In Warsaw, Mokotowska Street Offers Shoppers a Showcase of Polish Creativity
At the bustling Mokotowska Street at the end of March, where a wide boulevard turns into a cobblestoned promenade and a pair of pedestrian gates mark the entrance to a pedestrian plaza, people walk briskly, while a few linger on the streets as if in a trance. In the plaza, a woman is reading a newspaper, her back turned to the pedestrian gate and, behind her, another woman is standing next to a table with a glass of wine and the menu from a café on the other side of the street.
The plaza is a hubbub of life, the setting for some of the world’s most famous pop-art murals, the scene of a wedding, the site where a couple’s kiss might not be a kiss at all, where an exhibition of drawings by Polish artists would be unveiled to the world, and of course, the meeting place for people seeking a good laugh and a warm place to get to know others.
Yet a few hours from now, that vibrant, colorful plaza will be nearly empty as shoppers return to Poland’s most popular shopping street, the narrow pedestrian thoroughfare Mokotowska Street, which runs parallel to the busy streets of Wawel Castle’s outer perimeter, but, crucially, offers a different type of experience altogether: Poland’s most popular shopping street offers a different type of experience altogether: Poland’s most popular shopping street offers a different type of experience altogether, or, in fact, more often than not, a completely different type, depending on the day, the time of day, and the season.
On the other end of Mokotowska Street is the Warsaw neighborhood of Krakow, which, in the spring of 2016, was named an “Art District” by UNESCO. That doesn’t mean, on the surface, that Krakow is an art district, although there are galleries and museums that showcase the world’s most celebrated contemporary artists and curators. This is one of Poland’s most ethnically diverse communities, and Krakow has one of the most active art scenes in all of Europe, with