Churches in Warsaw
St. Anne's Church
68 Krakowskie Przedmieście St. (close to the Royal Castle)
St Anne’s survived the war with a few token scratches and a collapsed roof, but what the Nazis failed to destroy was very nearly demolished by a team of incompetent builders - by 1949 the whole church threatened to come crashing to the ground. The thoughtless construction of the nearby Trasa W-Z tunnel had led to several landslides, resulting in huge cracks appearing in the floor of the church. It took a team of 400 people two weeks of tireless work to stabilise the undersoil and shore up the foundations. Intriguingly, this wasn’t the first time St Anne’s had survived vicious conflict to find disaster around the corner. It escaped destruction during the war with Sweden (1650-1655) only to be gutted by fire two years later, apparently the victim of an arson attack. The classicist façade dates from 1788 and is the design of the royal architect, Piot Aigner. The interior holds even more classicist and rococo details. The view tower is one of the best in Warsaw.
Holy Cross Church
3 Krakowskie Przedmiescie St. (oposite the Warsaw University)
Completed in 1696 after the original church that stood here was destroyed during the Swedish Deluge of the 1650s, the vast and astonishing Baroque Holy Cross Church is a feast for the eyes, heart and soul. Brimming with spectacular golden altars, the church was like so many in Warsaw devastated during II World War. Painstakingly rebuilt at the end of the war, among the building’s many outstanding features most famous is the fact that it’s the final resting place of Chopin’s heart (the rest of him being Paris’ famous Père Lachaise cemetery).
St. Alexander's Church
Three Cross Sq.
Modelled on the Roman Pantheon, this church boasts a sculpture of Christ that dates from the 18th century. It was here that Allied secret agents met during II World War. The church's lower level is used for services for deaf mutes. Father Jakub Falkowski, parish priest of St. Alexander's, founded the nearby Institute of Deaf Mutes and the Blind.
10 Swietojanska St. (at the Old Town)
Built at the behest of King Zygmunt III Waza’s confessor, Piotr Skarga, this lovely little Renaissance church was built between 1609 and 1626 for the city’s Jesuit community. Having had something of a varied and colourful history to say the least, it suffered at the hands of the Swedes in the latter half of the 17th century, who looted it of its entire contents, and even spent time as a storehouse during the Partitions. Also known as the Holy Mother of Grace Church after the city’s patron saint, the church was returned to the Jesuits at the end of I World War only to be destroyed by the Germans in 1944. Rebuilt between 1948 and 1957, of the few remaining original parts of the interior, of particular interest is the 17th-century picture of the Holy Mother herself. The crypt, which is entered through the bookshop to the left of the church, contains the remains of Prince Karol Ferdynand Waza and Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski (1595-1640), the Jesuit priest, poet and court preacher to King Władysław IV.
St. Benno's Church
1 Piesza St.
Benno's has a wacky history. King Sigismund III was devotee of St. Benno and invited peer priests from Bavaria to Warsaw in the 17th century. Their main aim was to support Germans living outside their home country. Ironically, in 1944, the chapel was blown to smithereens by Germans. Rebuilt by the Poles in 1958, it now has an interesting interior dating from 1977.
St. Casimir's Church
New Town Market
Founded by Mary Sobieski, wife of King Jan III Sobieski, to commemorate her husband's victory over the Turkish army at the Gates of Vienna. The baroque-style church was designed by Tylman van Gameren and was completed in 1692. In 1944 it served as a Polish field hospital, and received a direct hit from a German bomb, killing more than 1,000 civilians, priests, nuns and soldiers who were sheltering inside. Today it has been fully restored and has a charred wooden cross as tribute to those who died.
13/15 Dluga St. (in front of Monument of Warsaw Uprising)
Comprising of both the St. Francis of Assisi Church and monastery and built between 1662 and 1663 by the Piarist friars, the extraordinary Military Cathedral, also known as the Church of Our Lady Queen of the Polish Crown, is the capital’s main garrison church. Having spent time as an Orthodox Church, prison, orphanage and a depot for German soldiers during I World War, the church was reconstructed based on original 17th-century drawings after independence in 1918 and became the seat of the field bishop of the Polish Army. Again rebuilt after its destruction during II World War, the church is now decorated with a peculiar mix of religious and military artefacts, including a number of large oil paintings depicting the most well known of Poland’s battles and uprisings.
St. Hyacinth Church
8/10 Freta St. (New Town)
This nice little Baroque church was built by the Dominicans between 1603 and 1639 by the architect Joannes Italus. Of particular interest inside the predominantly white interior is the Chapel of St. Dominic. Paid for by the Kotowski family and designed by Poland’s greatest late-17th century architect, Tylman van Gameren, the chapel was one of the few parts of the church to survive the war. During the Warsaw Uprising the church was used as a hospital and was almost completely destroyed in 1944. Its current form dates from 1959.
St. John's Cathedral
8 Swietojanska, St. (at the Old Town)
Originally built in the 14th century, Warsaw’s oldest house of worship is steeped in history. The last king of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski, was crowned and buried here, and in 1791 he also declared the Constitution of May 3 inside the building. The crypt holds the bodies of Henryk Sienkiewicz (writer), Gabriel Narutowicz (Poland’s first president), as well as various Mazovian knights. Other interesting details to look for include the covered walkway that links the Cathedral with the Royal Castle. It was added in 1620 as a security measure following a failed assassination attempt on King Sigismund III. As with most major landmarks, it was the scene of heavy fighting during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and was subsequently left in a heap of ruins. Rebuilt in pseudo-gothic style, the interior today boasts the gothic artworks of Wit Stwosz. The 18th century bell that was destroyed in 1944 has since been recovered and glued together, and can now be found in the centre of ul. Kanonia. On the external wall by the main entrance are fragments of a Goliath - a remote-controlled tank used by the German army.
More information: http://www.inyourpocket.com/poland/city/warsaw.html