Once King Stanislaw August’s summer residence, Łazienki is now an 80-hectare park with plenty of historical buildings and a venue of popular summer concerts featuring the music of Chopin. Łazienki Park is one of the capital’s most frequently visited attractions, both by tourists and Varsovians.
The park’s surface area covers almost 80 hectares and its function today is truly varied: official diplomatic visits take place here; the park also hosts a museum and is a venue for entertainment, cultural and scientific events. Last but not least, it is great for walking.
The park’s name stems from its baroque-style bathing pavilion, the first building erected in the area in the second half of the 17th century. The building, situated on an island surrounded by canals and richly decorated, was designed and built by Tylman van Gameren for Stanislaw Herakliusz Lubomirski, Marshal of the Crown and owner of Ujazdów.
In the second half of the 17th century, the building was purchased by King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, who ordered its extension in 1772. It was then that further buildings were erected, including the Old Orangery, the Little White House, the Amphitheatre on the island and Myślewicki Palace.
In the same year, works started to turn the old pavilion into the king’s summer residence. Since then, the pavilion has been called the Palace on the Water or the Palace on the Island.
All buildings in the park at the time were surrounded by broad walking paths and stylishly designed gardens. Later, in the 19th century, further pavilions were built in the Classical style, and the park’s spatial organisation was also changed.
During World War II, the park’s buildings were saved from being blown up thanks to the efforts of the Polish people. Despite extensive damage caused by fires during the war, it was later possible to completely restore Łazienki’s historical buildings, and we are now able to enjoy the shade of the park’s trees, drop by the Old Orangery or visit the Palace on the Island.
One of the most widely recognised landmarks of Łazienki Park is the Frederick Chopin monument, sculpted by Wacław Szymanowski and unveiled in 1926. It is sited on the park’s pond, close to the main gate on Aleje Ujazdowskie.
In 1940, the monument was one of the first to be destroyed by the Nazis. After the war, it was restored with great attention to detail and reinstalled in its former location. Since 1959, concerts performed by outstanding pianists featuring Chopin’s music have been organised near the monument.
The format of the concerts has changed slightly over the years to take its present shape: recitals of foreign and Polish pianists can be enjoyed on Sundays at noon and at 4 p.m. The concerts at the monument have become one of Warsaw’s musical landmarks and are, in fact, such a well-rooted part of summer Sundays that they also attract the people of Warsaw, not just tourists. Each concert is attended by 2,000 – 3,000 people.
In Łazienki, one comes across sculptures and monuments every few steps. Apart from Chopin’s monument, another monument in the park is that of King John III Sobieski, erected at the initiative of Poland’s last monarch, King Stanislaw August Poniatowski. The monument’s aim was to show the inspirations which drove King Stanislaw’s activities. It was also very costly, so a satirical line by an anonymous author soon became popular: “A hundred thousand for a piece of stone! Twice as much I’d give, to turn Stanislaw into stone, and let King John live!”
POLISH PRESS AGENCY (PAP)