Saturday, 26 January 2013

Around the Saski Park

Last time I have shown you the Saski Park. Its surroundings are also interesting. When you stand with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier behind your back and look to the left, you will see a glimpse of a yellowish building.

Let's move first into this direction to see the monumental National Theater and Opera House.

I like best the horse carriage on top of the entrance. It is a Roman Quadriga, used for chariot racing. I tell you, any horse would like to be part of it.

On the other side of the street you will see another nice building - the Jablonowski Palace.

Before World War II it used to be the City Hall of Warsaw. It was unfortunately completely destroyed during the war. It was only reconstructed in 1997. To give you an impression of how this place was changing you can look at this postcard.

Today, the palace is the seat of some commercial banks who financed its reconstruction.

Just next to the palace, you will see the church of St. Albert and St. Andrew. It is the smallest church in Warsaw. It was also destroyed during World War II end reconstructed only in the 1990s.

Now let's get back to the Tomb and lets walk to the right.

The classical building (that used to be white) is the Zachęta Art Gallery.

And the round building in the back is the Holy Trinity Church. It is the biggest  Augsburg Evangelical church in Warsaw.

My favourite view in this part of the city is the panorama of Zachęta, the Trinity Church, with the Palace of Culture and Science in the backgroung. Something old, something new and the blue sky on top.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Saski Garden and Saski Palace

The Saski (or Saxon) Garden is the oldest public garden in Warsaw, it was opened in early 18th century. It ownes its name to the Saxon dinasty that ruled Poland at the time it was created. The main element of the part is the fountain. It is closed in winter unfortunately.

The garden is not very big but it has a nice symetry.

You probably wonder what is this engraved place on which I stand. This is a solar clock or a sundial. The date engraved on it is 1863.

As you see, the lanes are decorated with nice statues. They represent various topics, like times of the year, types of arts or virtues. They total up to 21.

The garden includes also a small lake. The building in the back is a part of the Warsaw water system. It was designed by Enrico (Henryk) Marconi, the same who has designed the health spa in Busko-Zdrój that I have shown some time ago.

You probably noticed that the lake is completely frozen. Just a small place for the ducks.

Originally, the most important building in the Garden was the Saski Palace. Unfortunately, it was almost entirely destroyed during World War I. Only a small balcony part remained. It was then turned into a monument devoted to the Unknown Soldiers who have given their lives for Poland. Since its creation it was a very important place for all Polish people. This was one of the reasons why nazis destroyed it in 1944. It was reconstructed after World War II in its current shape.

The Tomb is guarded by soldiers, day and night. An eternal fire is burning.

You can see the list of major battles in which Polish soldiers perished on the tables on the walls of the Tomb. This one shows the first ones, starting back in 972 (and no, I did not miss "1" at the beggining, the Polish state dates back to the 10th centruy).

Before the Tomb you will see the square devoted to marchal Piłsudski. It is the major place of gatherings and public events of historical value. One of them is comemmorated by this cross.

It was built in the memory of a mass that the pope John Paul II had on the square in June 1979. He then said "May the Holy Spirit change this land". Many Poles believe it to be a prohecy that fulfilled itself in 1989 when Poland regained its full independence.

The surroundings of the Saski Garden are also very interesting. But I will show you them in a separate note.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Kazimierz Dolny

Winter is well established in Poland. It is freezing cold. But it is also very beautiful. I like in particular the trees covered with fresh snow.

I will show you today one of the niciest cities in the Lublin voivodship - Kazimierz Dolny. It is located on the banks of the Vistula river.

The city itself is located on a hill. You will notice immediately the ruins of the old castle. It was destroyed during the Swedish invasion in 17th century, just like the castle in Ogrodzieniec that I have shown you last year.

The second building you will notice at first glance is the main church of St. John the Baptist and St. Barthelemy. It was originally built in the 14th century and then rebuilt after a devastating fire in the 16th century.

So let's climb this hill and let's have a look at the city center. Well, this may be a too big word. Let's have a look at the market square then.

In the center of the market square there is a wooden well. I would assume it is meant in particular for horses. But the water is probably far too cold for me today.

The niciest buildings on the market square are the houses under St. Nicholas and St. Christopher. They are the most popular spot for postcards as well.

Be careful and mind your steps, these paved roads are really slippery!

Finally, here you can see the church from close. I could not enter inside unfortunatelly, it was closed for construction works.

Kazimierz is a city of artists. It is particularly beautiful in the summer. So we need to come back there again!

Saturday, 5 January 2013


Białystok is a city in the North-East of Poland. In this part of the country you can feel better then anywhere what "cold" means. Still, if you put a warm coat on (and a warm hat too), you can see some interesting buildings there.

In the first place you can have a look at the Market Square of Kościuszko. Actually it is more a street than a square.

It starts with the roman catholic cathedral devoted to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Then, you can see the historical museum. In front of it you will see the statue of Marchal Piłsudski, similar to the one that I have shown you in Warsaw, near Belweder.

Finally, you will arrive at a square, with the Town Hall in the middle. Actually, the Town Hall has never been the seat of any local government. Before World War II it used to be a trading place, a kind of old-fashioned shopping mall. Nowadays it houses the museum of the Podlasie region.

The Town Hall is surrounded by some nice residential houses, who used to belong to rich merchants.

What I liked best was however the fountain.

Besides the Market Square, you should also see the Lipowa Street.

The tall building at its end is the church of st. Roch.

And yes, there are quite many churches in Białystok, like in many other Polish cities. The peculiarity of Białystok is that there are many orthodox living there. So besides the catholic cathedral they also have an orthodox cathedral, devoted to St. Nicolas.

Białystok used to belong to the aristocratic family Branicki. They had a beautiful palace, surrounded by a wonderful park. They are both open to the public now. But to go there in winter is even more absurd than to have a market square that is not square or a town hall without the mayor. So I will take you there on some other occasion.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Illumination of the Royal Route in Warsaw (2013)

Last year I have shown you the illumination of the Royal Route in Warsaw around the Łazienki Park.
This year they used the same lights on the Belwederska and Aleje Ujazdowskie Streets so now we will go a bit further North. Just after the Roundabout of Charles de Gaulle you will see lights cascading on the Nowy Świat Street.

When you move further to the Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, the lights will change again. They look like funny umbrellas decorated with Christmas Tree baubles.

You will also see that some of the old and respected buildings got some nice new Christmass lights. Like the house of the Polish Academy of Science. The stars are not only due to the Christmas period - just next to the building you will find the statue of the most famous Polish astronomer, Nicolas Copernicus (Kopernik).

On the other side of the street you will see the Basilica of the Holy Cross. But today, what is most appealing is of course the huge bauble.You can really walk inside!

I also liked the decorations on the trees.

Compared to this, the main entrance of the Warsaw University seems almost boring.

Luckily, I quickly forgot about this deception when I saw this huge gift, nicely packed, just in front of the Bristol Hotel, one of the niciest historical hotels in the city.

Even the Presidential Palace was given a new look. Unfortunately the building is large so the illuminations still kept it quite dark. And a bit frightening to be honest.

We are arriving to the end of Royal Route, next to the monument of the most famous Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz you will find again gifts and sweets.

 And finally, the culmination of the illumination - the Christmass Tree on the Castle Square, next to the Royal Castle.

It is very beautiful, it even changes colours. I definitely liked it a lot. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All of You, my Dear Readers.