Targówek is a district located on the right bank of the Vistula River. In regard to area – 24.22 sq. km – Targówek is 9th in Warsaw. Over 125,000 people live here.
population: 125 000
density (people / km2): 5165
area (km2): 24,2
The history of Targówek is inseparably connected with New Praga. The area of both districts was once one locality, a noble village called Targowy Mały since the 14th century, and Targówek from the 18th century. It was the property of, among others, the Lubomirski family and King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski. This unity ended in 1875 by the construction of the Vistulan Railway. New Praga was developed south of the railway line, and gained typical urban buildings, with tenement houses and factories, and already had become part of Warsaw in 1889. Whereas the area north of the railway tracks remained poor, suburban Targówek. In the late 19th century, a large settlement of proletariats was established here, with houses constructed by workers, craftsmen and shop owners. Targówek (along with Bródno) became part of Warsaw in 1916. After the war, Targówek was recognised as one of the poorest, peripheral districts of the capital city. Everything changed in the 1970’s, when the construction of a massive housing estate was begun here.
Today, thanks to well thought-out spatial development plans and good investments, bleak complexes of blocks of flats have been transformed into a place, where people live well and comfortably. A flat in Targówek, the place where “Warsaw historically began”, has simply become fashionable.
This fact is emphasized by developers, who construct modern housing estates that change the district’s landscape: Park Tivoli, Park Leśny, Klonowa Aleja, and the Wilno housing estate inspired by the buildings of Vilnius. The construction of the housing estate along with its infrastructure – cafes, shops, fountains and greenery – and the construction of a railway station are a big step towards the planned revitalisation of Targówek Przemysłowy (Industrial Targówek).
A strong point of Targówek is a network of roads assuring quick transport from the centre of Warsaw; the "Żaba" roundabout and the flyover connecting Radzymińska and Księcia Ziemowita Streets have been redeveloped; new streets have been constructed: św. Wincentego, Budowlana, Rembielińska, and Zabraniecka. The location of "Armii Krajowej" Route and the planned "Olszynki Grochowskiej" Route in the neighbourhood of Radzymińska Street determines the transport accessibility of Targówek not only for Warsaw.
The improvement of infrastructure is appreciated by both residents and investors. Thanks to relatively low land prices, companies choose Targówek Fabryczny (Factory Targówek) as the place for their head offices – e.g. the concern Procter&Gamble. The local architecture also includes shopping complexes – Carrefour, Castorama, IKEA, Decathlon, OBI, CH Targówek, and the modern Silver Screen Cinema.
The area of Targówek is naturally divided into a residential part, including Bródno, Targówek Mieszkaniowy and Zacisze – Elsnerów, and Targówek Przemysłowy.
Green areas covering over 30% of Targówek include the Bródnowski Forest, Bródnowski Park, Wiecha Park, green squares and lawns. The Bródnowski Park, located in the centre of the Bródno housing estate, covers 25.4 ha and is an attraction of the city. For recreational purposes, the district authorities provided spacious playgrounds and sports fields (the “Syrenka” multifunctional sports and recreational field was opened in 2009). The park is the favourite leisure place of Targówek residents and a unique centre for organisation of big open-air events.
The Bródnowski Park is also Europe’s unique place owing to the Sculpture Park established here. The creators of this idea were office workers from Targówek and artist Paweł Althamer. The Sculpture Park is an artistic experiment, an example of an integration of modern art and urban architecture. Sculptures and spatial structures are located amidst the park greenery; against the background of the housing estate of blocks of flats, each work presented has a different character. The Sculpture Park in Bródno, opened in 2009, was originally a project involving artists, the district residents, local government workers, and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. The project is conducted as part of the efforts of Warsaw aimed at achieving the title European Capital of Culture 2016. The district residents also eagerly relax in the Wiecha Park, which was thoroughly renovated in 2003. The park’s main section was redeveloped, new benches, pergolas and flowerbeds were created. All this combined with four fountains forms the park’s unique character.
The revitalisation of the Canal has recently begun. Preparations are being made to develop the areas along the Canal for recreational and leisure purposes. Plans also include walking and bicycle paths, little relaxation squares, playgrounds and other forms for passive and active leisure. The entire completed area will have a number of decorative structures with benches, dustbins, lanterns, fountains and bicycle racks.
Keeping the youngest residents of the district in mind, new kindergartens are being established in Targówek – on Hieronima and Turmoncka Streets, modular kindergartens have been opened recently (modular system construction lasts about a month). It is noteworthy that Targówek was the first district in Warsaw to propose and implement such a construction form.
The district residents develop their passion for sports, for example, at the sports field constructed within the "Orlik" program; it was officially opened by Portuguese football player Eusebio da Silva Ferreira.
The "Muszelka" Physical Rehabilitation Swimming Pools Complex is also invariably popular. The swimming pool is the venue of such events as the Integrative Swimming Competition “Muszelka 2010” within the Polish Special Swimming Grand Prix. The swimming pools complex is part of the outpatient physical rehabilitation clinic for children and young people. This outpatient clinic is a gift of Targówek residents for disabled children from Warsaw and Mazovia Region. The complex is one of the first facilities of this type in Europe. It is totally adapted to the needs of people with different type dysfunctions. Since 1994, Targówek has been the venue of the Special Olympics for Children and Young People – a prestigious, and very popular event (Targówek was the only district of Warsaw choosing to undertake this ambitious project).
Though Targówek is a relatively new district, it has preserved historic sites that are worth visiting, e.g. the wooden Paprocki building in 18 Biruty Street – the last example of typical buildings of pre-war Targówek.
In the Bródnowski Forest, one can see relics of a 10th-century fortified settlement. The settlement in Bródno is currently the only historically researched early-medieval settlement complex in Warsaw. Most probably in the late 9th century,
a settlement was established, and in the early 10th century – a fortified settlement. The neighbourhood of an early-medieval settlement is conducive to popularising history through the organisation of different cultural events, e.g. history fests.
For several years Targówek District has been organising the Knights’ Tournament for the Sabre of King Sigismund III Vasa, which attracts "the flower of knighthood" from all over Europe. The Days of European Heritage have also been celebrated here for several years. The culmination point of this holiday is the History Picnic held in the style of the celebrated epoch.
While in Targówek, the Bródno Cemetery – the biggest necropolis in Warsaw – is well worth visiting; its area is now about 113 ha. Such people as Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw Aleksander Kakowski, the National Democratic Party leader Roman Dmowski, and famous boxer Antoni "Kolka" Kolczyński were buried here. Next to this cemetery, one finds a Jewish kirkut established in 1780 (the oldest preserved Jewish necropolis in Warsaw), which is the final resting place of Abraham Jakub Stern, a mathematician, inventor of the calculator, and great grandfather of Antoni Słonimski.
Historical churches have been preserved in Targówek: in the Bródno Cemetery – wooden Church of St. Vincent de Paul was not damaged by the war. Timber from the scaffolding earlier used during the renovation of Sigismund’s Column was used for the church construction. In Księcia Ziemowita Street, there is the Church of the Resurrection – an original church made of railway sleepers, constructed by railwaymen, residents of 19th-century Targówek Przemysłowy. Next to the church, there is a rectory, constructed of materials from the demolition of the Orthodox cathedral in Saski Square. The Church of Christ the King – one of the three churches in Warsaw constructed as a votive offering for the victorious battle with the Bolsheviks in 1920 – is also a monument commemorating the soldiers who died defending their homeland. This battle is also commemorated by the Miracle on the Vistula monument in Bródno, funded by the residents in 1925.
On Nefrytowa Street, the Elsnerów housing estate, on the site where the country manor of Józef Elsner (composer and teacher of Frederick Chopin) was once located, the Józef Elsner monument has recently been unveiled. The present housing estate area, belonging to a state grange in the 19th century, was rented by Elsner from the government before 1830. There, he created his greatest work, “The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ” oratorio, finished in 1837 and dedicated to tsar Nicholas I, hoping that in this manner the property he had charge of would be endowed. Actually – Elsner was given the property and worked there until his death.
The building on 2 Bartnicza Street is also under preservationist care (today, it is occupied by a school complex). The edifice, designed by famous architect Zdzisław Mączeński, was constructed in 1927 in the neo-baroque style, and it was the first brick public building in Bródno.
In Targówek, the Rampa Theatre is worth visiting. The building, constructed in the early 1950’s, was the seat of the District Culture Centre for a number of years. The theatre was organised in the culture centre in 1975 by actor and director Marian Jonkajtys. The promoters of cultural life in Targówek also include the culture centres: "Świt" active in Bródno for 50 years, and "Zacisze" established 10 years later.
- the official Website of the Capital of Poland