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Perspectives on Warsaw

Warsaw may not be a beautiful city in the traditional sense of the word, but it sure is a very interesting and vibrant place. Built up from the ashes in the 1950s it was constructed with communist ideals und new technological developments in mind. The streets are broad and made for a lot of traffic, while residential buildings rise up in the sky surrounded by a surprising amount of green. Since the 90s Warsaw is the undisputed capital of capitalism in Poland, so many new skyscrapers were built since then. Nowadays the communist and capitalist structures form an interesting although at times contradictory symphony.

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Warsaw on the Waterfront

Flowing through Polands capital city the Vistula is a wild and largely untamed river. Although the old town is located close to the water it lies on a hillside, the proper city center is situated ever farther away. The surroundings of the Vistula consist mostly of more or less wild greens. At some arms of the river you’ll find apartment buildings too, similar to the Alte Donau area in Vienna. There are some sandy parts as well which are flooded with people in summer. The sunsets are indeed gorgeous there.

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Cathedrals of the Working Class: Rabenhof in Early Spring

After the devastations of World War I and facing huge societal and economic challenges the people of Vienna craved for change. A special problem were the poor living conditions of the working class, which very often lived in large tenements without warm water and communal toilets on the corridors. Large families lived in small apartments and very often they had to accomodate additional roomers to afford the overpriced rent. For these and other reasons the Socialist Party of Austria (SPÖ) was voted into power and planned a radical rethinking of the city in the 1920s. Large and modern communal building called Gemeindebauten were to be built with large inner yards for the workers to gather and thick walls to protect them. Among the first ones to be built was the Rabenhof in the 3rd Viennese district. Today known among Austrians mostly for the theater with the same name, which is located at the spot were the gathering hall for the workers used to be. The rent in these buildings was much lower and affordable, at the same time though the standard of living was much higher with private toilets, launderettes, private parks and a kindergarten. The same is true today as every 4th Viennese of different economic backgrounds lives in a Gemeindewohnung, around 3.500 of them in the Rabenhof building.

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