On ul. Świętojańska, north of the castle, stands St John’s Cathedral, the oldest church in Warsaw. A few yards away, the Old Town Square (Rynek Starego Miasta) is one of the most remarkable bits of postwar reconstruction anywhere in Europe. Flattened during the Uprising, its three-storey merchants’ houses have been rebuilt in near-flawless imitation of the Baroque originals. It’s also home to the Warsaw Historical Museum (closed at the time of writing, due to reopen by early 2014; w www.mhw.pl), where an English-language film shows poignant footage of the vibrant, multicultural 1930s city and the ruins left in 1945. Crossing the ramparts heading north brings you to the New Town Square (Rynek Nowego Miasta) at the heart of the so-called New Town (Nowe Miasto), the town’s commercial hub in the fifteenth century but now a quiet spot to escape the bustling Old Town.

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