On the Vistula River, Warsaw is the capital and largest city in Poland. Known as the Phoenix City, for having survived through many wars and invaders, the city today is a thriving cultural center with a modern skyline (although some ornate, historical buildings remain). More than 40 percent of Warsaw is parkland and other outdoor space. The symbol of the city is a mermaid, and one can be seen on many Warsaw event venues and statues, especially in the historic Zoliborz district. In summer 2012, the city will host the first game of the European soccer championships.
The international airport is the Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW), six miles southwest of the city center, which receives almost 10 million passengers a year and has direct flights to Chicago, Newark, New York City and Toronto on LOT, the Polish national carrier.
Largest among Warsaw event venues is the 15,000-square-meter MT Polska Trade Fair & Congress Center, which has a 10,000-square-meter exhibit hall for up to 6,300 persons, 4,000 square meters of outdoor space and 1,200 square meters of meeting rooms.
Hotel venues in Warsaw include the 314-room Hilton Warsaw Hotel & Convention Center, which has 12 meetings rooms and the Warsaw Hall for up to 1,850 persons; the 350-room Sheraton Warsaw, which has 14 meeting rooms, mostly named after other European cities, and a ballroom for up to 600; the 343-room Sofitel Victoria Warsaw, which has 13 meeting rooms and the Sala Balowa for 650; and the Hyatt Regency Warsaw, which has eight meeting rooms and the Regency Ballroom for up to 352 persons. Approximately, 35 miles from Warsaw, in the small town of Rawa Mazowiecka is the 522-room Hotel Ossa Congress & Spa, which has 24 meeting rooms and an auditorium seating 1,600 persons.
Special event venues in Warsaw include the Zamek Krolewski, Warsaw's royal castle (yes, it's been destroyed in part several times), which dates to the 14th century and has interior space for up to 300 persons and outdoor space for up to 1,500; Teatr Dramatyczny theater, initially called not the Dramatic Theater but the Theatre of the Home of the Polish Armed Forces, which has a lofty reputation, two rooms for 80 and 100 persons, respectively, and a larger space for up to 600; Fabryka Trzciny Arts Center, which is in a revamped factory in Warsaw's arty Praga district and has five spaces for up to 450 persons, including a theater; Muzeum Palac w Wilanowie, in perhaps Warsaw's finest palace building and with an adjacent park, which has a collection of Meissen pottery, a lounge for 20 persons and the larger Biala lounge for up to 120, and Biblioteka Narodowa, the country's national library, which has 8.7 million items pertaining to the Polish language and eight function rooms, including two that can host up to 300 persons each.
Dining venues in Warsaw are of a very high standard. For Polish cuisine, choose between U Fukier, reputedly the oldest restaurant in the city, dating to the 16th century, which has a hall, basement room and summer garden for groups; Tamka 43, which has more modern confines within the Fryderyk Chopin Institute opposite the baroque Ostrogski Palace, and Kresowiak, which is the most formal of the three. For international cuisine, try either Restaurant 99, which has a minimalist decor and space, including a terrace, for groups of up to 200 persons, and Qchia Artystyczna (try saying that after a few celebratory vodkas), perhaps still the city's trendiest spot, even after being open for 20 years, which is in the Center of Contemporary Art in Ujazdowski Castle.