Originating in the early 14th century, Warsaw’s striking red brick Barbican and city walls have seen a lot of changes over the years. These days, there are artists selling works in the main bastion gateway and a small museum during the summer months.
The post-war reconstruction of the Warsaw Barbican may be a little too neat and tidy for some. As an entrance to the northern end of the Old Town, however, it is inescapable and all tours of the Old Town will inevitably include a quick visit.
The city fortifications date back to the first half of the 14th century, with the Barbican itself replacing an earlier gate around 1540. Designed by Jan Baptist the Venetian, the semicircular bastions were 14m wide and 15m high, and was surrounded by a 30m moat, which is now largely grassland.
In fact, due to changing military technology, the Barbican was virtually a white elephant as soon as it was finished. Further modifications were made throughout the 18th century and it was all but destroyed during the Second World War, before the government decided to rebuild it as a tourist attraction from 17th-century illustrations in the early 1950s.
What To See In Warsaw Barbican
The Little Insurgent
These days, the Barbican and city walls make for an atmospheric entrance to the Old Town from the north, but you can also take a nice walk around the grounds on a sunny day, taking in some of the other near-by landmarks, such as the Little Insurgent.
There are usually a few artists and craftspeople selling their wares in the main entrance way and, during the summer months, there is a small museum, attached to the Museum of Warsaw, telling the story of the fortifications.
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How To Visit Warsaw Barbican
Warsaw Barbican address: ul. Nowomiejska, Warsaw 00-272 Poland
If you’re visiting Warsaw Old Town, then the Barbican and city walls are almost impossible to miss, as (appropriately) they form a barrier to the northern end of the area.
There is no cost to visit and the whole area is permanently accessible to the public.
However, there is also a small museum located inside the Barbican, which tells the story of the city’s fortifications. This is only open during high season, between June and October, as follows:
- Mon: Closed
- Tue-Sun: 11am-6pm
Entry tickets cost 12zł (8zł for concessions).
Entry is free on Thursdays.
Check the official site for the latest information, but please note that Barbican information may only be available during the summer months.
It’s also worth considering taking part in a guided tour of the Old Town for the inside history of the Barbican and city walls.
Old and New Town Districts: Meticulously reconstructed after WWII, Warsaw’s historical Old Town contains many of the city’s key landmarks, including the must-see Royal Castle, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The New Town is quieter and home to excellent boutique hotels, such as the Mamaison Le Regina. The district is full of great restaurants, but try traditional U Barssa on the Market Square, if you can’t decide.
Tips For Visiting Warsaw Barbican
- In most cases, you’ll simply pass through the Barbican in a matter of minutes, taking note of the city walls. A stroll around the whole area takes about 15-20 minutes, and you can double that if you also visit the museum.
- The entire fortifications are good for an early evening walk and even a quick way back to Castle Square if you want to avoid the crowds.
- It’s worth exploring the city walls, as there are a number of different landmarks around the grounds. As well as The Little Insurgent, you’ll also find the Jan Kiliński Monument, and a charming zodiac clock that chimes a merry tune.
- The Barbican has a very different atmosphere at different times of day.
- There is a public toilet close by: with the Barbican behind you and the Old Town in front, turn left onto the rampart and follow the road along. The signage is quite subtle, so look out for it.
Where Is This Place Located?Find this location on the Warsaw Visit Google map:
- Open the Warsaw Visit map
- Click on a marker and it will give you the name of the landmark, with a brief description and links for more information and directions. You can pan, scroll, and zoom around the map, or use the + or – buttons in the bottom left of the map to zoom in and out
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side, sorted by category. Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Each category is on a different layer, which can be switched on and off. So you can just see the Hotel or Restaurant pins, for example
- If you are using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location
Map pins are color coded:
- YELLOW: Warsaw Sightseeing
- BLUE: Warsaw Hotels
- RED: Warsaw Places To Eat – Michelin restaurants are DARK RED
- ORANGE: Warsaw Nightlife
- PURPLE: Shopping In Warsaw
- GREEN: Warsaw Transportation