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Walk around Mokotów district

Mokotów is a district located south of the city centre. The name Mokotowo first appears in documents from 1367. In the 18th century, the wealthiest woman in Poland at the time, Princess Izabela Lubomirska, built a palace with a garden on the site. She called the residence, located on the Warsaw escarpment, Mon Coteau (My Hill) in French, perhaps referring to the area’s earlier name.
Mokotów is a vast and very diverse district. To the south of the Mokotów gates on Unii Lubelskiej Square, stretches Old Mokotów. The stately villas, detached houses and apartment buildings located there were built in the 1920s and 1930s and now form an atmospheric residential district. In the 1970s high-rise housing estates were built on the southern outskirts of Mokotów: Służew nad Dolinką, Sadyba and Stegny – the first prefab housing estates.
A distinctive feature of the district is the surrounding parks and green spaces. These are often remnants of former aristocratic estates and villages whose names have been preserved in the names of neighbourhoods.
Few people know that within the current boundaries of the district in Czerniaków there is also a gem of sacral architecture – surviving the disasters of war, the 17th-century Bernardine Church, designed by Tylman of Gameren, the royal architect of August Poniatowski.
Discover the secrets of Mokotów with us!

Old Mokotów is an atmospheric district that was built in the interwar period. It is located in the square formed by Batorego, Wołoska, Puławska and Woronicza Streets. The northern part of Old Mokotów consists mostly of low-rise apartment buildings. The further south you go, the more detached houses and villas you will find. Many of the townhouses and houses are built in a modernist style, characterised by simple forms, round windows, and tiled entrances.

Start your tour of Mokotów from the main building of the Warsaw School of Economics. It was built after the Second World War based on inter-war plans. Particularly noteworthy within it is the Parachute Hall with its pyramid-shaped glass and concrete roof.

You’ll find an equally spectacular building with a glass ceiling nearby, on Wiśniowa Street. It is the home of the Geological Museum of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Inside, it feels like you are on the set of the film Night at the Museum.

Your walking tour of Old Mokotów must also include Antoni Słonimski Square, where, in a square surrounded by pre-war townhouses, there is a socialist realist, post-war building that is home to the Iluzjon cinema, which screens old, often forgotten film classics. View the exterior of the building including the rotunda and take a moment to relax in the outdoor café.

Be sure to see the Wedel building at the intersection of Puławska and Madalińskiego Streets. It was built in line with the ideas of functional architecture. Admire the tiger bas-relief above the entrance and the recreated neon sign located on the roof.

South of Old Mokotów, a green belt runs from east to west. It includes Dreszer Park, II Jordanowski Garden and allotment gardens.

Dreszer Park is full of interesting tree and shrub species. It was founded in 1938 on the moat of the former Odyńca fort. In the summer, it hosts free jazz concerts on Saturdays. If you get hungry, be sure to cross Puławska Street to Boston Port, a restaurant famous for its excellent fish dishes. Not far from the park, on the façade of the building at 20/22 Krasickiego Street, you will see the first vertical garden designed on a wall in Poland.

If you’re walking with children, be sure to stop at the playground at II Jordanowski Garden. The mounds in it are also remnants of the fort, as is the nearby arched Czeczota Street, built on the contours of the former moat. It is also worth going further afield to the other side of Niepodległości Avenue, where there are allotment gardens. The well-tended beds, flowers, and fruit trees there create a flourishing oasis in the middle of the city.

There are several interesting parks on the edge of Old Mokotów, and most of them are on the picturesque Warsaw escarpment. Between Puławska, Spacerowa and Belwederska Streets there are three parks, forming one large green complex: Morskie Oko, the former Szustrów Park and Promenada Park. The focal point of the first of these is the Morskie Oko pond. According to local anglers, this is where you can catch the biggest fish in Warsaw.

The nearby parks, Szustrów and Promenada, are equally picturesque and there are some interesting sights. The first of these is the Szustra Palace. It was part of Princess Izabela Lubomirska’s estate called Mon Coteau, which referred to the earlier name of the area. The palace, built initially between 1772 and 1775, has been rebuilt several times over the years. Unfortunately, it was burnt to the ground during the Warsaw Uprising. It was rebuilt in the 1960s and is now the headquarters of the Warsaw Music Society. Here you can listen to classical music concerts and sometimes jazz.

Walk down the escarpment and you will find the 1899 tomb of the Szuster family. Where the park borders Puławska Street, there are two interesting architectural structures.

The first is the Mauretański House (Moorish House), a building in a neo-Gothic style with oriental elements. This is where the gate to the Mon Coteau estate and the doorkeeper’s house were located. Today, a gallery is housed inside.

The second is a Gothic House called the Gołębnik (Dovecote). From its tower, the anthem of the district, the March of Mokotów, has been sounded every day at 5 pm since 1965.

Królikarnia and Arkadia Park next door are enchanting places in Mokotów. Standing on the edge of the escarpment, Królikarnia Palace was built between 1782 and 1786 and was the home of the royal chamberlain. Rabbits were bred on his estate, which were then hunted by guests of the palace, hence the name of the place, which means the rabbit house.

During the Warsaw Uprising, the area around Królikarnia was an important place of resistance for the insurgents, which is why the palace was destroyed during the fighting. Rebuilt after World War II, it became the headquarters of the Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture. The sculptures displayed outdoors can also be seen when entering Królikarnia from Puławska Street.

If you like classical music, head here on a Sunday in August. Lying on a blanket, you can listen to concerts from the Classically on the Grass series.

Arkadia Park stretches at the foot of the palace, below the Warsaw escarpment. It is a real oasis of peace and greenery, a great place for a walk or a morning jog.

If you’re feeling hungry and it happens to be a Sunday, be sure to go to the square named after the Granat Home Army Group (Skwer Grupy AK „Granat”) on the opposite side of Puławska for the seasonal Breakfast Market. There you can enjoy delicacies from all parts of the world in the fresh air.

If you fancy relaxing in nature or swimming in a lake on a hot day, a trip to Czerniakowskie Lake [Jeziorko Czerniakowskie] is a must. A former Vistula riverbed, in the southern part there is a popular beach, along with a designated bathing area. The northern part of the approximately 2 km long lake is much wilder, and its shores are overgrown with rushes. To learn more about the unique nature of this reserve, take a walk along the nature trail around the lake.

There are other attractions to be found around Czerniakowskie Lake. One of these is the gas lantern trail, which leads through a residential area next to the lake, built in line with the inter-war garden city concept. Wander from lamp to lamp (there are 38 of them) along the route leading along Jodłowa, Kąkolewska, Godebskiego, Goraszewska, Waszkowskiego, Zielona, Orężna, Zelwerowicza and Truskawiecka Streets.

At the junction of Powsińska and Okrężna Streets, there is also a monument to a locomotive, erected to commemorate the Wilanów Railway, which ran along this route between the Belvedere and Wilanów between 1892 and 1971. You can climb on it or go inside and operate the moving knobs and controls.

In this part of Mokotów, the 19th-century Fort Czerniaków, surrounded by a moat, is also worth a visit. It houses the Museum of Polish Military Technology, showcasing military equipment once used by the Polish Army.

Lower Mokotów extends to the east of Old Mokotów. As the name says, this part of the district is located lower down and is bordered by the Warsaw escarpment. You can see the height difference between these areas of Mokotów as you walk along Dolna Street. At its junction with Belwederska, be sure to stop by the iconic Lotos restaurant, which serves classic Warsaw dishes. In rooms with décor reminiscent of the 1970s, order tartare or what is dubbed binoculars with jellyfish (pork legs with two glasses of vodka). Enjoy!

Continuing along Chełmska Street you will come across the Documentary and Feature Film Studio. It was here that famous newsreels were prepared, and many famous classics of Polish cinema were edited.

The architecture of Lower Mokotów is a mixture of pre-war and post-war buildings and, in contrast to the quiet, elite Upper Mokotów, the atmosphere here was much closer to that of the more down-market Czerniaków. The famous director Stanisław Bareja grew up on one of the streets there, and many of his film characters are inspired by real people he met there.

There is one more place worth seeing in Lower Mokotów – the ‘spy house’ at 100 Sobieskiego Street. Built between 1977 and 1978, the large block of flats with its interesting architecture was used to house staff of the Soviet Union embassy in Warsaw until 1989. From the beginning, it was the subject of wild gossip among locals, who said that most of its tenants were Russian spies and that the KGB (Committee for State Security) was stationed there. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, no one officially lived there anymore, and the complex gradually deteriorated. A nightclub operated there for a while and only those with a special pass or a Russian passport were allowed inside. There was also a years-long battle to return the building to the city and pay the outstanding fees. The building was finally taken over by the city on 11 April 2022.

Mokotów was one of the districts where fighting took place during the Warsaw Uprising. Old Mokotów, Lower Mokotów and the area around Fort Czerniaków were occupied by the insurgents. At the end of September 1944, a frontal assault by the Germans defeated the insurgents and forced them to make a dramatic escape through the sewers. These were the events that formed the basis of Andrzej Wajda’s famous film Kanał (Sewer).

Walking around Mokotów, you will find many reminders of the German occupation and the Warsaw Uprising. These include memorial plaques and bullet marks on buildings and monuments. Here are some of them:
– swastika on gallows – a drawing made before the uprising on a tenement house at the junction of Ligocka and Króżańska Streets
– the building at 8 Tenisowa Street with bullet marks
– bullet marks covered by a memorial plaque at 17 Wiktorska Street
– the building at 10 Naruszewicza Street with bullet marks
– the metal gate of the house at the junction of Krasickiego and Naruszewicza Streets with bullet holes
– the sign made after the uprising “Checked. No mines here. Zamsz” at 3A Narbutta Street.

The most important Uprising monuments:
– the Fighting Mokotów 1944 monument in Dreszera Park
– a monument to the soldiers of “Baszta”, commemorating the 140 insurgents who, after evacuating through the sewers, found themselves in German positions and were shot by them
– Warsaw Uprising Mound on Bartycka Street, built from the rubble of Warsaw. On top of it is an insurgent anchor and every year for 63 days a fire burns there to commemorate the insurgents’ struggle.

The district’s turbulent history also includes the prison on Rakowiecka Street, which now houses the Museum of the Cursed Soldiers and Political Prisoners of the People’s Republic of Poland. During the Stalinist dictatorship in Poland, it was the main political prison in Poland, and later as well thousands of people detained for political reasons were sent there.