History of Warsaw


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Warsaw history starts in the end of 13th century when Mazovian Dukes established a new town on high embankment of the Vistula River – Warsaw Scarp. This settlement was exactly where today Royal Castle is located.

  • 1413 Warsaw became officially the capital of Mazovia
  • 1526 The Duchy of Mazovia was incorporated into Poland when King Zygmunt the Old entered the city and local parliament swore allegiance to him. This event started a rapid development of the city
  • 1569 Warsaw hosts convocations of the Polish-Lithuanian parliamentary sessions when Polish-Lithuanian Union fuses
  • 1573 First permanent bridge over Vistula river is built
  • 1596 King Zygmunt III Vasa moved his residence to Warsaw after the fire at Wawel Castle in Krakow. This date is considered to be the official date of moving capital of Poland from Krakow to Warsaw
  • 1644 Column of King Zygmunt III Vasa is built in front of the Royal Castle
  • 1655-1658 United armies of Swedish and Hungarian kings ruin Warsaw during the Polish-Swedish war called in history as “Potop” (Deluge). City suffered a great loss of invaluable works of art, books, paintings, tapestries and other historic objects, all taken by the invaders. This war started a period of regression in Warsaw
  • 1683 King Jan III Sobieski breaks Turk’s siege of Vienna, gets elected and brings the new period of prosperity to Warsaw
  • 1713-1730 King August II Mocny founds the Saxonian Axis which includes the Saski Palace and its park
  • 1740 Stanislaw Konarski founded the Collegium Nobilium and started a fundamental reform of the education system
  • 1747 First public library in Poland is opened in Warsaw by Zaluski brothers
  • 1764-1772 “Golden age” of Warsaw which is developed in the Classical style and becomes the centre of Polish Enlightment under the rule of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski
  • 1791 The Constitution of 3rd May is passed in Warsaw (first in Europe, second in the world after United States of America). New constitution put foundation for modern governance and development but unfortunately did not manage to save Warsaw and Poland from collapse. Poland disappeared from the map in 1795 after the third partition made by Russia, Prussia and Austria. First partition took place in 1772, second one in 1793.
  • 1794 The Kosciuszko Uprising began as a last try to save the country from foreign invaders. Shoemaker Jan Kilinski and butcher Jozef Sierakowski led the insurgents into street battles against Russians. On 5thNovember Russians regained control over city and began a famous and dramatic slaughter of inhabitants in Praga District.
  • 1806 Warsaw became a capital of Duchy of Warsaw after Napoleon Bonaparte’s army liberated city. Hopes for independence were restored but for a long time – until Napoleon was defeated
  • 1815 Warsaw became the capital of the Polish Kingdom, a quasi-state politically dependent on Russia, but managing to keep considerable autonomy. Decision was made during the Congress of Vienna
  • 1830-1831 The November Uprising against Russia. Major battles were Belvedere battle, Olszynka Grochowska and Wawer battles. Uprising was not successful
  • 1840-1848 The first railway line was built, linking Warsaw and Vienna
  • 1863-1864 The January Uprising against Russia, also not successful. After defeat all symbols of autonomy of Kingdom were removed, schools and administration completely russified
  • 1851-1855 The first water system in Warsaw
  • 1881-1886 The first sewage system in Warsaw
  • 1881 The first telephone exchange was installed
  • 1907 The first electric trams appear in the streets of Warsaw
  • 1915-1918 During the First World War city falls under German occupation and economy into heavy crisis
  • 1918 After the war Poland becomes independent country again and Warsaw becomes the capital city of the Second Republic
  • 1920 On 15th August takes place a battle of the Vistula near Warsaw where Polish army defeated Russian Bolsheviks. In the history this battle is called “The Miracle of the Vistula” because of victory of much smaller Polish army over its numerous and strong enemy army.
  • 1935-1939 City grows rapidly under rule of Mayor Stefan Starzynski 1939 Warsaw is bombed from 1st September to 28th October. Germans proclaim General Gubernia in Warsaw
  • 1940-1942 Numerous deportations from Warsaw to concentration camps organized by Germans. Jewish Ghetto was established in Warsaw, Polish Underground State organizes various attacks and acts of sabotage
  • 1943 On 19th April Jewish Ghetto Uprising began, over 60,000 Jews were killed
  • 1944 On 1st August Polish Home Army begins the Warsaw Uprising. It continued for two months. It ended with capitulation in Ozarow on 2nd October. During the fights city was almost completely destroyed, Germans murdered civilians, Warsaw suffered lack of medicines. After capitulation rebels were deported to camps, ruins of the city razed to the ground
  • 1945 Soviet Red Army liberates Warsaw, rebuilding of the city starts as well as Soviet Communism Era in Poland
  • 1955 Warsaw Pact is signed by Eastern Bloc countries. Warsaw receives the Palace of Science and Culture as a gift from the Soviet Union
  • 1979 First pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II to Poland began in Warsaw on 2nd June
  • 1981 General Jaruzelski proclaims Martial Law. Activists of Solidarity movement get arrested in Warsaw and across the country
  • 1989 The Round Table Debates commence in Warsaw. Tadeusz Mazowiecki becomes the first Prime Minister following free elections. End of communism regime in Poland

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