Tag Archives: Warsaw

Euro 2012 capitals: Warsaw

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(Image: worldcupblog.org)

Let me start by saying that I’m really not a soccer fan. But Euro 2012 is as much about the game itself as about the location: it is the first time since the fall of communism that this prestigious European Championship is held in Eastern Europe, jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Incidentally, UEFA Euro 1976 took place in Yugoslavia – a state that is no more – and the final game featured two countries that no longer exist: Czechoslovakia and West Germany. Sadly, by now both current host countries are out of the game, with Germany and Portugal qualified for the semi-finals against yet unknown rivals. But as I said this tournament has been about much more then sports. For Poland and Ukraine, it’s also about gaining a new space in the consciousness of fellow Europeans and soccer fans around the world as real places – places worth visiting, learning more about, and exploring. Read the rest of this entry

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Warsaw in old photos

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Continuing with the theme of historic photographs, I found some fascinating images of Warsaw from the 1860s – the oldest surviving images of the city. They were taken by Karol Beyer, the father of Polish photography, who in 1845 became the first professional photographer in Warsaw. Over the years he took a series of photographs of Warsaw and other Polish cities that today are priceless documents of those times. He also captured hundreds of portraits immortalizing the locals (and himself in several self-portraits like this one here).

A little history background: in Beyer’s time there was no such thing as Poland, politically speaking, since the partition of 1795 between Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary erased it from the map of Europe for the next 123 years. Warsaw became a part of the Russian Empire. In early 1860s, the unrest was brewing throughout the Polish territories. After a series of demonstrations in different cities, Tsar Alexander II declared martial law on October 14, 1861.

In this photo, taken shortly thereafter, Russian soldiers are camping on the square in front of the Royal Castle. If you’ve been to Warsaw, you surely recognize Zygmunt’s Column in the upper right hand corner. Read the rest of this entry