City of Warsaw
Warsaw, in Polish language – Warszawa, is the capital of Poland and largest city in the country.
Warsaw is a major international tourist destination and an important economic hub in Central Europe. Warsaw is a place where tradition meets modernity and Western Europe meets Eastern.
Warsaw is a green city. With the Vistula river in the centre almost ¼ of its area is comprised of parks, green squares and gardens, making Warsaw a European metropolis that truly offers its visitors a breath of fresh air. Warsaw’s central location in Europe, convenient international travel connections as well as economic and political stability has ensured Warsaw to attract events of international scale. Hosting the UEFA EURO 2012™ with great success sharpened the city’s ambition to be a more frequent host to such experiences. Warsaw continues to climb world tables of cities in which it is worth investing, and keeps developing at a rapid pace.
Warsaw is the leading metropolis in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of the number of square metres of newly constructed office space (over 400,000 square metres), which are applying forenvironmental certification (LEED or BREEAM *) – according to the report Going Green In Eastern Europe, by Jones Lang LaSalle (March 2012). Indeed, Rondo 1 – the largest "green" building incentral and Eastern Europe is actually located in Warsaw city centre. Implementation of further projects of this nature will enable Warsaw to take first place in the region in terms of the number of square metres of existing "green" office space.
The city’s public transport system
Safe, rapid and convenient public transport is an incentive for metropolitan residents and visitors to leave their cars and take the bus, metro or tram, and thus reduce the harmful effects on the environment. It is an impulse that encourages implementation of many public transport investments.
The replacement of rolling stock, expansion of the metro, development of the public parks system, the "Park & Ride" facilities and associated systems for interchanging between these means of public transport, including a common ticket for all such public transport are actions that convince Warsaw inhabitants to choose this way of getting around the city. Warsaw public transport was voted best in a public opinion survey on public transport in the five largest Polish cities.
The older models of buses are now disappearing from the streets of Warsaw, being replaced by low-floor, air-conditioned vehicles specially designed to assist the disabled and parents with children in prams. Over the past three years, Warsaw has ordered more than 400 modern, clean vehicles for public transport. Since 2011 the capital has been introducing the first hybrid drive buses and trams, which reclaim energy from the braking process.
Warsaw’s metro is also developing its rolling stock in an environmentally sound way – in a tender for new trains, as many as 48% of the tender evaluation criteria related to the environment: electricity consumption, the vehicle maintenance system and environmental friendliness.
In cooperation with RWE Polska, Warsaw is preparing a pilot project to popularize electric cars. The first electric vehicles charging points have already been established. Such vehicles are being used by the city’s police force and the Board of Public Transport. Considering that driving 100 kilometres costs 3 Zloties (less than 1 euro), the only major limitation remaining is the high price of electric cars, which will fall as the availability of charging points increases.
Around Warsaw – by bike
More and more Warsaw residents are leaving their cars at home and getting on their bikes. In 2012, the city launched the Veturilo bike sharing system with unmanned bike rental facilities. It has proved a hit with the locals, as may be seen by the record 250,000 bike rentals over the first three months. New bicycle stations are appearing in both the city centre and on the edges of the city – bikes can now be rented at metro stations, major public transport terminals and near university campuses. A total of about 2,500 such bikes ride through the streets of the capital and can be obtained at 144 stations.
After registering online cyclists have at their disposal the longest network of bicycle paths in Poland - about 310 kilometres.
Cycling is the cheapest mean of transport in the city. There is no rental charge for the first 20 minutes. For the next 40 minutes the charge is just one Zloty, and for the second and third hour - 3 and 5 Zloties (about 1 Euro). The cost of the fourth and each subsequent hour is 7 Zloties (about 2 Euros). For comparison, a single bus ticket is 4.40 Zloties (about 1 Euro), which makes the cycling cheaper, healthier and as often as not, faster.
In 2012, Warsaw appointed an ombudsman for all issues relating to transport by bike, with the task, among others, of connecting the existing bike paths into long communication routes forming a coherent system, establishing separate lanes for cyclists on public roads and most importantly, taking care of the technical solutions and public awareness campaigns to enhance the safety of cyclists.
Warsaw - a green place to live
Green areas occupy 28% of the city. This comprises squares, lawns, forests and parks, in which history and the arts combine with nature. The largest of these (76 hectares) is the eighteenth-century Royal Baths park surrounding the summer residence of Poland’s last king. In this park, the most frequently visited by both locals and tourists, stands in the world famous monument to Frederic Chopin. Every Sunday in the summer, the area around the monument is transformed into an open-air concert hall, filled with live performances of music composed by Frederic Chopin, the world's most famous Warsaw resident.
A popular place for romantic walks are gardens on the roof of the Warsaw University Library. The atmosphere of concentration and learning harmonizes perfectly with the green space and panoramic view of the Vistula River.
In addition to the 76 parks, covering a total of 715 acres, other inviting attractions include the botanical gardens, the zoo, and bordering Warsaw, one of Poland’s largest national parks – Kampinos, along with the Mazovian Landscape Park. These forest enclaves offer ample opportunities for communing with nature, enjoying individual leisure and recreation activities, acquiring knowledge in the education centre and museum, or wandering the nature trails through fascinating forest habitats. Lying within the range of public transport, Kampinos offers such activities as hiking, biking and horse riding. The nearby Vistula River offers water sports, boat trips and hiking and biking along its banks. All this means that Warsaw is a city in which it is good to work, but also a fine place to relax.
On the beautiful Vistula
Flowing through the centre of Warsaw is the Vistula – a vast river, the banks of which are inhabited by numerous species of wild animals. These include elk, deer, bobcats, beavers, otters and mink. Funds from the European Life+ initiative help protect the habitat for key species of birds in the Central Vistula Valley. This is one of the last untamed rivers in Europe, where protection of endangered species goes hand in hand with ambitious plans to open up the river for the city.
As early as spring 2013, the first phase of the most important investments ever made on the Vistula will commence – a complete reconstruction of the riverside boulevards, all the way from the Copernicus Science Centre to Podzamcze. Along with the enormously popular Multimedia Fountain Park, this will be one of Warsaw’s greatest attractions.
Since May 2011, Warsaw has had a new attraction for residents and tourists. Multimedia fountains have been opened in the park between the UNESCO-listed Old Town and the Vistula. Their 367 nozzles squirt up to 30 thousand litres of water a minute. The streams and spray are illuminated by over 300 coloured LED spotlights. Dazzling laser animations appear in the mists of their spray, all to the accompaniment of music, both classical (Chopin), and pop.
Multimedia Fountain Park consists of two large fountains - the larger covering an area of over 2,200 square metres, and the linear fountain some 120 metres in length, which is called the water organ. Children can play nearby in a water playground (a so-called paddling pool) with an area of 140 square metres.
The new boulevards will become a favourite place for walks and bike rides. On the beach next to the National Stadium will be built a new beach pavilion with a café, toilets and changing rooms.
2012 saw work begin on the construction of Warsaw’s first marina. The old Czerniakowski Port - forgotten and ruined – will become a true haven for boats and barges. Along with revitalization of the river bank, Warsaw will be building a scenic 28 kilometre long Vistula bike trail to run alongside the river and connect the north and south ends of the city.
Warsaw, the clean capital - environmental awareness
Ecology and environmental protection begin with the dissemination of knowledge and public awareness campaigns. As part of the capital’s program of environmental education, even the youngest pupils in the majority of nursery and primary schools are learning how to act ecologically. Adult residents too are becoming more aware of the small, simple activities that help them live in harmony with the environment. Since 2006, Warsaw has been hosting Recycling Days – a picnic event, during which unwanted materials, such as electronic junk, etc. is collected. In exchange for plastic bottles and used batteries one can obtain geranium seedlings, herbs or garden conifers.
Today Warsaw is revolutionizing its system of segregation, collection, treatment and recycling of waste. The new rules will mean less waste going to landfill, with far more resources being recovered and used again. The new sorting system will be accompanied by a broad campaign to inform and educate the public. Warsaw is organising a multitude of environmental initiatives, as the names of selected projects prove: Festival of Trees, Earth Hour, Climate Day Picnic and Car-Free Day.
The "Czajka" sewage treatment plant
As early as 2006, the Mayor of Warsaw promised to clean up the Vistula, in other words eliminate the shameful problem of raw sewage from a city of two million inhabitants being dumped into the river. Today Warsaw treats all its waste water and the expansion and modernization of the "Czajka" sewage treatment plant is the largest environmental project in Europe to date, with funding from the European Union. The cost of this investment program amounted to more than 4 billion Zloties, about half of which was co-financed by the EU.
The Czajka covers an area of almost 53 hectares, about the same as a hundred football fields, and 24 thousand tons of steel were used in its construction.
The project has been carried out in an environmentally friendly fashion. A special trap located beneath the Vistula River pushes waste between the banks of the river as a result of pressure differences, which means the elimination of operating costs, reducing the need for external energy sources.
Warsaw is the only city in Poland and after Berlin, the second in Central Europe to cooperate under the C40 Large Cities Leadership Group towards Climate Change. Cooperation also takes place within the Clinton Climate Initiative organization and the Eurocities association. These activities result in the implementation of specific programs - thermo-modernization of public buildings, energy efficient street lighting, and the launching of environmentally friendly practices with regard to water, wastewater and waste management. Warsaw’s Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz is the president of Eurocities – a network for cooperation between Europe’s metropolises.
In 2009, Warsaw was a signatory to the so-called Covenant of Mayors for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by the year 2020. This initiative was established under the auspices of the European Commission, following adoption by the EU Council of a climate and energy package, which plans, among other things, to reduce energy consumption in the EU by 20% by the year 2020 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
In order to promote renewable energy sources Warsaw, Klagenfurt, Ravenna and Turin have undertaken to carry out studies and specialized measurements and create a common strategy for the promotion and use of renewable energy in cities. Warsaw is the leader of this project, called Cities on Power.
Warsaw to host the UN Conference on Climate Change
The choice of Warsaw to host the UN Conference on Climate Change was announced in December 2012 at a climate conference in the Qatari capital, Doha. Organization of this summit in Poland’s capital means that Poland will hold the Presidency of the climate convention from November 2013 to November 2014.
Warsaw is a city with great history and a bright future. It is worth coming here, worth seeing the city and for sure worth falling in love with it.
For more information and tourist ideas visit the Warsaw tourism website: http://warsawtour.pl/en