Warsaw sights and attractions part 2


The Palace and Park Complex in Wilanów

The Palace in Wilanów – it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the country.  The palace was built according to the project of Augustin Locci in the years 1677 – 1696 and was intended as a residence of the king Jan III Sobieski.  In the 18th century this residence was a seat of the rich aristocratic families, such as: Czartoryscy, Sieniawscy, Lubomirscy, Potoccy and Braniccy.   This palace was also a residence of the king Augustus II the Strong.

The Palace and Park Complex in Wilanów

The palace represents the Baroque style, although it is also possible to find the elements typical for old Polish building tradition in its architecture.  The inside of the palace has a lot of stucco elements, which refer to the ancient tradition and propagate glorification of the Sobieski family.  The decor of the palace is a work of such authors as: Josef Szymon Bellotti, Jerzy Siemiginowski-Eleuter, Michelangelo Palloni, Claude Callot, Mock Jan Samuel and Francesca Furmo.  The palace along with the park surrounding survived the periods of the Partitions of Poland, of the war and the occupation.  Thanks to that, we can admire its historical and artistic qualities until today.  Since 1805 there has been a museum with rich collections of the European and Eastern European art in the palace. The palace and park complex in Wilanów is also a scene for cultural events, concerts and meetings; for example Summer Royal Concerts in the Rose Garden.

The National Museum

The National Museum

The National Museum – it is the biggest museum of the capital city and hence one of the largest institutions of this type in the country.  It was founded as a Museum of Fine Arts in 1867.  The building, in which the National Museum is located at present, was built according to the project of Tadeusz Tołwiński in the years 1927-1938.  During the World War II, a secret campaign was conducted to save exhibit items of the museum.  This venture was led by the museum director Stanisław Lorenz.  After the war, the museum began its activity with the exhibition entitled “Warsaw accuses” already in 1945.  There are exhibit items of the ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian art as well as Polish and European paintings (since 13th century) in the National Museum.  In addition, one can see rich numismatic collections as well as products of the handicraft.

The Warsaw University Library

 The Warsaw University Library

The Warsaw University Library was founded in 1816, when the Royal University was created in Warsaw.  The library is located in a building occupying the area of 64 thousand m2 and there is a public botanic garden on its roof.  While being inside the building, it is worthwhile to pay attention to the colonnade of the philosophers.   These are monuments of prominent Polish philosophers of the 20th century (Kazimierz Twardowski, Jan Łukasiewicz, Alfred Tarski and Stanisław Leśniewski) arranged in four columns .  So far, the library collected almost 3 million items, including: 1 851 351 books, 686 277 magazines, 392 125 special collections and 46 123 teaching books.  The subject matter of main collections is universal with the predominance of the humanistic and social literature. There are also rich collections concerning mathematical, natural, medical and theological sciences.  It is since 21st December 2007 that the electronic library of the Warsaw University has been functioning, known in short as e-bUW. At present, there are 8300 publications in the digital resources of the library.

The Old Town

The Old Town in Warsaw

The Old Town – was founded on an escarpment, on the bank of the river Kamionka, which is a tributary to the Vistula.  The area of the Warsaw Old Town is relatively small.  The market is arranged on the plan of a rectangle.  This oldest housing estate of the capital city is a compact complex of historic architecture; buildings date back to XVII and XVIII century.  The architecture of this place changed over the centuries along with changing styles in the art. The first medieval tenements were built in the Gothic style during the rule of Sigismund Augustus; the ones renovated or rebuilt after natural disasters had Renaissance character.  However at the beginning of the 17th century, the tenements gained colourful plaster and baroque ornaments.  The most important monuments of the Old Town include: the Castle Square, the Royal Castle, the St John Cathedral, the Church of Jesuits, the Jesuit College, the complex of walls beneath the Barbican, the House of Fukier, the House of Princes of Mazovia and many others.  During the World War II, the old town was completely destroyed and after the war, its reconstruction began.  A large part of tenements and Houses was reconstructed.

Cathedral Basilica of Martyrdom of St John the Baptist

Cathedral Basilica of Martyrdom of St John the Baptist

Cathedral Basilica of Martyrdom of St John the Baptist is one of the oldest temples of Warsaw and at the same time, one of the most important places of Polish tradition and culture.  The temple was built in 1390.  It is famous mainly for the fact, that it was here, where Piotr Skarga gave his sermons and Wladyslaw IV Vaza swore his “pacta conventa”.  It was also here that two kings were crowned (Stanisław Leszczyński – 1705 and Stanisław August Poniatowski – 1764) and the Constitutions were sworn on the 3rd  May. The cathedral was also a witness of many royal funerals and marriage ceremonies.  It was in 1960 that the title of a basilica was granted to the church.  The inside of the temple is dark and austere.

Praga in Warsaw

Praga in Warsaw is a district lying east of the Vistula river.  From an administrative point of view, it is divided into Praga North and Praga South.  The name of the district originates with the place, where a forest was before, which was burnt down for crops.  In 1648, the king Wladyslaw IV Vasa granted Praga the city rights and the district constituted a town separate from Warsaw.  It was only in 1791 that Praga was incorporated into Warsaw by the resolution of the Four-Year Seym.

Praga in Warsaw

The brave history of the Polish state contributed to the fact that Praga repeatedly had been destroyed.  At first, during frequent wars in XVII, XVIII and XIX century, then during the November Uprising and the World War II.  Currently, Praga is a fascinating district, in which history meets modernity.  One will find both old lamp posts and prewar pavements, as well as modern pubs, galleries, cinemas and entertainment centres here.  Many artists choose Praga for their studios, galleries and exhibitions; there are also many alternative theatres here. The biggest attractions of the district include among others: the Church of Our Lady of Loreto, the Zoological Garden, the Basilica Minor, the Kościuszkowcy Monument, the Praga Backyard Band Monument, Różycki Bazaar, the Cane Factory Artistic Centre, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Metropolitarna Orthodox Church of St Mary Magdalene, the Brotherhood of Arms Monument as well as many other important historic buildings, monuments and streets.

The Governor's palace

The Governor’s Palace 

The Governor’s Palace is also called the Presidential Palace, since it was the residence of the President of the Republic of Poland in the years 1993 – 2010 (the president Bronisław Komorowski is supposed to reside in the Belvedere, and the Governor’s Palace is supposed to serve as an office space).  The building is situated in the city centre, at Krakowskie Przedmieście, between the Bristol hotel and the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and of St. Joseph commonly known as the Carmelite Church.  It is a property of the State Treasury and is included in possessions of the Chancellery of the President.  The Governor’s Palace is the biggest palace in Warsaw.  It was built in 1643 and its first owner was Stanisław Koniecpolski.  The building was designed by the architect Constantino Tencalla.  Originally, the building was built in the Baroque style but during next centenaries it was repeatedly rebuilt. Since 1659, the palace was a property of the Lubomirski and then Radziwiłł family.  After 1815, the Congress Kingdom of Poland bought the building, which was assigned to the seat of the governor of the state and hence the name of the building.  At that time, the palace was rebuilt in the classical style and so we can see it at present.

The Belvedere Palace

The Belvedere Palace in Warsaw

Belvedere is historically and territorially connected with the Royal Baths Park in Warsaw.  It was at the site of the present palace that about 1660, Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac built a palace for his wife (probably wooden one), which was called the Belvedere because of the beautiful view on Vistula river meadows.  In the thirtieth years of the 18th century, the old building was replaced by a new brick one, designed on a plan of a rectangle and built according to a project of Józef Fontana.  While having bought the building (in 1767), Stanislaus Augustus planned to convert it into a representative residence at first.  Having abandoned the intention, he assigned it to an apartment for the court, and in the north annexe he established the famous manufacture of faience, where the famous valuable products, called Belvederes, came from.

Read more:

Warsaw sights part 1

Warsaw sights part 3

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