Warsaw is expecting thousands of guests from all over the world

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Warsaw is expecting thousands of guests from all over the world. Fot. S.Szczygieł
Warsaw is expecting thousands of guests from all over the world. Fot. S.Szczygieł

In less than a month, on 20th July, pilgrims from all over the world will arrive in the Polish capital to take part in events preceding the World Youth Day in Krakow. The events will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Warsaw and the Warsaw-Praga Diocese supported by the City of Warsaw.

“I am glad that Warsaw will host pilgrims on their way to meet the Holy Father, Pope Francis. We would like their stay in Poland’s capital to be safe, attractive and unforgettable. We have prepared an interesting cultural programme, an excellent concert in Piłsudskiego Square, and the Metropolitan Culture Zone in Hoovera Square. The pilgrims will receive the city guidebook presenting our city, its monuments, and history, and also its modern-day attractions. They will also have the opportunity to send postcards, prepared especially for the occasion, to a chosen place around the world”, says Ms Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Mayor of Warsaw. “I am convinced that the week spent by the pilgrims in our city will be an exciting experience, and their memories will be full of cultural attractions, and new personal and spiritual experience. I am also sure that Warsaw and Poland will be remembered by thousands of guests as an open and hospitable place, full of kindness and laughter,” adds the Mayor.

Each registered participant in World Youth Day in the Warsaw Archdiocese and the Warsaw-Praga Diocese can take advantage of the numerous facilities and attractions prepared by the organisers.

City volunteer work
During the “Days in the Dioceses”, pilgrims and tourists will be supported by 600 volunteers. They will work in the city’s most important locations: the airport, railway stations, in the vicinity of tourist attractions, and in the churches visited by the guests. Volunteers will also help organise cultural events and social projects dedicated to the “Days in the Dioceses”. The volunteers will provide support and all the necessary information, e.g. on public transport, the programme of events and the capital’s tourist attractions. Volunteers will cooperate closely with the organisers and services responsible for security. They will be wearing matching outfits, blue T-shirts with “VOLUNTEER” prominent on the back. They will be trained in first aid, interpersonal and intercultural communication, safety, and knowledge of the city. Volunteers will appear at airports and railway stations before 20 July and will also be present during the time the pilgrims return from Krakow.

Free entrance to museums
Museums operating under the supervision of the City of Warsaw, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Office of the Marshal of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship and the Polish Army Museum and Diocese Museums, will be available free of charge for participants in World Youth Day from 20 to 25 July. In addition, museum entrance for organised groups has been arranged free of charge on 21 and 22 July, planned as Days of Culture and History. The groups were registered by the Diocese Registration Centres in both dioceses in Warsaw.

The Metropolitan Culture Zone
Meeting the needs of residents, tourists and participants in the “Days in the Dioceses” preceding World Youth Day, the Metropolitan Culture Zone will operate in Hoovera Square, near Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. It will be a place where you can meet interesting guests, enjoy open-air cinema, and take part in leisure activities. Numerous cultural, sports and social events organised by the Centre for Thought of John Paul II in Warsaw will take place there. Their theme revolves around mercy and solidarity, and the aim is to show their role in the heritage of John Paul II, in the history of Warsaw and Poland, and today. “The Metropolitan Culture Zone is not only a space in a geographical sense”, says the director of the Centre for Thought of John Paul II, Norbert Szczepański. “We have been creating it for young people, who wish to experience the unique atmosphere of World Youth Day before they meet Pope Francis. We have invited a lot of partners to co-create this place and its rich cultural programme. All our activities are a response to the needs of the young people who are coming to Warsaw to explore the life of John Paul II,” says Norbert Szczepański, Director of the Centre for Thought of John Paul II.

Within the Metropolitan Culture Zone, several exhibitions have been mounted, including a large project carried out by the Centre for Thought of John Paul II and the Museum of Polish History. It is an exhibition entitled “John Paul II. The Origins”, open from 20 July to 15 August (from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) in a specially arranged pavilion in 66 Krakowskie Przedmieście St. in front of the Central Agricultural Library. The exhibits are to bring the viewers closer to the turning points and figures related to the history of Christianity in Poland. John Paul II is the Narrator who will lead the visitors. His thoughts and comments relating to the spiritual history of Poland will be displayed on special panels in successive exhibition spaces dedicated to the Baptism of Poland, the saints in Polish history, Saint Faustyna, Saint Maksymilian Kolbe, and the Blessed Rev. Jerzy Popiełuszko. The narration’s order and chronology will be introduced by selected dates and places significant to Polish history. The starting point of the timeline is the date of Mieszko’s baptism in 966, the names of the main settlements and the duke’s residences, and it will end in the Third Millennium Gate, relating to the one built by the Lednickie Lake. Entrance to all the events is free.

Concert “Wiara. Nadzieja. Miłość” (“Faith. Hope. Love”)
The concert prepared by Stołeczna Estrada is a joyful and multi-dimensional show, with which Warsaw wishes to welcome the participants in World Youth Day. This large artistic and media event will take place on 21 July at 7:30 pm in Piłsudskiego Square, with thousands of young spectators from all over the world and their hosts from Warsaw and the Mazowsze region.

Over 200 artists from all over the world will perform on this specially designed, multi-level stage, including artists from Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, the Philippines, Mozambique, the UK, and, of course, a number of Polish artists.

The concert will feature Zygmunt Staszczyk, Zbigniew Wodecki, Piotr Cugowski, Janusz Radek, Natalia Szroeder, Piotr Kupicha, Tomasz Szczepanik, Zofia Nowakowska, and Sound’n’Grace, just to name a few. The soloists will be accompanied by the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra, the Gaudium Choir of the University of Wrocław, the Choir of the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, and the Choir of the General Tadeusz Kościuszko Military Academy of Land Forces in Wrocław. The artists will be conducted by Piotr Rubik and Radosław Labahua. “The greatest pleasure for me is that the audience leaves my concerts smiling, moved, full of positive energy. Thanks to this, we make the world a better place. I am glad that we have the opportunity to impart this artistic energy to guests from all over the world, and that they will return home remembering Warsaw and Poland as a positive place on the Earth,” says Piotr Rubik, a conductor and a composer.

Warsaw postcards, World Youth Day seal prepared for the occasion
The City of Warsaw has prepared several thousand occasional postcards promoting Warsaw, and as many stamps, in order to enable the pilgrims to send greetings from the Polish capital to any place in the world. Each postcard will be stamped with a special seal prepared for the occasion. The promotional stand of Warsaw will be open on 21 July from 5 pm until the end of the concert on Piłsudskiego Square. The activity is being carried out in cooperation with Poczta Polska.

Warsaw guide
To make getting around the city easier, each participant will be provided with the Warsaw Guide in Polish and English, presenting our capital city, its monuments, history, and modern-day attractions. The guidebook also includes essential information, which will be of use to the guests during the week in the dioceses and after its end.

WarsawTour app
The Warsaw Tourist Office has prepared the WarsawTour app, which will enable tourists and pilgrims to plan sightseeing tours of Warsaw. The app operates both online and offline, and it facilitates planning a sightseeing tour of Warsaw according to individual preferences. By choosing one of the 16 themes for walks, the users decide whether they wish to get acquainted with the unique history of Warsaw, follow the trail of the Warsaw Uprising, Judaica, or places related to John Paul II.

Fountain shows in Podzamcze
Between 22 and 24 July, at 9:30 pm, special shows of multimedia fountains in Podzamcze will be organised. The musical setting of this multimedia show entitled “The Mermaids of Warsaw” was prepared by the world-famous master of electronic sounds. Jean Michel Jarre selected the most popular and the most recognisable pieces from his repertoire exclusively for Warsaw.

Events in the districts
Apart from the concert in Piłsudskiego Square and the Metropolitan Culture Zone functioning during the whole week of the pilgrims’ stay, Warsaw’s districts have also prepared cultural events for guests, including concerts, guided tours, artistic events, sports and leisure picnics.

Thanks to free public transport, young pilgrims will be able to get around the capital city conveniently. Holders of DwD (the Days in the Dioceses) ID badge will be entitled to free public transport within the city’s zones 1 and 2, and to free railway tickets on routes of the Warsaw Commuter Railway (Warszawska Kolej Dojazdowa) and Mazowieckie Railway (Koleje Mazowieckie) within the Mazowieckie Voivodeship, from 20 to 25 July 2016.