New Town Warsaw

Birthplace of Marie Curie in New Town Warsaw

Warsaw's most famous citizen was Marie Curie whose discovery of radium and polonium in 1898 won for her the Nobel Prize, and changed the course of modern history because it paved the way for building the atomic bomb. Madame Curie was the first woman ever to win the Nobel Prize, and she later won the prize a second time. After she married Pierre Curie, she moved to Paris where she carried on her research there with her husband; she became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics in France. Her scientific discoveries are now used in cancer treatment and in the manufacturing of medical diagnostic equipment.She also became the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne. Marie Curie died in 1934 at the age of 67 from a blood disease which was believed to have been caused by her work in isolating radioactive material from pitchblende.

The house at #16 Freta Street in New Town Warsaw, where Marie Skladovska was born on November 7, 1867 still stands, and is shown in the photo above, taken in 1998.

The street, which leads from New Town to Old Town, is filled with artists selling their wares, and street musicians playing and singing. A religious parade of very young nuns was walking down the street carrying Catholic crosses when I was there. There are many street vendors selling carved wooden statues of Polish and Russian peasants and Jews wearing traditional clothing, as shown in the photograph below.

Street vendors sell these statues in Warsaw

My first impression of these statues was that they are offensive because they stereotype the Jews. On my way down this street, the statues were selling for an average of 120 zloty or $40. On my way back, later in the afternoon, the price had dropped to 65 zloty.

At the end of the street lined with vendors and musicians you see the reconstructed brick walls of the Old Town. A gateway that looks like a tower connects Old Town to New Town. There is a statue near this gate which depicts the mermaid Syrena, who lived in the river Vistula, according to legend, and lured a brother and sister named Wars and Sawa to found the town of Warszawa on this spot. The Vistula river flows through Warsaw on the east side of Old Town and New Town. Trees and a sandy shore line the banks of the river which is a small stream.

Reconstructed tower connects New Town to Old Town Warsaw

Old Town Warsaw