Castles and palaces in Warsaw
Today a fast growing city and capital of Poland, Warsaw was a small fishing village in the XIII century at the river Vistula. Since 1413 the seat of the Princes of Mazovia (Polish: Mazowsze). The Mazovian Princedom was incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland in 1526. Warsaw became the capital of the whole Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1596, when the King Sigmund III from the Swedish dynasty Vasa moved the capital from Krakow. Burnt and robbed during the Swedish invasion of 1655-1656, it was destroyed again in November of 1794, when Russian army took the areas of Warsaw on the right bank of Vistula, without any discrimination burnt houses, and killed thousands of inhabitants.
An important city of the Russian Empire in the 19th century, Warsaw grew quickly to really flourish in an independent Poland, after 1918. In September of 1939, indiscriminate German bombing of the Royal Castle, at that time the residence of the President of Poland, marked first days of the WWII. During the war, Warsaw has been in 84% percent destroyed, with almost total destruction of its historical monuments. Germans methodically drew the holes in the walls of many important buildings and blew these monuments up in October and November of 1944. Almost all of these buildings have been now rebuilt, some of them just after the war, so fifty or forty years later. Today they feel authentic again.
Royal Castle in Warsaw (Zamek Królewski)
The Royal castle has been built 1589-1619 for the King Sigmund III Vasa, from the Swedish dynasty of Vasa, ruling Poland at the time. Italian architects Giovanni Trevano, Giacomo Rodondo, Mateo Castelli incorporated the old gothic castle of the Mazovian Princes into a new early baroque structure, imposing itself upon the bank of the river Vistula. Royal Castle was further rebuilt by the Kings August III and Stanislaw August Poniatowski in the XVII century. Completely destroyed by the Germans during the WW II. First bombed in September of 1939, as a residence of the Polish President, just to terrorize the population, then partly demolished in the years after and finally in November of 1944 like many other important buildings in the city, methodically dynamited, so nothing would be left of it. Rebuilt 1971-1988. Interiors meticulously restored using the preserved ruin fragments and old documents. Now an important museum.
Belweder; a small palace built at the end of the XVII century, rebuilt for the Russian Prince Konstanty governing what was left of Poland at the time, in 1818 by an architect Jakub Kubicki. Classicist palace like a Palladio´s villa, with an old and beautiful park below. Since 1918 residence of the President of Poland. Closed to the public, but you may see the palace from the outside, as well as visit the park and see the reflection of Belweder in the lake behind it.
A complex of several neoclassic buildings dated mostly the second half of the XVIII century standing in the old park in the very centre of Warsaw. Very old trees, several lakes and canals, several monuments and sculptures standing in the park. Most important buildings: Palace on Water, Hunters Lodge, New and Old Orangerie, ancient Greek style Theatre on the Island. All that has been built by Charles Louis Agricola for the King Stanislaw August Poniatowski.
The name Łazienki takes its roots from the word Bath, as before King purchased this park from the magnate Stanislaw Heraclius Lubomirski it had been a park and a bath in a small building constructed by Tylman van Gammeren. Today a Museum and most beautiful park in Warsaw.
Castle of Ujazdów; built at the beginning of the XVII century in early baroque style for the King Sigmund III Vasa and his son Władysław IV, burnt by the Swedish invaders in 1655 never returned to its former glory. Burnt inside by the Germans during the WWII. The outside walls still standing after the war, were demolished by the Communist government in 1953, to give place for never built Polish People’s Army Culture Centre. Structure reconstructed at the end of the XX century. Now a Centre for Contemporary Art.
Wilanów castle (Pałac w Wilanowie)
Wilanów takes its name from words in Italian ´villa nuova´. A beautiful palace with the park and water canals near Warsaw, built like a miniature of Versailles. Wilanów Palace is now a museum. Interesting Poster Museum is located in the old stables of the Wilanów Palace.
The Ostrogski Family Castle
The castle in the center of Warsaw, originally from the 16th century rebuilt in the 17th century, as a baroque residence. For the past 200 years important building for the musical life of Warsaw. Now the seat of the Fryderk Chopin Society and a small concert hall.