Motto: Semper invicta
Welcome to Warsaw for Euro 2012
Named after a mermaid who lived in the Vistula River and seduced a fisherman or a 12th centry nobleman, depending on who you believe, Warsaw rose from the ashes of the second world war where more than 80 per cent of its buildings were destroyed, to become the ninth largest city in Europe.
War, war and more war. Hardly surprising when the city shares half its name with the word, but Warsaw has seen more than its fair share of fighting. First you have the Great Northern War of 1700, followed by the November Uprising in 1830 and let's not forget the January Uprising in 1863.
And as the red curtain of communism came down on the east side of Europe in the early 20th century the Polish-Bolshevik War saw Warsaw again under seige but the city was successfully defended from the Red Army. That was until 1945 when it was flattened during the second world war and was then under communist rule for 44 years.
The Arts. Theatre, music concerts, architecture. You name it, and it was probably held, written, performed and enjoyed in Warsaw where plenty of events still take place, like at the National Warsaw Philharmonic (below). These include the International Frederik Chopin Piano competition - the famous composer having been brought up in the city.
Places To Stay
La Regina: Just round the corner from Marie Curie's house, this hotel is situated in Warsaw's 'New City' and is perfect for the active tourist. It was one of many buildings restored after the second world war and is billed as having the best service.
Rialto (right): The city's most grandiose hotel, finished in an art deco style and with furniture that has been bought from auction houses around Europe. And we're not talking David Dickinson stuff here.
Witt: Looking for a bargain? This down to earth apartment has an old-world feel and is more than affordable for the football fan on a tight budget. A short walk from the main train station, and close to a curry restaurant, the hotel was one of the settings for Roman Polanski's epic film The Pianist.
Lazienki Park: The work of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski during the 18th century, this palatial and garden complex is a popular place to get a real feel of the old Warsaw. And you can enjoy the magnificent gardens, canals and ponds.
Old Town Square Market (right): You name it, it'll be at the Old Town Market: street vendors, cafes, shops, galleries and some of Warsaw's top restaurants, and expect more than usual while the finals are on. All surrounded by beautiful 17th and 18th century merchants' houses.
Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski): Like most buildings in Warsaw the Royal Castle was obliterated by the Germans in the 1940s but was rebuilt to its original spec, where it served as the central building of the Polish Commonwealth for many centuries.
Warsaw is a shortlisted candidate for the European Capital of Culture 2016 title. The Core Themes of its application include The Vistula: River of Possibilities, City of Talents and Warsaw under Construction.Famous Face from Warsaw
Marie Curie - of science fame. The world famous scientist, who took home not one but two Nobel Prizes, is lauded with pioneering the use of radioactivity and major advances in medical sciences. She even coined the term 'radioactivity' and has a unit of measurement named after her.