Mastykarz via Muzeum Pałacu Króla Jana III w Wilanowie on Facebook

Go Skiing in Park Szczęśliwice

Park Szczęśliwice is just a short 20-minute drive from Warsaw and a top spot for the locals for all-year skiing and snowboarding because it boasts Górka Szczęśliwicka, an artificial hill perfect for the two sports. They also have offer skis and snowboards rentals, so there’s no problem if you fail to bring along your gear. The slope has an area of 9,500m² covered with a Dendix mat, which, in the absence of, or low amounts of snow, can be covered by a snow cannon. A chairlift with a capacity of 1200 people per hour and a ski lift with a capacity of 700 people per hour serve the site.

Górka Szczęśliwicka

Górka Szczęśliwicka (Photo courtesy Polska na Weekend)

Besides this famous spot, the hills of Królikarnia and Moczydło are favored for another beloved winter pastime: sledding.

Eat traditional Gołąbki

Gołąbki are cabbage rolls filled with minced pork or beef, chopped onions, and rice. They are the traditional food of the winter, served in most Polish restaurants as a simple, hearty, comfort-food that reminds of childhood and the food served in rural homes. One of the best restaurants to enjoy this specialty is Gościniec – Polskie Pierogi, which is also famous for its delicate fried dumplings and liver served on a hot cast-iron platter:

Gościniec - Polskie Pierogi

There are two Mamaison hotels to offer you a warm welcome this Christmas season in Warsaw: Mamaison Hotel Le Regina and Mamaison Residence Diana. Both participate in the Winter Wonderland special promotion, which gives you a 15–20 % discount on your accommodation, as well as attentive pampering upon your arrival. You can continue to follow us on Facebook for more tips and information on winter activities that make your holiday in Warsaw this season a memorable experience.

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warsaw

With two hotels in Poland’s capital of cool, Mamaison Hotel Le Regina and Mamaison Residence Diana, we are more than an ideal choice for travelers who visit Warsaw with children. We have excellent conditions for you to spend a family vacation with the comfort of a true home in our hotels. If you plan to visit Warsaw with children, here are some of the most fun activities to keep them entertained.

Take the Kids to the Warsaw ZOO

The Warsaw Zoological Garden (Miejski Ogród Zoologiczny w Warszawie), known simply as the Warsaw ZOO, was established in 1928. It is one of the most popular zoos in Europe, and it welcomes around 1,000,000 visitors annually. It is famous for its elephants, but it also has an impressive shark aquarium and an indoor pool for hippos. Children will also enjoy the ‘Fairytale Zoo’ (Baśniowe Zoo), where they can pet and feed the animals.

Copernicus Science Centre

The Copernicus Science Centre (Centrum Nauki Kopernik) on the bank of the Vistula River is one of the most interesting attractions for children in Warsaw. It organizes Family Workshops, where children (5–8 years old) together with their parents or carers can carry out experiments, and it also has sections designed with young minds in focus: for example, the Buzzz! gallery for preschool children and the RE: Generation gallery for young adults.

Take Them to the Planetarium

Heaven of Copernicus (Niebo Kopernika) is part of the Copernicus Science Center. It is a young institution, operating only since June 2011. It boasts a dome with a spherical screen having a diameter of 16 m, with 4 digital projectors, planetarium projector system and devices for laser shows. It can accommodate 139 viewers at a time for any show.

Relax in Nature at Jezioro Zegrzyńskie

Jezioro Zegrzyńskie, or the Zegrze Reservoir, is a popular summer destination for locals and tourists alike. It has excellent conditions for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. There are regular sailing races on the lake, which attract both professionals and amateurs. In the winter, when the lake is frozen, it can be also used for ice skating.

Go for a Cruise

The Cruise ship to Serock (Rejs statkiem do Serocka) departs every weekend, May to September. It is offered by the Żegluga Stołeczna company. The “Zefir” ship departs from the landing at Podzamcze next to the River Cafe.

Besides these attractions, the city boasts numerous entertainment centers, playgrounds, parks, cafeterias serving delicious cakes, family-friendly restaurants, theaters, and cinemas. You will always find something interesting to do with the little ones.

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You don’t always have to count on the mainstream media to learn that one of your favorite destinations is “cool,” but when they rank it as the “Coolest Capitals in Europe” things change. Because you know that, with superlatives, the crowds flood in. Prices rise. Quaint parks get busy. Your secret spots are not-so-secret anymore. And, Warsaw is now “Poland’s capital of cool.”

According to The Independent, one of the several publications that now describe Warsaw as a “cool” spot, the Polish capital is “abuzz with creativity,” boasting hummus bars, design shops, hipster squares, playful cafes, and the list goes on. Verve Magazine describes Warsaw as the rebuilt capital of Poland, famous for its pulsating nightlife – a city reborn, rebuilt with “eerie accuracy.” We live metaphors and superlatives. We love Warsaw.

The Courier describes this Mamaison address as an exciting city break destination, “packed with museums, bars, nightlife and a whole lot of history.” These are three of the main players praising Warsaw and setting it up as the coolest destinations in Europe in 2017. This means that tourist numbers will soar this year and that prices for accommodation are also going up. But Mamaison still keeps balance with Mamaison Hotel Le Regina and Mamaison Residence Diana – you can still book with us at exceptional prices – provided that you book directly on our sites.

Warsaw deserves the monicker of “capital of cool.” Where else would you find “Bach in the Subways” concerts, Chopin tours, and traces of John Paul II? The city offers something for all ages if entertainment is your concern, as well as lively activities in nature, and a wealth of things to see and do for art lovers. If culture is your thing, also check out our five must-see museums in Warsaw that are usually not recommended by mainstream publications and travel guides. Bookmark our official blog for more insiders’ tips worth knowing before mainstream media finds out about them!