Mermaid of Warsaw

Generała George’a Smitha Pattona, 00-401 Warszawa, Poland

There’s a legend about the origin of Warsaw in which a peasant named Wars is directed to the site by a mermaid named Sawa—hence the Polish name of the city, Warszawa. Today, Sawa serves as the official emblem of Warsaw, and statues of the syrena (meaning both “mermaid” and “siren” in Polish) are scattered all over town. The most fascinating version can be found in the Powiśle district near the Świętokrzyski Bridge. Polish sculptor Ludwika Nitschowa created the statue in 1936, using Krystyna Krahelska, a student of ethnography at the University of Warsaw, as his model. As the story goes, Krahelska was also a poet, girl scout, and soldier of the Polish Home Army, but died at only 30 years old on August 2, 1944, just a day after the start of the Warsaw Uprising.

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City of Mermaids

The Mermaid (Syrenka) can be seen all over Warsaw and is the city’s emblem. The emblem can be found on all the Warsaw trams, buses and taxis. The Mermaid Statue stands in the very centre of Old Town Square, surrounded by a fountain. Due to vandalism, the original statue had been moved to the grounds of the Historical Museum of Warsaw – the statue in the square is a copy. According to legend, a mermaid swimming in from the sea stopped on the riverbank near the Old Town to rest. She found the place so admirable that she decided to stay. Local fishermen living nearby noticed that something was creating waves, tangling nets, and releasing their fish. Although their original intention was to trap the offender, they fell in love with the mermaid upon hearing her sing. Later, a rich merchant trapped the siren and imprisoned her in a wooden hut. A young fisherman heard the mermaid’s cry and with the help of his mates, released her, whereupon she declared her readiness to offer fishermen her help whenever it would be needed. Ever since, the mermaid, armed with sword and shield, has been ready to help protect the city and its residents.

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