Near the Kampinoski National Park, Bielany is one of the prettiest areas in Warsaw. Almost 30 percent of its land area is covered by green terrain. Lying by Vistula’s riverbanks, the district includes the Bemowo Forest, Mlociny Park and Forest, and Bielany Forest, whose 130 hectares teem with ancient trees and biking and hiking trails around them.
A haven for nature lovers, Bielany is just a ride away from the city centre, through the metro station at Mlociny. Bielany was purposely developed for residential housing in the early 20th century. In the 1930s, the first detached homes and flats were built. To this day, serene Płatnicza Street, lined by low-rise homes, is illuminated by century-old gas lamps. The population is evenly divided among age groups, with about 20 percent being elderly and another 20 percent below 20.
The district was one of the few that escaped major damage during the Warsaw Uprising. After the war, a large portion was developed for housing employees of the Bielany Steelworks factory, and included the building of schools and hospitals. The Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education was built in 1928 and designed by avant-garde Polish architect Edgar Norwerth. The state-run campus in the Bielany Forest is the biggest of its kind in Europe. It has tennis courts, swimming pools and sports fields.