This is a small, triangular square near the cathedral. The name comes from the old-style buildings surrounding the square, where canons priests lived in the 17th century. There was formerly the parish cemetery in this place, and there is a remnant of an 18th century Baroque statue of the Virgin Mary. In the middle of the square there is a huge bronze bell from the 17th which has never hung in any church, but apparently when you circle around it three times, it will bring you good luck. Kanonia has the narrowest house in Warsaw - a clever trick of the landlord, as in olden times, the amount of land taxes to be paid depended on the width of the external façade.
Old Town Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta)
Founded in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, this is one of the most picturesque corners of the city. It was once the main square of Warsaw: celebrations and markets were organised here, and legal judgements were passed on the condemned. The central part of the market was originally occupied by the town hall which was demolished in 1817, and in 1944, the Old Town was completely destroyed. All its buildings were reconstructed after World War II and their appearance is a perfect match to the Square's original look in the 17th and 18th centuries.
A legend says that in the basements of the buildings located along one side of Dekert, at the corner of Krzywe Koło, there lives a Basilisk. It guarded the treasures once stored there, and every man who tried to reach them was killed by the gaze of the Basilisk, which turns men to stone. He was defeated in the end by a wandering tailor who showed the monster a mirror. The Basilisk was petrified by its own appearance, and hid away; from then on, he was no longer a threat to residents. Today on the façade of the building there is a picture of the Basilisk, which is the symbol of the renowned Warsaw restaurant of the same name.
Monument of the Warsaw Mermaid (Pomnik Warszawskiej Syrenki)
The Mermaid Statue stands in the very centre of Old Town Square, surrounded by a fountain. Due to vandalism, the original statue had been moved to the grounds of the Historical Museum of Warsaw – the statue in the square is a copy.
This is not the only one mermaid in Warsaw. Another is located on the bank of the Vistula River near Świętokrzyski Bridge and another near ulica Karowa.
According to legend, a mermaid swimming in from the sea stopped on the riverbank near the Old Town to rest. She found the place so admirable that she decided to stay. Local fishermen living nearby noticed that something was creating waves, tangling nets, and releasing their fish. Although their original intention was to trap the offender, they fell in love with the mermaid upon hearing her sing. Later, a rich merchant trapped the siren and imprisoned her in a wooden hut. A young fisherman heard the mermaid’s cry and with the help of his mates, released her, whereupon she declared her readiness to offer fishermen her help whenever it would be needed. Ever since, the mermaid, armed with sword and shield, has been ready to help protect the city and its residents.
Museum of Warsaw (Muzeum Warszawy)
Rynek Starego Miasta 28/42
(The museum is currently under construction. It will be open for public in May 2017.)
The Museum is located in a dozen town houses that were rebuilt after the war, and consists of three courtyards. The exposition presents the history of the capital since the dawn of its history to modern times. The Museum cinema screens a video documentary about Warsaw between 1939-1945, from Tuesday to Saturday at 12:00 (it is shown in English, but also available upon request are Polish, Spanish, French and German versions). More information
From the Middle Ages to the second half of the 18th century, this was a waste dump, but today it is a man-made hill with a terrace. The view extends from the right side of the Vistula River and goes very far east.
Stone Stairs (Kamienne Schodki)
Extremely picturesque stairs that have existed since the 15th century, they led outside of the city centre's defensive walls, running past the Vistula. Initially, the steps were made of wood, and in the 18th century, they were changed to stone and gave the street its name. An interesting fact is that during one of his visits to Warsaw, Napoleon Bonaparte marched down the stairs.
Barbican and defensive walls (Barbakan i mury obronne)
The remnants of Warsaw's defensive walls, erected in 1548 by Giovanni Batista Venetian. In the Barbican (in the alleywall which links the Old and New Towns) there is an exhibition illustrating the history of the city's fortifications, with models of the towers and walls, explaining why Warsaw's Old Town is a UNESCO cultural heritage monument.
Jan Kiliński Monument (Pomnik Jana Kilińskiego) - heroic cobbler and leader of the people during the Kościuszko Uprising (18th century). More information
Little Insurgent Monument (Pomnik Małego Powstańca) - touching sculpture of a boy with a helmet much too large for him, which commemorates the heroic children who fought againts the Germans during the Warsaw Uprising. More information