Founded in the early 14th century, Warsaw became capital of Mazovia in 1413. In the 16th century it replaced Kraków as capital of Poland. The city was invaded and largely destroyed by the Swedish army in 1655. During the 18th century it developed into a modern city under King Stanisław Poniatowski, the last king of Poland.
From the defeat of Napoleon until World War I, Poland was partitioned by Russia, Germany, and Austria, and Warsaw fell under Russian rule. After the World War I it became capital of an independent Poland, but at the beginning of World War II it was invaded by Germany and largely destroyed after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. From 1945 to 1989 Poland was dominated by the Soviet Union, and the communist system had a great influence on the condition of the city.
Since its liberation Warsaw has quickly become a prosperous city, and today enjoys a GDP nearly level with the rest of Europe. The city has a modern downtown and a well preserved, renovated Old Town.