In between bouts of fuming about my crazy country, I am still working on that Gray Sundays in Warsaw list. Though yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day, the project du jour was Pałac Łazienkowski, also known as the Palace on the Water. (It is gray and chilly today, while I write this post, so that counts!)
I walk past this palace several times a week, in all seasons. It is on my exercise route through Park Łazienkowski (Royal Baths Park), which is, in my opinion, the nicest place in Warsaw. So, of course it took me almost a year to finally go inside.
The Pałac Łazienkowski was originally a bath house, built in the late 17th century by Prince Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski. I was surprised to find that, like Doctor Who’s famous telephone booth, it is “bigger on the inside.” Much bigger!
Though heavily damaged by the Nazis in WWII (fortunately, they never got around the detonating the explosives that they had planted in the palace for some mad Nazi reason) it has been beautifully restored since. Many statues and paintings were hidden from the Germans during the occupation and saved. However, the Baroque-era frescoes were destroyed: pictures of some of them can be seen here.
A later Polish king, Stanisław II Augustus liked the bath house so much that he converted it into a small summer palace. Though Stanislaw is often viewed as a failure, having been the last king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, he was a notable patron of the arts and did have rather good taste for a Baroque-era monarch. The modestly-sized living quarters that he installed on the second floor of Pałac Łazienkowski look something that a person could actually live in.
I’ve seen a LOT of Baroque bling in my time—a LOT—but I I think the Palace on the Water is a real jewel that is well worth a visit.
Visiting information here.