When I moved from the Mexican capital city to the Polish one, I felt completely lost when looking for the best district to live in Warsaw.
I started looking for some information on the internet and asking friends that had been living in Warsaw for a few months, and the first thing that they mentioned was: ‘Don’t look for anything in Praga district, it’s really dangerous…’.
I was extremely surprised when I heard this and of course I followed their advice and I didn’t even go to that district. After a few months of living in Warsaw I asked myself: “Why all the people think Praga is dangerous?”. It’s time explore this district! I grabbed my things, got on the tramway and there I was, a little bit concerned if I could make it to the district, but when I arrived to Praga I was shocked…
… but shocked in a good way! :)
Location and History of the Praga District
One of the first things I like about this district is that its name is easy to pronounce for me. Praga is located on the other side of the Vistula River, opposite the Old Town in Warsaw.
In the past, Praga was not considered a part of Warsaw and it was an independent, well-developed city. Around 1648, the King Władysław IV granted Praga a city charter.
Everything was perfect but most of the houses and building were made from wood, and were destroyed many times by fires, floods and foreign armies. That’s why there are basically no remains of building from that time except for one which is: Church of Our Lady of Loreto (Kościół Matki Bożej Loretańskiej), which is the oldest temple in Praga.
On many occasions there were attempts to build a bridge between Praga and the rest of the city but all of them failed, and Praga remained isolated for many many years. In 1791, Praga District finally joined Warsaw.
Praga is divided into two ‘separate’ districts: Praga North (Praga-Północ) and Praga South (Praga-Południe). Nowadays one of the most exclusive parts of Warsaw is located in those district and it’s called: Saska Kępa, where many mansions were built in the past!
The Artistic District in Warsaw
At the end of the communism era in Poland, many remarkable artists of Warsaw decided to move to Praga district, which was crowded by factory buildings and completely different from the rest of the other districts in Warsaw. Nowadays, there are many places with street-art which is amazing!
There is also a place called Soho Factory, which is one of the most artistic places in the capital. There is located the Neon Museum, among different design shops and some of the best restaurants in the city.
In Praga you will also see a cool sculpture known as the Praga Band monument. In the past, these type of bands were often playing on the streets, squares and yards of Warsaw. In the band there are a violinist, an accordion player, a guitarist, a banjo player, and a drummer.
Kino Praha is also a must-seen place if your passion are movies. In this cinema you can watch ‘unusual’ films, documentaries and during summer Kino Praha organises free outdoor film series, normally those events take place on Sundays.
Things to Do in Praga District
If you are passionate about photography, art, adventures or you just simply want to enjoy a cup of coffee in a quiet place, Praga district is for you.
In case you are visiting Warsaw and you’ve already visited the main attractions of the city, most of which are located in Old Town, I have good news for you, in Praga you will find many more activities and attractions:
1. The Warsaw Zoo
This might be the favourite place in Warsaw for all the children! This Zoo was opened in 1928, but during the war it was destroyed completely. It was rebuilt and re-opened in 1948. It is a really great place to visit! There are over 3,000 animals in here, and you can find even lions and rhinos! Which was super surprising for me considering the cold weather we have here :P
2. Koneser – old vodka factory
This was used to be a vodka factory in the 19th century and it was in operation for over a hundred years! Nowadays is no longer a factory, but it has many attractions such as: Google Campus Warsaw, hotel, restaurants and next year, in 2018, the World’s first Polish Vodka Museum will be opened there!
3. Bazar Różyckiego
This is a perfect place for Hipsters, mainly because is the oldest existing market in Warsaw! It was established in the 19th century and it is for real a unique place in the capital. During the communist era this was the main and most popular market in the city. There are legends that say that you can buy illegal Russian alcohol, cigarets or even passports inside this market.
4. Ząbkowska Street
This is one of the main streets in Praga and it is considered to be the Old Town of the district, and it is with no doubt one of the main touristic attraction in Warsaw. On this street there are many bars and restaurants, it is planned that in the future this street will become a walkway street permanently. It’s a really beautiful place!
5. Warsaw Beaches
During summer there is no better place to enjoy the perfect weather than in the Warsaw beaches! In this area you can go with your friends or family and organise a grill! Everyday hundreds of people go there to spend time and forget about the noise of the city. There are also a few restaurants, clubs or bars in case you want to dance, play volleyball or just chill.
6. National Stadium
As you know I love football, and one of the first things I wanted to do as soon as I arrived to Warsaw was to attend a football match of Poland on the stadium. This place was built for the Euro 2012, and it is the best stadium I’ve been so far in my life! It is really modern, and during winter the stadium is transformed into the biggest ice rink in Poland!
There are many more attractions in this district, and when you are walking around it sometimes you start asking yourself if you are still in Warsaw or you just switched to a new city.
Is Praga Safe or Not?
I started this post by telling my story about the comments I heard about this district, about the ‘danger’ of visiting this place, but to be honest it is just a normal part of the city with its pros and cons, just like any other place in the world. Now I’m wondering if those guys leaving reviews on internet and some of my friends actually went to this district, I guess not.. :P
I can tell you this, don’t be afraid of what you read on the internet, Praga district is a safe place and it has many things to offer, so don’t hesitate and visit this surprising district in Warsaw!