Palace of Culture and Science
Palace of Culture and Science - Pałac Kultury i Nauki or PKIN. Designed by Soviet architect Lev Rudnev. Built in 1952-1955 in a mix of Art Deco and Socialist Realism styles. Plac Defilad 1.
Today we had our formal Collette coach tour of Warsaw. We started at Łazienki Park. It was originally a royal preserve laid out with palaces and monuments. It became a public park for Warsaw in 1918. Many interesting items were to be found here. At the entrance, a monument honors Józef Piłsudski (1867-1935), a leader in the Polish independence movement and twice head of state. (His Cadillac is displayed, too.) Overlooking a pond is the Chopin Monument commemorating the composer. Designed in 1926, it depicts him under a willow tree. Nearby in this musical corner of the park is a bust of Franz List. From the musicians corner, the group began a walk through the park to the Łazienki Palace, stopping to admire the Old Orangery. The Łazienki Palace, or Palace on the Water (Pałac na Wodzie
), was built beginning in 1772 on an island in an artificial lake. It served as the summer residence for Stanisław August Poniatowski, Polan's last king. It is a Neoclassical structure in a picturesque setting. Both the north and south façade face the lake while the sides are each connected to the mainland by a colonnaded bridge. The south façade features a terrace with a
Józef Piłsudski Monument
Józef Piłsudski Monument - Pomnik Józefa Piłsudskiego. The monument honors Józef Piłsudski (1867-1935) Following Poland's independence after World War I, he was Chief of State and later Prime Minister of the Second Republic of Poland.
fountain. The park is replete with small buildings, monument and sculptures. Continuing our walk, we came upon the Myślewicki Palace (Pałac Myślewicki
). This residence was built for August Poniatowski in 1775-1779. Our way out of the park we passed the Ujazdowski Castle (Zamek Ujazdowski).
Between Łazienki Park and our next stop at POLIN--Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the tour bus passed many reminders of the impact of World War II on Poland and Warsaw: Monument to the Home Army; Monument to the Warsaw Uprising; the Saxon Garden; Monument to the Fallen; Monument to the Heroes of Warsaw, among others. There is a statue of Ronald Reagan to commemorate the fall of Communism. Also along the route were notable cultural institutions: Zachęta
, the National Gallery of Art; National Library of Poland; and the Wielki Theatre.
POLIN is located in what was the Warsaw Ghetto, in a plaza now named Placa Bohaterów Getta
(Ghetto Heroes Square). A monument installed in 1948 on the fifth anniversary of the 1943 Ghetto Uprising commemorates those who resisted and those who were victims during the uprising. In the same square is POLIN, a museum of the history of the Jewish people in
Chopin Monument (Pomnik Fryderyka Chopina). Installed in 1926. Recast after World War II and reinstalled in 1958. The Chopin Statue is a large bronze statue of Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) seated under a willow. Łazienki Park. DSC_0048
Poland. Everything about the design of the museum is symbolic. The entrance portal is fashioned to resemble the Hebrew letter tav (ת), which stands at the beginning of such words as tarbut
(culture) and teva
(ark). Inside, curved walls symbolize disruption in the 1,000 year history of Polish Jews, while a large window to the outside symbolizes that their story is not yet over.
The tour bus now took us to Castle Square, where Susan and I had been the day before. We all made our way to the adjoining Market Square (Rynek Starego
) of Old Town. The group was given free time here for lunch and exploration of Stare Miasto
. And so we had an opportunity to see more nearby historical items. The Palace Under the Tin Roof (Pałac Pod Blachą) was one. This building began as a residence and then grew in a series of reconstructions, each more elaborate, until it became a part of the Royal Castle complex. A view of the backstreets revealed houses with sgraffito work and decorated guild halls such as the House of the Shoemakers. It is difficult to keep in mind that all of these Old Town buildings are postwar reconstructions.
Bust of composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Popiersie Franciszka Liszta. Given to Warsaw by Budapest and sculpted in 2011 to mark the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Łazienki Park. DSC_0047
Nevertheless, they are part of the Historic Centre of Warsaw UNESCO World Heritage site.
Lunch was at Gospoda Kwiaty Polskie in Old Town. We enjoyed some interesting Polish dishes here, including Barszcz czerwony z uszkami mięsnymi (Beet Soup with Beef Ravioli) and Gołąbki nafaszerowane mięsiwem z ryżem pod gęstym sosem pomidorowym (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce). The beet soup was similar to Borscht. Returning to catch the tour bus, we saw a unique sight. A wedding processing escorted by a mortorcycle club! I think the bride and groom had just been married. They arrived at Castle Square by car, with a squadron of bikers following them. The couple got out and made their way amid an admiring crowd for some speechmaking.
Returning to our hotel or the afternoon, I was still ready for exploration. I decided to walk the opposite direction for the day before. My goal was to see the Palace of Culture and Science, the Soviet-era skyscraper that dominates the Warsaw skyline. It was not that far away. I walked up Krucza three blocks to Aleje Jerozolimskie and then made a left. There were more interesting things to be seen along here. A Carrefour Express
Old Orangery (Starą Pomarańczarnię) at Łazienki Park. Built in 1786-1788. The Old Orangery was built to store the orange trees that decorated the gardens in summer.
market is on the corder. A plaque affixed to the wall of a demolished building is a war memorial. Further along was another traffic circle. This one had an underground passageway to cross the street. The passageway was shopping arcade lines with a variety of stores and services. At the other end was the Warsaw central Metro station. Beyond it was my goal, the Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki
) or PKIN. It is exactly what one thinks of as Socialist Realist architecture, an austere mix of Neoclassic and Art Deco styles. It certainly reminds one of the Communist era. So much so that Warsaw is in a quandary about what to do with it. Tear it down or repurpose it in some way?
For dinner, we went a few blocks to Zorza for a taste of a modern Warsaw bistro. I ordered a Beef Burger with fries while Susan ordered a toasted avocado sandwich. American-style hamburgers are amazingly popular in Poland, and made with Polish beef. While we were here an Uber Eats deliverer came in to pick up an order.
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