City Paths, or Miejska Ścieżka, is a free-download series of audio guides to Warsaw. Culture.pl also has its own Warsaw walks in the guise of its series Unseen Soundwalks.
City Paths, or Miejska Ścieżka, is planned around a range of themes, the tours allow visitors to explore the city with the knowledge of local guides.
Harnessing the knowledge of longtime Warsaw residents, along with the expertise of consulting ethnographers and cultural anthropologists, City Paths offers visitors an exciting new way to take in the capital. Available for free download from the website, the audio tours guide listeners through the city, providing historical information and anecdotes along the way. Each tour has a distinct starting point, from which the guides provide all directions needed (supplementary Google maps are also posted on their website). For those wishing to take the tours at a slower pace, or to pop into a shop or stop for a drink, the audio can be paused then resumed at any time. Each route is designed to last for approximately one hour.
Before we break down what they have, we can't help but toot our own horn. Culture.pl's Unseen Soundwalks currently has two seasons available as a podcast in most podcast apps, but is best experienced in the Echoes geolocative app. Using Echoes, as a user walks around Warsaw they are automatically regaled with tales of Warsaw's past as they enter certain areas. The first season of Unseen Soundwalks concentrates on the area around Plac Defilad and the area's Interwar history before the Palace of Culture and Science was erected. Meanwhile, the second season, created in partnership with the Warsaw Rising Museum, is all about key moments in the Warsaw Uprising, a pivotal event in the city's history that took place across 63 days in 1944.
Available tours from Miejska Ścieżka include:
Nature in Warsaw – “Warsaw is often called a green city. Go for this walk and discover for yourself how green it is.”
Żoliborz in Love – “What does the first Polish avant-garde house look like and who used to live there? Where in Żoliborz is the Source of People in Love? Have a look at romantic places in the neighborhood which is hard to part with.”
Ochota During WWII – “What did everyday life look like under the Nazi occupation? Where did the uprising soldiers fight? Go for a walk around Ochota and discover it for yourself."
Ursynów District – “Ursynów is the largest housing estate in Warsaw. It was built in the '70s as a result of communist housing policy. If you want to see how people familiarized these foreign blocs, go for this walk.”
Warsaw Dissidents – “Working and standing in lines, discussions and detentions…this was the everyday life for women of the democratic opposition. Listen to how they remember their everyday struggle, walk with them around Warsaw.”
The '60s in Warsaw – “Get to know the Warsaw of the '60s, a city where socks and cucumbers drove along the streets and kittens would turn up at fajfs at the ‘Stodoła’ club.”
Between World Wars – “During the twenty years between the world wars Warsaw experienced a shift from being a provincial Russian city to becoming a modern, fun-loving capital; a city somewhat dirty and, at times, dangerous, but full of life….That whole world ceased to exist when World War II broke out. Try to find its surviving remnants.”
Criminal Warsaw – “What did ‘to hug a titmouse’ mean in the thief slang of the olden days? Over centuries, in the Old Town and the adjoining neighborhoods the world of the elites intertwined with the rough street reality... Discover crime-related stories you’ve never heard before.”
Praga: a Multicultural District – “Dzień dobry! Shalom! Dobry deń!, that’s how people greeted each other in Praga a hundred years ago. Today, apart from the Polish Cześć, you’ll hear there the Vietnamese Hi!, the Chechen Salam! and the English Hallo! Go for a walk following the multicultural route and see where you can use each of these words.”
City Paths is the brainchild of the Witold Dynowski Ethnographic Workshop, formed on the initiative of students and graduates of the Warsaw University Institute of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology, who have built their guides around narratives and expertise of locals with experience in the areas covered. What better way to learn about the experiences of those who opposed the communist regime than to walk the city along with a guide who was herself a dissident? City Path guides are an engaging way to explore the past and present of this exciting city.
All tours available on their website.
Edited: Alena Aniskiewicz 10.07.2013; additions by AZ, Aug 2020