The Glories of Łazienki
Warsaw, and its residents, sure like their parks. Seventy-six fall within the city limits, making the city one of the greenest in Europe. Spoilt for choice they might be, but if the populace were pressed to pick one they couldn’t live without then its highly likely Łazienki would be it. Designed in the 17th century by the prolific Tylman van Gameren, its seen numerous modifications since, most notably during the reign of Poland’s last king, Stanisław August Poniatowski. Serving as the monarch’s summer residence, it was under his auspices that architect Dominik Merlini added such structures as ‘the White House’ (an elegant den for the King’s preferred mistress), an open-air Greco-Roman amphitheatre inspired by Herculaneum and the dramatic ‘Palace on the Water’.
Other features are more quirky, most notably a Chinese Garden – a concept coined by King Poniatowski. The garden you see now was completed in 2014 and based upon Prince Kung’s Mansion in Beijing.
Later embellishments were to include ‘the New Orangery’, built on the command of Tsar Alexander II to house Europe’s largest collection of tropical plants, not to mention the inter-war Chopin Monument: on May 31st, 1940, it became the first local monument to be destroyed by the Nazis. Later, during their retreat, the Germans torched many of the structures, though plans to dynamite the ruins never came to fruition.
Now restored and rebuilt, Łazienki’s 76 hectares are filled with monuments and museums, greenery and trails. For a throwback to the Imperial Age, it’s utterly unmissable.
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