Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Urban Nostalgia

"Warszawa, Warsze" is the new exhibition at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and it is a stunner. By reconstructing pre-War Jewish Warsaw with the help of maps, photos and video, it brings home how different a creature the city used to be. Apart from entire neighbourhoods that have disappeared - such as the legendary Nalewki shopping street - there is a plethora of buildings which I could only but wish were still here.

Like the Egyptian themed Kino Splendid.

Imagine seeing Cleopatra in there? The cinema was part of the Galeria Luxembourg, a glass-topped shopping arcade constructed in 1909 on Senatorska street. The whole thing burnt down in 1944.

Which is sad not because there is lack of shopping malls in Warsaw, but because there is lack of old and beautiful ones. The new Koszyki market hall project does not count, and I will begrudge them forever for closing probably Warsaw's best bar ever for it. 

The now-closed Koszyki club (2013-2014, R.I.P.)

But not everything is going downhill. Did you know the 17th-century Saxon palace might be rebuilt? 

The Saxon Palace and the Nevsky Cathedral, early 1920s

Formerly one of Warsaw's most iconic buildings, it too was destroyed in 1944. Since then, Piłsudski square has been an eye-sore: a massive, overwhelmigly empty lot in the middle of the city centre (click here if you can face it). After plans for a reconstruction were frozen due to the global financial crisis, they are back on the table; and construction might just begin in a couple of years. 

See. There is stuff to look forward to. 

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